Since many of our readers are animal rights activists, I trust they will know a lot more about this subject than I do and provide us with additional info. I’ve been a meat lover for too many years to go vegetarian, and attempts to do so in the past have led to wet dreams about hamburger and fried chicken fantasies. However, I do believe that food animals have a right to be treated humanely, and when they are not, the public has a right to know. However Republican legislatures in many states are making it a crime to blow the whistle on the meat industry. They are called ag-gag laws.
In 2008, the Humane Society released a shocking video taken in a Southern California slaughterhouse. The footage depicted workers using chains and forklifts to drag cows that were too sick to stand across the floor. The abuse was appalling; the cows’ condition, which indicated a food safety risk, led the USDA to order a recall of 143 million pounds of beef. It was the largest meat recall in U.S. history — and it was all brought about by the work of an undercover whistleblower.
Since then, Big Ag has been hard at work preventing this sort of thing from happening again, but not by actually working to stop abuse — at least, not completely. Instead, the industry’s been pushing states to implement laws, known collectively as “ag-gag,” aimed at silencing activists.
Nine states currently have ag-gag laws on the books, the most recent of which, in Idaho, takes anti-whistleblower legislation to a worrisome new extreme. Under the law, signed by Gov. C . L. “Butch” Otter, it is illegal for anyone not employed on the farms — and undercover activists don’t count — to make recordings of what goes on there without the owner’s explicit consent. In practice, that means videos taken of factory farms’ illegal practices — like this one, which depicts three workers at an Idaho dairy farm beating cattle with a cane, kicking and stomping on them once they’ve fallen and dragging one cow across the floor via a chain around its neck — can no longer legally be made public.
But that these laws effectively allow animal cruelty to go undetected and unreported only scratches the surface of why critics find them so appalling. In the interest of protecting the agriculture industry, ag-gag laws criminalize whistleblowers and, ultimately, ensure consumers remain in the dark… [emphasis added]
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Photo credit: Mother Jones (the graphic there is interactive. Click through.)
In my younger days, I hunted for meat, not sport. I considered it an obligation to have sufficient respect for the animal I hunted to send it to my table without suffering. I passed up shots, because I was not fully confident in a clean kill. I consider torturing food animals criminal.