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Silencing ‘Ag-Gag’ Bills

I didn't want to display anything cruel, but the cruelty of this confined space doesn't compare to the physical abuse.

I didn’t want to display anything cruel, but the cruelty of this confined space doesn’t compare to the physical abuse.

I want to shed some light on an  appalling trend in legislation, that has emerged in the last 12 months: Ag-Gag bills.  I’m hoping that with a catchy name, people will listen and lobbyists won’t have a fighting chance of getting more of these nonsense bills passed.

Basically, Ag-Gag is a term for any proposed bill that criminalizes people who take photos or video on factory farms (or other operations).  As many of us know (particularly if you’ve seen some of the more popular food documentaries these days), many factory farm workers aren’t there because they love the animals.  Some images and videos have been taken that show farm worker burning the ankles of horses with chemicals, kicking chickens and leaving their rotting corpses next to laying hens, or punching pigs.

Whistleblowers who have exposed some of these practices at factory farms have come under fire in states that are home to huge Agribusiness factory farms.  And as you know, in states where business relies on agriculture, there’s a lot of Big Ag lobbyists throwing money at legislators to incentivize passing certain bills – which is exactly what happened last year in Iowa.  Utah and Missouri soon followed suit.

Here’s why this matters:

  1. Ag-gag bills create distrust for farmers, with the industry, and the entire food system.  No one is going to report crimes for fear of being persecuted.  And while some people may argue that those factory farms are privately owned (and thus they have a right to privacy), if they’re allowing someone on their farm, shouldn’t we have the freedom to expose them for cruel abuse?!
  2. Rather than going after the whistleblowers, why aren’t legislative efforts aimed to improve farm conditions and impose harsher penalties?  Oh, right, because this is America and in this country, our legislators are swayed by corporations flaunting money rather than their constituents.

I, for one, do not want to be misinformed about where my food is coming from nor do I want well-intentioned deterred from informing me.  At least I know I’m not the only one.

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