My thoughts are on the “ag-gag” legislation recently introduced in almost every state with significant involvement in animal agriculture. I own a business. I run a janitorial corporation, and have also owned rental property. Therefore, we are in other folks’ property and other people are in our property. In neither instance has there been any protection for us from a worker or onlooker taking pictures if we make any mistakes. Nor do I believe there should be. I think it is safe to say that most Americans would agree with that. So my company is not granted protection. Yet there is no one who is really at the mercy of us being able to abuse anyway, while there is no one more defenseless from abuse than animals who are at their caretakers’ mercy.
Seriously, why would I need these laws in my work unless I had something to hide?
If special protection against exposure is granted to farms, how can we deny granting it to every business, from child care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and any other facilities where care is given to human subjects, to building sites, where contractors may be using substandard materials.
I recognize that cruelty to animals may not be committed at every farm. But it does happen at some farms. Animal care laws are often difficult to enforce adequately, and in absence of close supervision of workers, are frequently brazenly defied. People taking pictures are not destroying any property. They are simply documenting actions that become controversial when they involve actions that are either illegal or immoral.
There are a lot of cruel people, who must not be given a free pass to take out their frustrations, aggression, sadism etc. on animals in any industry. With ag-gag laws in effect, farm work would become the perfect job for a sadist. One cannot say that agribusiness would police itself, because if that were true, there would not be the examples of abuse that have already been exposed by undercover investigation.
There have been plenty of proven incidents verified by indisputable photographs from farms where ag-gag laws were not in effect. If my industry had as many proven incidents of immoral and illegal activity as animal agriculture has had in recent years, would anyone vote for legislation calling for less oversight?