I am sadly grateful to see the animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farm spread like wildfire on social media. As I scroll down FB, the news coverage and horrifying video shot by the non-profit, Animal Recovery Mission, make up 50% of my feed. Many of my “non animal activist” friends are even posting it.
It truly is awful the abuse that took place, especially since Fair Oaks Farm prided itself as a family destination.
But, as this terrible situation makes its way across social media feeds and headlines the 5 O’clock news, there is something even more crucial to point out to consumers. Something few “non-activists” are aware of, yet is vital in this tragedy.
For decades, Big Ag (considered the big producers of agriculture product lobbying on the state and federal level. Think Tyson, Cargill, Smithfield, etc…) has been fighting AGAINST our right to do undercover investigations. These bills are often tagged “Ag Gag” laws – trying to gag us activists from seeing and speaking the truths.
I know so many of you are outraged and disgusted by what you saw done to those innocent cows and you should be, but don’t think this is an isolated incident. This cruel behavior takes place across the United States every single day. Factory farms have been popping up everywhere and with them comes untrained, uncaring employees and greedy owners who were never truly caring farmers – just people who saw dollar signs.
This inhumane treatment doesn’t just happen on dairy farms… think gestation crates for female pigs, battery cages for hens, oh and of course, I will add, breeding operations for dogs… It happens everywhere, which is why it is of the utmost importance that we maintain our right to do undercover investigations and to video the abuse and the neglect that goes on behind closed doors.
And to be clear, these are not fly by night undercover operations just out to screw businesses. The undercover operations take years of planning, training and coordinating. These are professionals who endure the agony of seeing these abuses take place right in front of their compassionate eyes while maintaining a smile and holding back both the tears and the anger they feel inside.
Can you even imagine loving animals so much that you agree to go undercover to witness them being abused? I don’t think I could do it.
Without the ability to go undercover, cruelty and greed would go unchecked. The treatment of factory farmed animals would be left to those raking in the money. We know that doesn’t work. We also know that the USDA doesn’t have the resources to inspect all the farms across the country. Last I knew there were 10,000 puppy mills alone they were to oversee – that doesn’t account for the actual meat or crop industry. There is no way they have efficient oversight for all of these farms and operations.
As consumers of agricultural product it is your right to know where the products you buy and eat and drink come from. And, as a country who tends to see animals as family, it is your right to know how companies are treating them.
Jewel, a large grocery chain in my home state, has already taken Fairlife milk off the shelves based on the video and public outcry. Coca-Cola says they are investigating as well. These are checks and balances. Without the undercover video, we would have nothing and the animals would suffer silently forever.
Please, as consumers and hopefully, animal advocates, pay attention to legislation on the state and federal level. Iowa FINALLY just lost its battle earlier this year to enact an Ag Gag law. The midwest, the heart of agriculture, will continue to fight to silence us. As voters, these laws come down to YOU – who you vote for matters and I am not just talking Presidential candidate. I mean state and federal legislators – the ones who make laws. KNOW YOUR CANDIDATES and what they stand for.
What we all watched on that video will haunt us for days and months to come, but not having the ability to shoot that video and share it would haunt us for generations. Please protect our right to conduct undercover investigations and be the voice for the voiceless.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi