5 Investigations We Wouldn't Know About If Ag-Gag Laws Were Common
Last month, Idaho passed a law -- commonly referred to as an "Ag-Gag bill" -- that would ban anyone -- including journalists, activists and employees -- from taking footage inside slaughterhouses and factory farms and documenting any workplace violations and animal cruelty. The agriculture industry presents these measures as privacy protection -- but critics, naturally, see these as First Amendment attacks that restrict whistleblowers. And efforts to expand Ag-Gag legislation continues to grow. As an ABC News report points out:
In addition to Idaho, three states have already considered some form of "ag-gag" legislation in 2014; lawmakers in Arizona, New Hampshire and Indiana introduced bills this year. Eleven other states introduced bills in 2013, but not a single bill passed that year. ...There are laws on the books in six states, including Iowa, where it is a crime to get hired at a farm under false pretenses.
In the last year alone, the group Mercy For Animals has had big exposes of factory farms -- all of which would have never come to light if Ag-Gag laws were in place. Here are five of them. Later this week, we'll showcase exposes from other groups as well:
Bettencourt Dairy Farm
Workers at an Idaho dairy farm were filmed beating, stomping, dragging and sexually abusing cows in 2012, exposed by video footage taken by the group Mercy for Animals. Following the expose, Kraft Foods, the largest food company in the United States, announced a new policy requiring all its dairy suppliers to phase out the practice of tail docking cattle, a practice generally considered cruel. (Watch the undercover report.)
Tyson Pork Farm
Hidden camera footage taken at a Tyson pig factory farm in Oklahoma revealed employees kicking, throwing, hitting and body slamming pigs. The footage also showed deplorable conditions for pigs in gestation crates -- cages that inhibit their movement that have been banned in several states. Following the investigation, Tyson immediately dropped its contract with the factory farm, and it is now under investigation by local law enforcement. (Watch the undercover report.)
Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Video footage taken by a Mercy For Animals investigator showed disturbing images of workers force-feeding ducks at Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York -- an Amazon.com foie gras supplier. The delicacy is produced by force-feeding the animals with metal pipes three times a day, a practice has been banned in California. While several other retailers have since stopped selling the food, animal rights activists are targeting Amazon, calling on the tech giant to take foie gras off its site. (Watch the undercover report.)
Wiese Brothers Farm
Workers at a Wiese Brothers Farm, a cheese supplier to DiGiorno's in Wisconsin, were filmed kicking, beating and whipping cows, and showed sick and injured cows dragged by a tractor. In the wake of public outrage over the investigation, DiGiorno dropped the supplier, and four workers were charged with 11 counts of criminal animal cruelty. (Watch the undercover report.)
Just last week, Mercy For Animals activists at a Canada's largest turkey farm, Hybrid Turkeys in Ontario, took footage of employees kicking and beating turkeys, sick and injured animals and deplorable housing conditions. Hybrid Turkeys responded to the allegations by suspending four employees who appear in the footage, including a supervisor, and launching an investigation -- though none of the employees have been terminated. (Watch the undercover report.)
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