The “live free or die” state might require anyone recording livestock abuse to report it to law enforcement within 24 hours.

Such prompt reporting is called for in a mere severn line House bill being heard for the first time  in the New Hampshire House and Agriculture Committee. Animal advocacy groups have already labeled it an “ag-gag” bill, but it’s unclear whether what’s going on in New Hampshire fits that description.

Last year three states – Iowa, Missouri and Utah – followed three others that had passed similar measures 20 years ago – North Dakota, Montana  and Kansas – in adopting laws that critics say are intended to legally “gag” those who collect evidence of animal cruelty on private agricultural property without permission of the owner. In some cases, running contrary to these laws could in theory bring felony charges. (Apparently no one has ever been prosecuted under any of these state laws.)

Sponsors of HB110 say it merely requires persons who record cruelty to livestock to report it within 24 hours. Joanne Bourbeau, northwest regional director for the Humane Society of the U.S., claims the New Hampshire bill “punishes whistleblowers and endangers the public by hiding animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, food safety issues and environmental problems on industrial farms…”

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