Animal Abuse, Undercover Videos, and Doing the Right Thing

Caring for livestock is a lot like caring for kids. Both run around my back yard. I would never dream of causing unnecessary pain to either.

Another disturbing undercover video is going to be released this morning.  Apparently it was shot at a cattle farm and depicts awful cases of blatant, deliberate animal abuse.  It has not been made public at the time I write this, but Facebook is all abuzz about it.  I imagine it’s only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream and many who are reading this will stumble across it.

Part of me doesn’t even want to watch, I know it will make me sick to my stomach.  I know it will enrage me.  Animal abuse is wrong, must be immediately exposed, and the offenders must be convicted and punished in a swift and just manner.

There has been a lot of talk about the pending legislation here in Iowa that would ban undercover documentation on farm facilities.  First, let me talk about the intention of this legislation.  Often times, animal rights groups will send individuals under false pretenses to gain employment at farms and then shoot undercover video of activities on the farm.  Sometimes these individuals uncover legitimate abuse.  Sometimes they stage or encourage acts of abuse.  Sometimes they depict humane animal handling as abuse.  Often, they hold onto the footage they shoot and wait to release it to the public at an opportune time.  Often, they edit the footage to depict the problems, both real and concocted, to be bigger and worse than what they are.  Often, the real motivation for shooting these undercover videos is all about money, donations for their charity, and not about correcting the depicted problem.  Because, let’s face it, if they actually corrected the problem of animal abuse, then they’d be out of a job.

Although this calf may experience temporary pain in the working chute, we handle him as quickly and quietly as possible to prevent him from experiencing unnecessary pain in the future.

Could you imagine if someone had knowledge and video footage of a human being violently abused, and decided not to report it until it was the most beneficial to them, weeks or months later?  (I’m not saying this is the case in the most recent footage, but it has been the case in the past.)  To me, that is just as sick as the person doing the abuse.  Animal abuse is a problem, but it is not the widespread, industry standard that animal rights groups would have you believe.  Animal abuse (and not reporting it) is sick, wrong, and absolutely unacceptable.

I personally do not agree with a full out ban of undercover video on farms.  I feel that individuals must be allowed the ability to document legitimate animal abuse.  The solution to the problem is simple.  Make it a crime to possess documentation or have knowledge of animal abuse for more than 24 hours without reporting it to authorities.  Just like it’s a crime to be in possession of child pornography.   Prosecute the individuals who slander farms that are using humane practices.

Animal abuse, just like child abuse, makes zero sense to me. On our farm, we respect and cherish both our children and our animals. Both are our livelihood!

Finally, as a farmer who works with animals every day, I fail to see why anyone would ever intentionally and unnecessarily harm an animal.  It goes against everything within me.  Caring for animals is much like caring for children.  Sometimes there are things we must do on the farm that creates temporary pain in our animals, and although it is hard to do, it prevents bigger and longer term pain in the long run.  Just as I must allow my children to withstand the pain of a vaccination knowing it prevents worse pain in the future, I must care for my livestock the same way.  That doesn’t mean it is easy for me to cause even temporary pain to an animal or my child.  It does mean that I am going to take every measure possible to make my children and my animals as comfortable as possible while looking out for their well-being.

Animals rights activists will often claim that farmers only care about making money, and will abuse their animals to do so.  Abuse, whether child or animal, is counter-productive.  An abused child will face challenges and require more resources in life that will make it harder for them to succeed.  Similarly, an abused animal will take more resources and suffer from reduced productivity.  From a strictly economic standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense either.

But, in the end, the economics do not matter.  It’s simply about doing the right thing for the right reasons.


12 responses to this post.

  1. […] Life as an Iowa Farmwife Animal Abuse, Undercover Videos, and Doing the Right Thing […]

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  3. […] Life as an Iowa Farmwife Animal Abuse, Undercover Videos, and Doing the Right Thing […]

  4. […] Life as an Iowa Farmwife Animal Abuse, Undercover Videos, and Doing the Right Thing […]

  5. Posted by Erica on April 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Excellent article! I think livestock farmers are lumped into the same category when it comes to being a target of animal activist groups. Most care deeply about the treatment of their livestock and do not deserve the treatment they receive from the public. I will be sharing this on Facebook.

