For at the same time many people seem eager to extend the circle of our moral consideration to animals, in our factory farms and laboratories we are inflicting more suffering on more animals than at any time in history. –Michael Pollan
If you are not aware of the continual findings of animal abuses that occur in factory farms, you should consider yourself fortunate. I would offer up footage and video myself, but truly don’t care to expose people to such imagery. If you really want to see it, it’s sadly readily available online.
One of the more horrific and recent high-profile findings was of a Butterball turkey farm found in North Carolina. Employees were videotaped by another employee who wore a hidden video camera and showed how the birds were stomped, kicked, choked, beaten with metal rods, thrown, and overall simply handled in a heartless way. Video of birds with open wounds festering, missing eyes, broken wings and legs, even decomposing bodies left in battery cages next to still living birds.
Now what was mentioned above is only the tip of the ice berg, the list of atrocities that occur on some factory farms is simply mind numbing and even difficult to mention. But the noble subterfuge undertaken by non-profit organizations such as PETA, the Humane Society, Compassion Over Killing, and Farm Sanctuary, which does it’s best to uncover factories which cruelly treat animals, is coming under pressure as laws are being generated to make it illegal to whistle blow.
Anti-Whistle Blowing Ag-Gag Laws For Factory Farms
As you can imagine, it is not exactly the best PR for a business or industry when such heinous acts of cruelty are exposed and provided to the public. As such, industry leaders are pushing for ag-gag laws which will prohibit the use of undercover-videos, photographs and sound recordings to be used against them. So far there are already multiple states which have instituted these laws, including New York, Minnesota, Iowa, Florida, Kansas, Montana, and North Dakota.
The laws are such that even employees are prohibited from attempting to raise any awareness to the happenings on these farms. The argument for these ag-gag bills is that there are already industry-appointed inspectors who are supposed to view these farms and decide whether or not they are acting outside of the law. Also that any vigilante inspectors will not be unbiased in their opinion and footage chosen to be shown. It may be difficult to fathom, but animal cruelty law, depending on the state, are actually rather lax as is. An animal rights activist may see a farm hand dragging a turkey by the neck, or throwing them into their cages, but a farmer would ask how you would transport an animal that doesn’t like to be handled and fights back every step of the way.
Now that is not to say how they treat the animals is right, but some things obviously seem to go too far. Such as bludgeoning an animal to death, however, in some states, killing an animal is killing an animal regardless of how it’s done. Many people may not agree and would argue that there are indeed humane ways to end an animals life, but many times, these farms are not acting outside of the law even though when viewed it would seem as though a terrible crime is being committed.
Why These Ag-Gag Laws Raise Concerns
It obviously doesn’t make much sense for an industry to create and enforce their own laws, which is essentially the argument being put forth. You cannot be the all-encompassing judge, jury, and executioner. There needs to be watch dogs, overseers, and people outside of the industry who can make decisions without worry over losing their job, or the support of lobbyists, or whatever. The animals being raised on these farms is for human consumption, yet often times, if you were to visit one of these farms, you would certainly not think of eating the meat.
If you are not aware of what gestation crates or battery cages are, it would behoove the reader to take a deep breath and go and see for yourself. Now one argument from factory farmers that I can take their side on is that the so called “vegan terrorist”, who insist the consumption of any meat or dairy product is wrong, and therefore are on a crusade to end the possibility for anyone to eat meat. Just because some farms do treat their animals poorly, and the animals themselves live awful and painful lives, does not mean that is how all farms act.
But beyond that, there should most definitely be people outside of the industry who check in on factory farms, and all farms for that matter, to ensure the food they are selling the general public is safe, and the animals they raise were not living in fear and agony for their entire existence. I am certainly not even remotely close to being a vegetarian, and sadly, there is no doubt I myself have consumed the meat of an animal that was treated in a regrettable manner. But I think there can be a fine balance, where an animal can live a happy, healthy life and still be used for the purpose of food.
I certainly don’t believe the farm industry should self-regulate, as we all know, that usually ends poorly. As such, these ag-gag bills that are being passed with the assumption that they are protecting farmers is certainly true, they are indeed protecting farmers. They are protecting them from being exposed and having their operations shut down. If you approach any farmer, and were to ask whether or not you can tour around their facility, and they say no. There is certainly reason to be alarmed. As who would not be proud to show that their animals are happy, healthy, and live a good life until their eventually killed. In the end, for the sustenance and nutrition they provide, animals deserve at least that.
Most of these animals would not be considered beasts of burden, but their burden is certainly heavy nonetheless. And if they’ve born the burden, and are raised for the purpose of our pleasure and consumption, they should be in the least given the honor of living a life void of misery and pain. That much is at least owed.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1400422
If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @FacePalmLaw. The law can be a tricky course to navigate, and if you are in need of a Lawyer, or a Colorado Truck Accident Attorney, it’s better to find one sooner than later.