Kim Alboum, North Carolina state director for the HSUS, supplied the counterargument in a statement, “Rather than trying to prevent animal cruelty and food safety problems, this bill shows that the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s intent is to keep Americans in the dark. Undercover investigations expose abuses that would otherwise remain hidden behind closed barn doors.”
Can’t shield everything
“Consumers, as you know, have been deeply affected by the oft-posted videos that are so deplored by your industry,” Katy Keiffer, host and producer of a food politics and policy show on the Heritage Radio Network, told those attending the recent Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va.
“Tell people what the problems are,” Keiffer says. “Don’t hide behind these legislative farm protection bills or the rhetoric of terrorism.”
Ag-gag bills may not be the answer to shielding animal agriculture from the court of public opinion.
“These videos display egregious cruelty to animals,” she says. “To pretend it isn’t happening or ascribe that behavior to ‘just a few rotten eggs’ suggest to consumers that you don’t really care and that you are really hiding industry wide abuse.” Keiffer knows this isn’t the case across all of agriculture, as she has toured meat-processing facilities and has hosted such animal agriculture professionals as Temple Grandin on her radio show.
“Agriculture is a hugely important industry to the United States. It employs hundreds of thousands of workers and supports thousands of ancillary businesses. The industry has created extraordinary systems and efficiencies that have had a worldwide impact. Producers have a lot to be proud of. There’s a lot to praise here,” says Keiffer.
How would it look on YouTube?
Also appearing at the Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit was Andy Vance, a contributing writer for Feedstuffs. Although he grew up on a farm and has had direct experience in agriculture, he approached the subject as a journalist.
“I’m a big advocate of webcams. If you’ve got nothing to hide, then show me,” he said.
Many large agricultural producers and processing plants are already utilizing webcams as a part of their auditing programs to help prevent animal mistreatment. The one downside is these videos are typically only sent back to the company doing the auditing — not the public.