  6. Hey there! I’m new to your blog and have read three posts and am enjoying your point of view. However, if you visit my blog, you’ll see that you are missing one angle in terms of WHO is concerned about industry farming, and we’re not all animal rights folk. I am not a big meat eater, but I’m not opposed to steak and egss. I love them, actually . . . I grew up around farms, where the animals out back were food and income, so it’s not offensive to me that we’re eating them. My concern has more to do with the societal trends of centralizing resources and concentrating wealth in the hands of a few, and even more, the impact upon public health. You may believe that GMOs are perfectly fine, and you may be right, but what you don’t mention is that Monsanto is very powerful and the research showing GMOs to be not unsafe (not shown safe, there is a difference) came from Monsanto! I don’t trust Monsanto with my kids’ health. I trust myself. I want choices, not false assurances. But I do like your writing. I think you are the first moderate voice I’ve heard from a farmer’s perspective that provides reason and logic for her views, and I appreciate that. Ordinarily people call me a socialist (or something profane) and refuse to respond further. Guess I just wanted that not all of us are animal rights crusaders, and other than that implied assumption, your writing is very interesting to me. I don’t necessarily agree with your argument in favor of the new whistleblower laws, as I believe that there are remedies in the law already and that these additional laws – especially those that criminalize behavior – sacrifice free flow of information. When big money owns every media outlet, how else do you get info? It’s a much bigger issue than just farms.
    Anyhoo . . . my kids want to dye Easter eggs and I’m not able to think clearly with all of the racket, so I’ll just post and move on, though I will probably be adding you to my blog somewhere if that’s okay . . . would love to have intelligent discussions on these issues but people generally get mad and nothing gets discussed! LOL! Oh, and one more thing – you commented once that childhood diseases are not so much on the rise as better diagnosed, and that is simply not the case. They are definitely on the rise. but that’s another post for another day.

    • Hi Dawn,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m all for a good conversation (some would say debate, but really, I’d rather solve problems). I think you are coming from a rational point-of-view as well. I’ll address a few of the topics you bring up.

      I’m not so sure that wealth is concentrating in the hands of a few, we’ve got a pretty strong middle class here, and a bounty of opportunity. That’s not to say that there aren’t some monopolistic things happening in today’s society.

      I understand that the vast majority of people out there are not animal rights crusaders, and I apologize if I made that implication, it was unintentional. But, individuals that are willing to break the law are the ones that need to be curtailed. Although I put up the justification for the undercover documentation legislation, I personally do not agree with it either. I agree with you, we have sufficient laws already on the books to handle this issue, and why should agriculture be the only industry involved? Banning undercover documentation is the wrong solution. Making it a crime to document illegal activity without immediately reporting it to the authorities is the right solution. Seems simple to me. But, we’re talking politics here, and heaven forbid something simple happen in the legislature! :S

      I hear your concerns about Monsanto, and I think that Monsanto probably does too. I’m not here to defend them, but I’m not going to drag them through the mud either. If you haven’t already read through the discussion on my “factory farmed” post, you’ll find a thorough discussion there. Just be prepared to spend some time there…it’s a long drawn out debate. I think there’s plenty they could do to ease the minds of the consumers, and I firmly believe that they won’t remain in business if they can’t do that.

      Certainly feel free to share this blog….I’m gonna skip on over to yours right now. 🙂

      • Thanks for the response, and I will definitely read that post. There has to be some commonalities in the debate – I’m with you on this one. I suspect that we won’t agree on everything, but possibly on some . . . comment freely. My goal, with my blog, was simply to start a discussion on the common factors among childhood epidemics, and nutrition deficiency and toxicity are two big ones. My daughter has cancer, so I’m a little obsessive but it comes from an honest place. I will just put a link in my next post to your blog, think that’s probably easiest. I do remember my sister’s husband, now a sheep and cattle farmer, gave up crops when the seed saving practice ended. He is interested in Joel Salatin’s practices, because he’s an independent guy and because he likes the biblical feeling to it. Sorry to ramble but it’s late for me. Thanks again,

      • Hello Dawn. I replied this morning to you on my facebook page. Tell you what, after you read through that post about factory farming, come on back and I will address any questions or concerns you have that weren’t already addressed there. My thoughts and prayers are with your family as you battle cancer in your daughter, my heart goes out to you. I’m pressed for time this morning, but do promise to come back and give you more time when I get a chance.

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