Ag-gag laws: Keeping cruelty mum

Another investigation into a pig breeding facility was announced today. This time, D.C.-based Compassion Over Killing was the group behind the exposé. Among the group’s findings were:

  • Poorly performed castrations that resulted in herniated intestines
  • Workers pushing the herniated intestines back inside the piglets, then wrapping the area with tape
  • Countless sick or injured piglets left to suffer without veterinary care, many of whom later died
  • Sows languishing with uterine prolapses and later dying
  • Forced cannibalism: intestines from dead piglets are pulled out and turned into “gruel” to feed back to pigs
  • Layers of feces caked on the floor of crates and filthy, fly-infested conditions

The investigation revealed the routine suffering mother pigs endure when confined to cages where they can’t even turn around for months on end, like one whose hooves had become so overgrown she could hardly walk.

The type of footage COK documented is the very footage that animal agribusiness doesn’t want consumers to see. They know most people are horrified to see footage of intelligent, sensitive animals lined up like parked cars and unable to engage in important natural behaviors. That’s why several states now have introduced so-called “ag-gag” laws.

Ag-gag laws proposed in Iowa, where the COK investigation was conducted, as well as Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and most recently Utah would make it a crime to take photos or videos of a farm without permission from the owners. Some of the bills would even make it illegal to possess the video footage.

Undercover investigations done by groups like The Humane Society of the United States have resulted in findings that have helped curb potential threats to public health. For example, one investigation The HSUS conducted at a slaughter plant that provided meat to the USDA school lunch program documented workers shoving, kicking, and even using a forklift to try to get former dairy cows who were too sick or injured to stand up to walk to their deaths. This spurred the largest meat recall in U.S. history and led to a new federal policy banning the slaughter of “downer” cows.

The bills are opposed by animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights, and constitutional rights organization. Who supports them? The people who don’t want you to see where your meat, milk, and eggs come from.

Check out this map of undercover investigations and ag-gag laws from If you live in a state where ag-gag laws have been proposed, contact your legislators and ask them to protect animals and food safety by voting against the bills.

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