It seems that about every year or so we hear of a new ”ag gag” law somewhere looking to prohibit activists from surreptitiously filming the treatment of animals inside conventional farming situations––feed lots, confinement hog farms, CAFO’s, etc.. Recently, Kentucky was that somewhere.
As a Kentucky farmer who has livestock, I would just like to say our farm has nothing to hide. We are proud of how we manage our animals and if someone wanted to come and film our treatment of them we would not protest, nor would make them feel they have to film anything secretly. In fact, people do come film. Openly. People come visit our farm often and we are happy to show them the animals, and talk about how we manage them. I don’t think I would do any job I wasn’t proud of, or that I’d be willing to let someone film––boring or not.
But I also have to ask, as much as I despise these laws that prevent activists from protecting animals: How many more videos of animal abuse and unbelievable health conditions do we actually need to see before we stop eating conventionally raised meat? We can’t keep blaming the farmer. We must accept some, if not most of, the responsibility. Hannah and I have a lot of really wonderful conventional farmer friends and most are just honest people looking for a stable way to make more money. And if there remains a stable living in raising animals in a confinement situations, there will be farmers doing so. Many are just chasing the dollar, and the dollar just so happens to be in cheap meat.
I believe people should be allowed to film farms––especially if they feel there’s injustice or abuse occurring––and I also believe that farmers shouldn’t farm any way they wouldn’t be proud to show the world. But we have to start taking the hundreds if not thousands of videos that exist and actually learning from them. The true injustice isn’t that the Big Agriculture is trying to stamp out these videos––should we expect anything less?––but that there is still an incredibly vibrant market for cheap meat despite all the videos and documentaries and books and information that already exist. We all know that every McDonald’s Burger and every steak Doritos Taco from Taco Bell (sorry), endorses the cruelty. Be it chicken, beef, turkey or pork, to support cheap meat is to actively invest in the mistreatment of animals, and the degradation of our environment. Buy more organic, local food and less big meat and conventional farmers will take note and change if that is where the money is. Because we don’t need more videos, just a lot less tragedy to film.