No one knows how common cruelty cases are because there is no independent daily monitoring of farms. We do know, however, that whenever investigators go undercover, they almost always capture evidence of cruelty or appalling suffering, or both.
The 2019 investigations at Fair Oaks dairy farms in Indiana1 and Cooke’s salmon hatchery in Maine2 are among the latest investigations to hit the headlines, but cruelty cases are not new, and every year more emerge. Given the scale of the industry and the small number of investigators, it seems clear that there are more than enough cases to give deep cause for concern.
And we do have to ask the question, if cruelty cases are truly rare, why has the industry gone to so much trouble to get legislation passed in several states that bans anyone revealing what is happening on farms? These are known as ‘ag-gag’ laws and their aim is to prevent the truth ever coming out. If there is nothing untoward happening, why go to the bother?
These laws did not come about because the public demanded them. A 2012 poll found that 71 percent of American adults support undercover investigative efforts to expose farm animal abuse on industrial farms and that 64 percent oppose making such investigations illegal.3 No, they came about because the animal farming industry is trying to protect itself from bad news.
And whether or not farm workers are caught being violent to animals or neglecting their welfare, most farmed animals are industrially reared in a system that is pitiless.
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