A new sweeping “animal enterprise” pre-emption bill has been proposed in Utah, USA, that would prohibit any local municipality or county from issuing regulations of animal agriculture, animal research, and a host of other animal industries if such regulation effectively prohibits the operation of an animal enterprise or the use of a working animal. 

This bill defines “Animal enterprise” as a commercial enterprise, an academic enterprise, or a competition that uses or sells animals or animal products for profit, food or fibre production, agriculture, education, research, sport, or testing. “Animal enterprise” includes an animal competition, exposition, fair, rodeo, farm, feedlot, furrier, ranch, or an event intended to exhibit or advance agricultural arts and sciences., but does not include an aquarium, circus, retail pet store, or zoo.

A similar bill was pushed in 2022 in Utah and passed the House but stalled in the Senate. This time, the bill is originating in the Senate with a new Sponsor, Senator Scott D. Sandall. This year’s bill, SB 113,  specifically states, “a political subdivision may not adopt or enforce an ordinance or another regulation that prohibits or effectively prohibits the operation of an animal enterprise or the use of a working animal.” On 27th January 2023, it passed the Senate Committee, and now the bill has gone to the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee, where Senator Sandall is the Chair. 

If this bill became law, it could be the first sweeping pre-emption law of its kind and could pave the way for many other states to follow suit, similar to what we saw a decade or so ago with the proliferation of ag-gag bills. Although several of these ag-gag laws have now been repealed for deemed unconstitutional, it took a long time to do so. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.