Who Protects Farm Animals?

by Will Potter on May 15, 2013

in Terrorism Legislation

Who protects farm animals?

Congress is considering modest legislation that would set standards for egg laying hens, and standards for labeling eggs. That might seem like a no-brainer to anyone with the slightest concern for animal welfare or food safety, but the ag industry is in an uproar.

As Politico reported: “…powerful pork and beef cattle lobbies are up in arms, fearing the precedent, they say, of Congress dictating housing for livestock.”

In response, Iowa Rep. Steve King wants to repeal every voter-approved animal welfare reform that states have enacted. You read that correctly. As the Humane Society’s Wayne Pacelle notes, he wants to wipe out the reforms that voters have made law.

Meanwhile, the industry is trying to criminalize whistleblowers who expose animal welfare abuses. These “ag-gag” bills are intended to keep consumers in the dark, and punish those who expose abuses rather than those committing them.

This, in short, is the state of animal agriculture.

I sat down with NPR’s Doug Fabrizio to talk about industrial food production, and why Big Ag is fighting so hard to protect the most egregious cruelty on factory farms.

I was invited on the program, Radio West, because of my reporting on “ag-gag” bills and, specifically, the first ag-gag prosecution (in Utah). But our conversation also included a look at how whistleblowers and activists are being labeled as “terrorists,” and a broader discussion of whether an industry that kills 10 billion animals a year, and houses thousands of animals on a single farm, can ever be “humane.”

Listen to the interview below, or on the Radio West site.

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