Ag-Gag Bills, Property Rights, and Common Sense

Karen De Coster, Contributor
Activist Post

This ABC story from early in 2012 discusses the Ag-gag bills flying ’round the various state legislatures (MN, IL, NY, MS, etc.). Ag-gag bills are said to make whistle-blowing on factory farms almost impossible while criminalizing photography of the factory property and ways of conducting business.

An article from the Huffington Post states that Ag-Gag bills “threaten our freedom, our children, and our animals.”

According to the Lake Research poll, opposition to Ag-Gag legislation is steadfast across demographic, geographic and partisan lines. A majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents agree that banning undercover investigations is wrong. Likewise, a majority of respondents in all regions (Northeast, Midwest, South and West) oppose the criminalization of undercover investigations at farms. No matter the demographic, Americans don’t want to be deemed criminals for exposing wrongdoing.

Indeed, there is a libertarian case to be made for private property rights, and thus the owners of property banning the filming of their busines matters – right or wrong – within the confines of their property lines. This is something the public has a tough time dealing with because the emotional issues (animal abuse, disease, and degrading quality food) override reason in terms of understanding property rights and non-aggression against those rights. For instance, these same people would never allow for “whistleblowers” to enter their home property to film so-called “inappropriate” goings-on within their home. But while it is libertarian, and perfectly reasonable, for a private food producer to disallow video and photography on private property, there is a larger, moral issue here.

I recommend watching the video embedded in the article that is titled, “critic calls battery cages cruel.” This video displays the chickeness of the chicken. The signature line from this video is this: “Chickens have a large number of natural habits that are important for them to engage in.” Over the years I have witnessed that fact that the more people are exposed to the realities of the cruel and deplorable slop served up by the industrial CAFO system, the more they will demand quality food where animals are raised humanely and within their natural environment.

This year, I started putting together occasional weekend cycling rides in the heart of Detroit, and this includes bringing along my pork/chicken farmer, Melody Nye, a long-time cyclist and farmer who brings her Melo Farms products to Detroit Eastern Market each Saturday.

Our first ride included a coffee house stop where I asked Melody to give a 30 minute spiel on natural farming/organic gardening vs. the industrial feedlot/monoculture machine. Both her and her husband have learned from Joel Salatin’s teaching and gave up corporate careers to farm. I then discussed my model for living and how I mange to live outside of the industrial food machine. These bikers in attendance were people who were already suspicious of the institutionalization of industrial food habits, the medical establishment, government-business alliances in the food industry, etc. Most of them went to Detroit Eastern Market afterwards to load up on pastured pork and free-grazing chickens. They are all steadily moving toward the good life while realizing that the system of pumping industrial sludge into their bodies is neither healthy, sustainable, or even moral.

Karen De Coster, CPA is a libertarian accounting/finance professional and freelance writer covering food freedom, regulatory abuses and free market economics. Please visit and support her personal blog at and follow her on Twitter @karendecoster.

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