Some of the most successful posts on this humble blog pertained to Crowbar Ranch. That’s the term I came up with in 2010 for Conklin Dairy Farms where an employee was videotaped abusing animals.
It’s time for a very, very disturbing and frightening update. For those of us who were left wondering how industry might respond, now we have our answer.
Industry groups and forces with deep pockets and with purchased politicians in tow have joined forces to push for laws that will criminalize the act of secretly videotaping animal abuse.
Yes, you read that right. Industry could have responded by saying, “We are outraged. These cases are outlier events. We are eager police ourselves and prove that industry can be responsible. This sort of activity will never be tolerated.”
They could have done that. They didn’t. Instead they unleashed their lobbyists and let the money flow to politicians who now support draconian industry-sponsored legislation.
Stop animal abuse or attempt to stop those who attempt to uncover it? That’s a tough choice for some. The farm industry is basically saying, “We want the right and the protection for animal abuse to continue. And we will do whatever it takes to protect this status quo. Even labeling those who seek to expose the truth as criminals and terrorists.”
Is it too much to ask that an industry that profits from animals should be expected to treat the animals responsibly? Industry steps up and emphatically responds, “Yes!!! That is too much to ask.”
It’s not just about the animals, either. Some experts have speculated about the deleterious effects to the food supply and the risk it poses to the health of human beings. As usual we are more than willing to cut off our noses to spite our faces if, while in the process, we can make a few bucks.
Transparency is the best weapon against this sort of thing. Most forms of evil thrive best in the seclusion of privacy.
So called “Ag-Gag” laws criminalize attempts to discover animal abuse by means of secret videotape, failure to disclose ties to animal rights groups during the hiring process, and require all video to be turned over to police within 24-48 hours, etc. (The latter eliminates the power of viral videos.) A bill in Arkansas seeks to prevent “harm” to a “livestock or poultry operation.” Animal abuse is acceptable but don’t try to harm a sacred cow like an “operation.” (Rhymes with “corporation.”)
Last year, Missouri, Utah and Iowa passed ag-gag laws. There are now five states with ag-gag laws on the books.
In a bit of good news, three states (New Mexico, New Hampshire and Wyoming) killed proposed ag-gag legislation this year.
Even so, more states are currently considering getting on board in the ag-gag game: Arkansas, California (the land of “happy” cows), Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont (the home of Ben & Jerry’s).
Without the power of video people will still have the right to report what they see. And we all know how that story turns out. They’ll be fired, harassed, maligned and marginalized and caught in a He Said, She Said situation where nothing of any value will ever happen. Industry thinks of that outcome as the freedom to operate with total impunity.
Behold the power of the agricultural lobbies. They can take fast, swift and decisive action when they are in the mood. Unfortunately they have opted to use this power for ill. It’s enough to make me sick to my stomach.
What a masterful piece of reporting, Tom. I like your “no bull” approach. You are definitely becoming your very own “brand” when it comes to lifting the veil on the poopy side of corporations.
No one’s going to put a ring through YOUR nose. 🙂
Even though I’m a cow I’m not adverse to tipping. From now on you may refer to me as Sir Loin.
Sir Loin. HA!