A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion hosted by FarmWorld. The topic was legislation that prevents the videotaping and photographing of farming operations without the farmer’s knowledge or permission. Also on the panel were representatives of the print media, Indiana Farm Bureau, and Kim E. Ferraro, Staff Attorney and Director of Agricultural and Water Policy with the Hoosier Environmental Council. While the discussion was spirited, for the most part it traversed some well-traveled ground on this issue, much of which I have written about in previous columns. There were, however, some interesting insights gleaned from the statements made by HEC that provide a glimpse into the agenda behind its animal care facade.
Ironically, just a few days after this panel discussion, another undercover video alleging animal mistreatment made the news. It is getting to be so commonplace that that national news media hardly covers it anymore. The video purported to show mistreatment of hogs on a Minnesota farm. While local media coverage was significant and over-dramatic, very little national coverage occurred. Only the Huffington Post — and I only marginally consider them a news source — picked up the story. There was also something different about this case, the farmer fought back.
Following a allegations by Mercy for Animals, a front group for HSUS, an independent veterinarian, who was taken by law enforcement to the Pipestone Farm facility shown in the video, determined that there were no signs of inhumane treatment or violations of good production standards. Therefore, no charges were filed. The farm did not stop there. They brought in a third party to investigate. The farm’s investigation determined that the employee involved had not been following animal care protocols, and he was immediately fired.
While the farm had done nothing wrong, its image and reputation have been damaged. But this is perfectly acceptable to groups like HSUS and HEC. During the panel discussion, the HEC attorney said that, even if farmers were not doing anything illegally, they still should be subject to unauthorized public inspection and exposure. Ms. Ferraro stated that, if legal and industry acceptable practices of a farm offended the sensibilities of the public, they should be exposed with undercover investigations.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uncovering the agenda behind the animal activist movement. Later in the panel discussion, HEC attacked Farm Bureau on their support of laws that protect farmers from frivolous lawsuits. The National Pork Producers Council asserts that the Pipestone case came in response to HSUS losing a court battle with NPPC over the pork logo, ” HSUS has spent significant amounts of its donors’ money on futile legislative efforts and on a lawsuit that had nothing to do with animal welfare which was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge.”
The real agenda behind the animal activist movement is the total domination and, in some cases, elimination of animal agriculture. These groups are also prepared to fight farmers who try and defend themselves and their industry from these attacks. The anti-videotaping legislation being proposed across the country is an example of this. Farmers are tired of being victims and are not just reacting but being proactive in the fight against those who are committed more to an anti-meat agenda than animal care. This agenda is not limited to the livestock sector, row crop farmers are beginning to face the same battle from biotech and environmental activists.
By Gary Truitt