Study Finds Ag-gag Laws Hurt Farmers’ Trustworthiness

Simply learning about ag-gag laws lead to distrust of animal-based farmers.

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A recent study conducted by academic publishing company Elsevier reports that awareness of ag-gag legislation reduces the trustworthiness of meat-producing farmers and increases negative perceptions of current farm animal welfare conditions. The report, titled “Awareness of ag-gag laws erodes trust in farmers and increases support for animal welfare regulations,” explores the relationship between legislation that restricts information coming out of farm facilities and consumers’ level of trust. More than 700 participants were divided into two groups, with one receiving information about ag-gag laws. Though many were relatively unaware of such laws, simply learning about their existence lead to unfavorable views toward farmers. Noteworthy was that findings didn’t vary across demographics—those of different political affiliations and who lived in urban, suburban, and rural environments all reported decreased trust. According to The Humane Society of the United States, six states have ag-gag laws on the books, with a federal judge recently striking down a piece of legislation in Idaho last summer. Notable political figures who oppose such laws include United States senators Barbara Boxer and Cory Booker, and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.