In late 2011, an animal rights organization, Mercy for Animals, sent in an undercover volunteer to pose as an employee at a North Carolina turkey factory owned by Butterball. The volunteer discovered turkeys were being treated in appalling ways–abused, dragged, left with diseased eyes, broken bones and open wounds. The undercover video the volunteer had taken confirmed the chilling tale.
As a result of the video, five employees were charged with various felonies, and misdemeanor animal cruelty. To animal rights activists (and those who appreciate food animals being treated humanely) this crackdown was a “win.” But because of situations like this, big agribusiness companies are putting their money and muscle into legislation that would prevent these atrocities from coming to light.
Referred to as “Ag-gag” legislation, the bills are being created to protect these large corporations by punishing those who conduct the investigations exposing the conditions in factory farm operations. This legislation makes it illegal for undercover investigative reporting for the purpose of exposing any mistreatment.
In addition to preventing watchdog groups from protecting animal rights, these bills will make it more difficult to understand what is really going on in our food chain.
To date, several states have already passed Ag-gag bills, including Missouri, Nebraska, and Tennessee–and many other states are considering passing similar legislation.
To find out more about Ag-gag bills, farm animal cruelty and what you can do to help make a difference, please visit the ASPCA’s website.