Illegal to film animal cruelty undercover in Iowa

So I changed my topic at the last minute for tonight’s diary entry after coming across something that I consider to be extremely disturbing within animal welfare legislation.

Animal Welfare on factory farming systems, though regulated relies on the inspection process being carried out on average once a year. Workers are fully aware who and what the inspectors are and why they are there. There is a ton of research supporting the change in behaviour of people when they know (or suspect) that they are being observed.

Recently in the USA there have been several large cases of animal abuse occuring within slaughter houses and animal facilities, these cases have been so severe that the USDA has immediately shut down entire facilities. Take for example a two week undercover investigation of Central Valley Meat Co a slaughterhouse in Hanford, California (grapihc & disturbing video here http://www.cok.net/californiacows/). Or the case of Iowa Select Farms in Kamrar, Iowa one of the nations largest pork (pig) producers between April – June 2011 (disturbing video here http://www.mercyforanimals.org/pigabuse/).

Whilst slaughter within food production systems is necessary, I believe it should be humane, without pain, stress or suffering and with dignity and respect to the animal. There are facilities that manage to do this, and in fact I am looking forward to seeing how the UK compares to Slovakia first hand. In the meantime however I don’t believe that official inspections get to see the whole story of the day to day runnings, and that sometimes a undercover approach works best. In fact when undercover films are released to the public, they generally attract a lot of media attention causing a public outcry and forcing rapid action to protect the animals.

It has therefore shocked me that Iowa, the state where the massive pig abuse took place in March this year quitely passed legislation making it illegal (a misdemenor) for undercover filming to take place. This means that anyone exposing animal abuse such as in the cases above would be prosecuted (I don’t understand the american legal system so not sure what penalties are). Undercover investigations are already high risk, in the 1990’s two ABC reporters investigating the Food Lion supermarket chain were found guilty of tresspass and fraud with damages awarded to Food Lion in the millions. However this new legislation is also being considered in Utah, New York, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. It seems that the focus is on protecting facilities and producers rather than focusing on improving and ensuring animal welfare.

Whilst I can understand part of the legislation serving the purposes of protection from losses incurred in the advertising for, hiring and training of new staff. I do not believe this is in the best interest of animal welfare. You can find out more about “ag-gag” laws here: http://animalrights.about.com/od/animallaw/a/What-Are-Ag-Gag-Laws-And-Why-Are-They-Dangerous.htm

In other less disturbing news, I have managed to sell my bed, warddrobe and bookcase which has raised the funds needed for a months rent.