Sunday, 26 May 2013

Ag-gag Laws Hide Animal Cruelty

This past April, the California Bill AB-343, known as the ag-gag bill,
which was scheduled for a vote by the California State Assembly
was withdrawn from consideration.  This ag-gag bill would have made it
illegal to video tape animal cruelty on factory farms and in

In recent years, video evidence obtained by animal welfare
investigators have uncovered shocking and widespread animal abuse.
Thus, the industrial animal industry would want to make video taping
of the animal cruelty a crime, NOT the cruelty itself.
The ag-gag laws, still in place in some states other than California,
are a desperate move by the industrial animal industry to keep the
everyday violence against animals and work-place conditions for workers
from the public view. This underscores how important concealment is to their continued
operations and product.

Over the last 10 years, countless video evidence obtained by
investigators shows slaughter plant workers displaying complete
disregard for the pain and misery they inflicted as they repeatedly
attempted to force "downed" animals onto their feet and into the human food chain.

Workers are seen kicking cows, ramming them with the
blades of a forklift, jabbing them in the eyes, and even torturing them
with a hose and water in attempts to force sick or injured animals to walk to slaughter.
Last year,  a video showed workers at an Iowa egg hatchery tossing male
chicks into a grinder. Industry groups said such instantaneous
euthanasia was a common practice because male chicks can't lay eggs or
be raised quickly enough to be sold for meat. And recently, Federal workers
closed a California slaughterhouse after a video showed terrible abuse of dairy
cows that were electrocuted and even shot multiple times before they were slaughtered
at the Central Valley Meat Co., according to the USDA.

Undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughter plants have
lead to some of the largest meat recalls in our nation's history.  They
have also helped to inform public policy, leading to the elimination of
the sale and production of foie gras in California, as well as motivating
many food producers to phase out gestation crates (for pigs), battery cages
(for chickens), and veal crates (for baby cows), all due to their inherent cruelty.

A majority of people do not support animal cruelty and
desire transparency in the food system.  Some people,
"want to believe" that those animals in the food chain are treated well
and perhaps those same people, only buy organic or free range products.
Unfortunately, slaughterhouses do not discriminate, and some of these
undercover investigations involved animals from "family farms",
such as the recent case of abuse at the Central Valley Meat Co.

When the fictional narrative the animal agri-business attempts to sell
us, doesn't meet reality, we are obligated to act on behalf of our
compassionate nature, to choose a better world.  The ag-gag laws are an indiscriminate
assault on our fundamental values of kindness and freedom.  They work against
animal welfare, worker rights, food safety and ultimately, the quality of democratic
deliberation in the United States.

John Merryfield

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