Should hidden videos taken of animal abuse on farms be able to be used as evidence in court cases?
“But, Amanda, I know animal abuse is real; I’ve watched all those videos on YouTube of factory farmers beating their animals.” This is a statement made by a college student from Michigan who toured our ranch last summer. Of course, I don’t tolerate the bad apples in our industry -- those who mistreat their animals, that is -- but, I know these individuals are few and far between. Why judge an entire industry based on a few bad actors?
I asked this individual to define factory farming. After all, I don’t know any factory farmers. With 98% of farms and ranches in the U.S. family owned and operated, I know that today’s food is grown by people who care about the animals, the environment and the final retail product.
What’s more, I also know that PETA and HSUS supporters are usually behind these terrible videos depicting animal abuse. And, if they aren’t behind the camera catching the action, they are usually the ones initiating the abuse. And, these organizations strategically release these videos to wreak havoc on the agriculture industry, which usually results in litigation, loss of jobs and a direct shot at the markets.
This week’s poll at beefmagazine.com wants to know your opinion on these videos. Several states have introduced “ag gag” laws that would disallow these films as evidence in a lawsuit, or outlaw activists from applying for ag jobs under false pretenses.
Our question is: “Are ag gag laws a good idea for the livestock industry to pursue?”
Of the 300 total votes logged so far, 63% say, “No, livestock ag has nothing to hide and such laws give the impression that we do.” Another 35% are in favor of the legislative measures.
While ag gag laws may protect farmers and ranchers, such laws may also send a signal to consumers that we are trying to hide something. However, we know activists are misrepresenting themselves in applying for jobs on farms, hoping to surreptitiously record incidents on the farm that can be used to their advantage.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Vote today and add your two cents in the comments section below.