Animal Ag Engage

The Misuse of Footage to Misinform the Public

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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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