"Warning: Disturbing Content. View Discretion is Advised."
This is the warning on videos from the animal-rights group, Mercy For Animals. And the warning is justified, because what viewers are about to witness are some of the most malicious, deplorable and horrific acts that can be done to animals.
For more than 10 years, Mercy For Animals, and other groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have been conducting undercover video operations on farms and slaughterhouses across the country.
Through these videos, activist groups have been able to alter the landscape of agriculture by forcing food recalls, getting grocers and restaurants to terminate contracts with suppliers, and compelling the public to question the ethics of consuming animal products. Convincing states to alter animal housing or handling practices has also been an outcome of the videos.
Now, the agricultural community is fighting back in a number of states by enacting farm protection legislation, commonly referred to as “ag-gag bills.”
Seven states thus far have approved farm protection laws, while other states have voted down or vetoed such proposals.
In order for animal activists to gain access to a farm, they have to seek employment. To do so, the activists will typically falsify information on their resumes or job applications. Aggag bills seek to prevent this type of activity, while also limiting undercover videotaping and photography within animal agricultural operations by requiring the consent of the owner.
Several of the bills make it a crime for the activists not to report abuse within a 24- or 48-hour period of time.
One of the states currently waging battle with the animal- rights groups is North Carolina. The state has proposed a bill making it illegal to lie or fraudulently misrepresent who you are in order to gain access to an operation. It also sets a 24-hour time limit on reporting abuse and allows the use of video, audio or photography.
HSUS has already targeted North Carolina with a television advertising campaign encouraging viewers to contact their legislators to vote “no” on the bill.
Not everyone is buying it.
“It is extremely disappointing that a national group (HSUS) would stoop to such misrepresentation of a bill and lead the public to believe the business community is in favor of animal abuse of any kind. Nothing is further from the truth,” says Gary Salamido, vice president of government affairs for the North Carolina Chamber, in an organization press release about the advertisement. “The debate and lies surrounding this issue are distracting from a bill that not only ends abuse, theft or any other on-the-job illegal activity more quickly but also has two other major components to better use taxpayer dollars and to protect consumers from dangerous financing schemes.”