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Agriculture

ACLU Could Challenge Kansas Ag-Gag Law

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Chesapeake Bay Program, flickr Creative Commons
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A court recently struck down an Idaho law that barred undercover filming of livestock facilities. Those types of videos are sometimes used by animal rights activists. The ruling could lead to a challenge of a similar Kansas law.

Warren Parker, with the Kansas Farm Bureau, says videos can be edited and twisted to paint a negative picture. He says the law helps prevent people trespassing onto farm property to film the videos, where they could introduce disease. He says livestock producers keeping their farms closed to cameras isn’t about protecting abuse.

“It’s not necessarily trying to hide something. There may be some very good reasons for it and it’s protection of that livestock,” Parker says.

But ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Doug Bonney says the law isn’t needed, because livestock producers can already prosecute trespassers or sue people who publish inaccurate videos. He says the law unfairly targets activists interested in animal welfare and food safety.

“These laws are unnecessary, and they target specific groups based on their message for censorship, which is a violation of the First Amendment,” Bonney says.

Bonney says the ACLU may challenge the Kansas law, but they’re waiting on a lawsuit over a similar law in Utah.