Most of you have probably heard the famous quote by Paul McCartney “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” Well, this might be the case but slaughterhouses don’t have glass walls and neither do factory farms, so it is near impossible for us to know exactly what goes on inside them.
Animals raised for food in Australia are afforded very limited legal protection. The same laws that protect our beloved pets from cruelty do not apply to farm animals. Model Codes of Practice for livestock production exist but they are only guidelines and monitoring compliance with these guidelines is patchy at best. It is extremely rare for government officials or the farm industry itself to identify or report acts of animal cruelty, so it is left up to animal activists to expose the mistreatment of farm animals, usually through the use of hidden cameras.
Several states in the US have introduced legislation, known as ‘ag-gag’ laws, that make it illegal for animal rights groups to secretly film on farms. These laws, backed by powerful farming industry lobbyists, lump animal activists together with terrorists and use fear, standover tactics and the threat of prosecution to prevent them from exposing the truth. As Animals Australia so eloquently puts it: “While it’s being couched as addressing ‘trespass’ or ‘biosecurity’ concerns, make no mistake: ag-gag is about one thing only — keeping consumers in the dark about cruel practices.”
It should also be noted that ‘ag-gag’ are not only a threat to those attempting to expose animal cruelty but also to those concerned with food safety, labor issues, free speech, and freedom of the press. The bills would apply equally to journalists, activists and employees. By prohibiting any type of undercover recordings, a farm’s own employees would be prohibited from attempting to record food safety violations, labor violations, sexual harassment incidents or other illegal activity, including animal welfare concerns.
Now Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is spearheading a campaign to pass similar ‘ag-gag’ laws here in Australia. Rather than bringing tougher penalties on those who seek to expose animal cruelty, we need tougher laws and better systems for prosecuting the perpetrators. The installation of compulsory CCTV cameras in all commercial animal facilities would be a great start.
Please speak out against these proposed laws by signing the petitions below:
Lastly, we applaud Michelle Bridges for recently taking a stand against the proposed ‘ag-gag’ laws. You can read her article here: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/michelle-bridges-20140520-38mdo.html
She exposed herself to and has received harsh criticism from the ever-defensive and powerful farming lobby, so what she did was gutsy. Go Michelle!
Content for this article was sourced from Voiceless, the animal protection institute, an independent, non-profit think tank focused on raising awareness of animals suffering in factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia. For more information on this topic please go to :