TV icon Bob Barker has sent a letter on PETA's behalf to Wyoming state senators. In the letter, Barker urges the lawmakers to block “ag-gag” House Bill (H.B.) 126, which would ban undercover cameras on factory farms—and as Barker, who grew up in the neighboring state of South Dakota, explains, video footage from undercover investigations has helped law-enforcement officials across the country prosecute cases of animal abuse.
Barker, a lifelong Republican, is passionate about ensuring that law-enforcement officials have all the resources that they need to enforce the law.
“As a lifelong Republican who feels that authorities should have access to everything that they need to enforce the law, I’m writing in the hope that you will reject House Bill (H.B.) 126, which threatens to shroud illegal abuses in factory farms and slaughterhouses in secrecy by keeping cameras out of these facilities,” he wrote. "Video footage from undercover investigations, which are often prompted by whistleblowers who work on factory farms or in slaughterhouses, has helped law-enforcement officials across the country, including in Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, prosecute cases of animal abuse. Will you protect our right to collect this evidence by opposing H.B. 126?
“Because government inspection of factory farms for cruelty violations is neither mandatory nor common and workers who report abuse to supervisors are routinely ignored, evidence from undercover investigations is critical for exposing abuse and helping officials prosecute abusers. My friends at PETA, for example, went undercover in 2008 at Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., in West Virginia and found workers beating, stomping on, and maliciously killing birds, but even after the abuse was brought to a supervisor’s and Aviagen management’s attention, the cruelty continued. Over two months, the investigator collected detailed evidence showing that these abuses were not isolated incidents but part of a pattern of routine and systematic cruelty to animals. Ultimately, the evidence helped state police and prosecutors obtain 23 indictments for cruelty to animals against three former employees, all of whom were convicted and one of whom was jailed.
“Americans today want better treatment of animals killed for food, not for their legislators to hide illegal cruelty on farms behind locked doors. Over the last few years, I’ve been joined by figures from all walks of life, from Republican strategist Mary Matalin to animal welfare expert Temple Grandin, in opposing bills similar to H.B. 126, and legislators have listened, as such bills have died or been tabled by sponsors in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and Tennessee as well as Arkansas, the second-largest poultry-producing state in the nation. I hope to hear that you’ll stand up for protecting our right to document and expose cruelty to animals.”
Barker isn’t alone in protesting bills such as HB 126: Other prominent people who have joined PETA in speaking out against them include Cloris Leachman, Katherine Heigl, Republican strategist Mary Matalin, and animal welfare expert Temple Grandin. Similar bills have been defeated or abandoned by their sponsors in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and Tennessee as well as Arkansas, the second-largest poultry state.