Animal Ag Engage

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The Misuse of Footage to Misinform the Public

Do animal activists have only the animals’ best interest in mind? The answer to that question is no. If they had the animals’ best interest in mind they would not hold a video for days, weeks or even months before telling the farm about animal cruelty.  In fact, a person who truly cares about the animals’ best interest would speak up to stop the abuse that is happening in front of them and then report the employees’ behavior to the farmer that day. But instead animal rights activists hold the videos for long periods of time for editing. The videos are typically released to the farmer and the media at the same time giving the farmer no time to rectify the problem.

A great example of this appeared recently when Idaho ag-gag legislation proceeded through the Idaho Senate and made its way to the House for consideration. Animal rights activists needed a new plan of attack so Mercy for Animals released a second video of an Idaho dairy that they had been holding since 2012. This video showed sexual abuse to the cattle which was not seen in the first video. Why was this outrageous video footage held? So that Mercy for Animals could make a splash and get the media’s attention with a new, more exciting story.

Animal activists also target information that consumers don’t understand to make the agriculture industry seem cruel. A perfect example is the undercover video released by HSUS last week, February 20th, taken at Iron Maiden Hog Farm. The video showed a farm that had been infected with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv). PEDv is a devastating disease for any farm and causes 100% fatalities to any pig two weeks of age and younger. The video showed piles of dead baby pigs that died from the virus. The commentary then focused on a practice the farmer was trying, to build immunity in the sows by feeding the intestines of the dead piglets back to the mothers. During the HSUS press conference, HSUS representatives accused the farmer of turning the sows into cannibals. There is currently no treatment for the virus and veterinarians recommend “feedback,” or placing diarrhea from the sick piglets into the sows mouth to build immunity. The farmers are not being cruel; they are trying to prevent another deadly outbreak in the future.

Animal rights activist groups are masters of PR—but it’s all smoke and mirrors. The truth, though less “sexy” is that farmers and ranchers have nothing to hide. There are aspects of livestock production that aren’t pretty—but they’re practices approved by scientists and veterinary professionals with the utmost passion for animal care. It’s just too bad that the media doesn’t find merit in those stories, and instead gives credence to outrageous propaganda by the masters of spin.

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Farm Protection Legislation

These pieces of legislation have been given several nicknames over the past few years such as “Ag-gag” and anti-whistleblower. There has been a large push from animal rights activists to defeat the proposed legislation. But farmers and ranchers are concerned with their livelihood when the activists are trying to put them out of business. There have been many reported cases of animal cruelty and undercover videos taken on farms but in many cases the farmer sees the footage for the first time on the news or in the paper not from the individual that recorded videos on their farm. The farmer needs to know if cruelty is happening on their property so the individual responsible can be confronted.

These proposed bills would require videos to be turned over to authorities within 24 hours to 5 days depending on the state. The legislation requires mandatory reporting of any cruelty so the animals are protected from extended neglect or abuse. The main thing that animal rights activists are supposedly concerned with is the animals’ best interest. So why do they hold evidence of cruelty for months before turning it over to authorities? In many cases the videos are edited and held until enough footage is available to give to the media or put on the activist website and by the time they are released the animals and employees involved in the video could have already been removed from the farm.

In many cases the farms are strategically chosen. They typically supply to large chains or brand name products that consumers will recognize. Either the video footage is given to the retailer or the retailer feels pressure from the media to drop the farmer as a supplier which can easily force a farmer out of business.

These bills have been introduced to protect farmers. They are not to cover up cruelty but to require it to be turned in, in a timely manner to farmers and authorities. Bills became law in Iowa, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Kansas, and Utah and there are bills in progress in Arizona, Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire.