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The shocking images made headlines across the country: workers at Idaho’s largest dairy factory farm beating cows with canes, jumping on their backs as they moaned in distress, kicking them in the face, and even dragging sick and injured animals across concrete flooring with chains attached to their necks.

Captured on hidden camera by an investigator working with Mercy For Animals, these horrific images led to criminal animal cruelty charges against multiple workers, including a manager of that facility. Consumers were outraged and started calling for greater oversight and stronger laws to protect animals on factory farms. Major food retailers, including Kraft Foods, Wendy’s, and In-N-Out Burger, responded by immediately cutting ties with the facility or implementing meaningful animal welfare policies.

Ag-Gag's Gag Reflex Image source: Mercy for Animals

But what’s perhaps even more shocking than the graphic video footage is the response from Idaho’s dairy industry and its lackeys in the state legislature. Rather than working to ensure that animals are protected from needless cruelty and violence, the dairy industry proposed, and the state passed, an “ag-gag” law that makes it a crime, punishable by imprisonment, to simply photograph or videotape abusive, unsanitary, or otherwise unethical activity on a farm.

In other words, they don’t want to stop criminal cruelty to animals. They just want to stop people from exposing it. Even employees and journalists who take photos or video to document misconduct on farms — whether it’s mistreatment of animals, food safety hazards, worker safety violations, sexual harassment, embezzlement, or environmental crimes — could face criminal prosecution under this dangerous new law.

Ag-Gag's Gag Reflex Image source: Mercy for Animals

Many of the lawmakers behind Idaho’s ag-gag law received massive campaign contributions from the dairy industry. As documented by the nonprofit National Institute on Money in State Politics in 2012, Idaho’s agricultural lobby paid more than half a million dollars to political powers in the state.

One Nation, Under Gag

Although similar ag-gag laws have been passed in a few other states at the behest of the multibillion-dollar meat, dairy, and egg industries, the majority of ag-gag bills have been defeated. In fact, last year 15 ag-gag bills were introduced in 11 states, and all of them were voted down, vetoed, or dropped following widespread and vocal opposition from the American public. That’s because Americans want more transparency in food production, not less. We want to know how our food is produced and how animals on factory farms are treated so that we can make informed decisions.

Sadly, too many animals on factory farms suffer out of sight and out of mind because there is no governmental body charged with overseeing their welfare. Furthermore, employees who witness abuse are often too fearful of violent retaliation or losing their jobs to report it. In this broken system, the job of documenting and enforcing animal cruelty laws is often left to concerned citizens, journalists, and investigators with nonprofit charities.

Given the abysmal state of affairs, our lawmakers should be pressing for stronger animal protection laws, more oversight, and greater transparency. The push for ag-gag laws is misdirected, dangerous, and a slap in the face to consumers nationwide.

What You Can Do

Lead image source: Smartshiva / Wikipedia Commons

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157 comments on “The Factory Farm Gag Reflex: Allow Animal Cruelty, Ban People From Exposing it”

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Buffy Berger
7 Months Ago

That is a phrase I am hearing all too much lately with a lot of issues that should be addressed not swept under a rug and pretend it doesn't exist. Well I for one know looking at other's of posts that like minds find just that. We will think of something together!

Jeannie Terry
7 Months Ago

So unfair! Reveal the truth!

Vivian Brien
7 Months Ago

This is one of the most evil laws man has made. I say man, because likely it was a man. I hope people ignore the law and continue to report abuse. I hope this back fires on the factory farming industry.

Susan Ruthroff
7 Months Ago

I've decided to stop eating meat. A don't want these monsters that treat these animals like this profiting from me. Maybe if more people did they'd have to stop this shit. This cuntry is starting to make me really sick.

Renee Henderson
7 Months Ago

like someone said BOYCOTT!!!!!!!! we can do without milk and meat long enough to make a difference I am personally a vegetarian, and drink soy milk , The horrible lives these animals are put through and the abuse they sustain isn't it worth us standing up and boycotting milk and meat for them!!!!

Adam Andrew Manzira
7 Months Ago

Healthy cows healthy milk

Margaret Fawthrop
7 Months Ago

Ag gag is a disgrace - nearly as bad as the animal abuse -democracy? What democracy?

Belinda Burkart
7 Months Ago

Educate yourself and don't buy products from these people flood your elected officials w letters of disgust for these practices and protest, protest , protest PLEASE do it for the animals that don't have a voice!!!!!!

Rocio Cardenas
7 Months Ago

These workers must have family members, wives, girlfriends, and I am appalled that these women are not intervening. As women we must speak our voice for those without a voice; just as we once had to fight for our rights; the dairy industry especially since the momma cows are not allowed to be mom's to their calves. This action alone tears my heart.

Patricia Sharon
7 Months Ago

Just think about all the nasty ness , they live in and the abuse. Makes me sick. So I buy local and started trying to eat veggies . There's farms are not farms they look more like torture chamber to keep these animal like this is a disgrace . That's not farming u sickos. And that goes for the AG-GAG LAWS. What does this teach our children, that abuse to animal is ok. NO ITS NOT. STOP NOW, FOR ALL LIVING THING ARE GODS CREATIONS. NOT TO BE ABUSED, SO SAD.


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