An animal rights group and other organizations have sued to invalidate a 2017 Arkansas law that prohibits undercover investigations of factory farms and other businesses.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is joined by Animal Equality, the Center for Biological Diversity and Food Chain Workers Alliance in a federal lawsuit in Little Rock against the so-called “ag gag” law. From the news release:
Arkansas’ Ag-Gag law is far-reaching. Not only does the law allow agricultural businesses to sue whistleblowers who expose the cruel conditions animals endure in factory farms, the law also bans undercover investigations of virtually all private entities, including nursing homes and daycare centers. Whistleblowers could be liable for tens of thousands of dollars just for exposing the truth.
This is the eighth lawsuit challenging state Ag-Gag laws. Earlier lawsuits have resulted in courts striking down similar laws in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Iowa. Litigation remains ongoing in North Carolina, Kansas and Iowa, where state lawmakers recently passed a second Ag-Gag law after the first was struck down.
Today’s challenge is the first Ag-Gag case in which private entities are the defendants. One of the defendants is DeAnn Vaught, the lawmaker who sponsored the law. Arkansas legislators explained they hoped to prevent judicial review of the law by exclusively providing companies the right to enforce the law’s civil penalties.
Jonathan Vaught, doing business as Prayer Creek farm is a defendant along with DeAnn Vaught, and Peco Foods, Inc., a chicken producer with operations in Arkansas.