“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” — Abraham Maslow, American psychologist, 1962 The woman who taught this ink-stained journalist how to excel in public affairs for about 20 years taught me about the parade. It’s really a simple concept. We must always think of our audience not as one sitting in an auditorium somewhere, but as a parade, constantly moving past us. For that reason, I am willing to forgive whoever was really responsible for the confusion surrounding Wyoming Senate File 12, which has already been signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead. wyomingrangelland_406x250Wyoming has not adopted an “ag-gag” law. Thankfully, we know that because a couple years earlier in this parade, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) defined the elements that must be included to meet the threshold of an “ag-gag” bill. HSUS, among the largest of the animal welfare groups and by far the most active and effective on this issue, said three elements are required. They are: 1) a ban on taking photos or video of a factory farm without permission, 2) making it a crime for an investigator to get work (by falsifying a job application) at a factory farm, and 3) requiring quick mandatory reporting without time to document the pattern of abuse. The fact is that most state legislatures have moved into their second halves and “ag-gag” has yet to show up as a player this season. There’s been some talk here and there, and an isolated  bill that got an  early courtesy hearing in Washington state, but nothing serious has yet occurred on the “ag-gag” front during the 2015 legislative season. Wyoming’s SF 12 isn’t an “ag-gag” bill. It does not fit the definition. It is a trespass bill. It concerns illegally collecting resource data on private “open land.” Agriculture resources are included, but so are minerals, geology, history, cultural artifacts, archeology, air, water, soil, conservation, habitat, vegetation and animal species. In federal courts in Idaho and Utah, challenges to “ag-gag” laws adopted by those states are moving forward largely because the elements of the HSUS definition were contained in those legislative bills. It is those specific elements that allow attorneys for the animal welfare side to argue that both Idaho and Utah “ag-gag” laws contain “content or view-point based restrictions” and that lawmakers in both states acted out of “animus toward animal welfare groups.” Those arguments simply could not be made about the Wyoming law. All states have trespass laws to protect private property. For a century or more, Wyoming law has been based on the “fence out” concept, but SF 12 is somewhat of a break in the way that it covers “open land.” Animal agriculture does use “open land” in Wyoming, as do the wild horses and bears. But it’s not where some animal welfare activist goes in hopes of recording evidence of abuse. It’s not the factory farm; it’s mostly range land. SF 12 is, in the plain language of the law, about resource data. There’s nothing in Wyoming’s new law that will lead anyone to make claims about “view-point” or any “animus.” But because of some misinformed groups — interestingly, not HSUS — SF 12 got labeled in at least one sloppy news service’s report as an “ag-gag” bill, and it forced Wyoming officials to issue denials. Hey, any news service can make a mistake, including our own. And, chances are, the activist groups that piled on this one did so as part of an echo chamber. It happens. So, let’s review. Not every trespass bill is an “ag-gag” bill or law. An “ag-gag” bill or law contains the elements defined by HSUS. Two federal court cases are pending that are important to both animal welfare activists and, we might add, to the news media because of prohibitions on publishing or broadcasting that may flow from “ag-gag” laws. And state legislatures in 2015 do not appear interested in passing more “ag-gag” laws either because they are waiting for these federal court decisions or because animal agriculture has wisely moved on to less draconian solutions to its irritation with the activist community. Got it now?