Caged chickens. If Big Ag has its way, even possessing this undercover image of a factory chicken farm would be illegal.Photo: Humane Society of the United StatesNPR had a report today on the anti-whistleblower laws in Florida and Iowa that would make it illegal to take photos or undercover videos of livestock facilities. (It’s always nice to be NPR’s assignment editor!)

But it doesn’t end in those two states — this “campaign” by Big Ag to shield its production techniques from scrutiny is going national.

Writer Will Potter — author of the book Green Is the New Red about “how animal rights and environmental activists are being labeled ‘eco-terrorists,’ and what that means for the safety and freedom of us all” — uncovered a Minnesota bill that would go even further. The bill — proposed by a state legislator who is, according to Potter, the “past president of the Minnesota Pork Producers, and a current member” — wouldn’t just make it illegal to produce an undercover video at a factory farm. It would also make it illegal to possess or distribute it. “Hello, Big Ag? It’s the Constitution calling. Remember me … ?”

It would be nice to think this spate of bills is just a merry coincidence. But Big Ag, whether through farm groups or individual corporations, has been known to coordinate legislative campaigns state by state. One of the more notorious was Monsanto’s campaign to pass bills prohibiting the labeling of milk as containing artificial hormones in 14 states across the country. They failed everywhere but in Ohio — and that “success” was overturned by the courts.

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But this new campaign could have greater success. Kansas and Montana have already passed ag-focused anti-whistleblower laws. Iowa –with a little help from Monsanto — may do so soon. And now Minnesota will take its shot. Are you ready for an iron curtain to drop across industrial food production? Because, hard as it is to believe, it does seem to be happening.

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