The governor of Tennessee has vetoed the state's ag-gag bill, SB 1248/HB 1191, which would have required that photographs and videos of animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours. In general, "ag-gag laws" are dangerous because they protect the animal abusers and punish whistleblowers who are trying to expose animal cruelty.
As reported by Will Potter of Green is the New Red, prosecutors have dropped the charges against a woman who was the first ag-gag defendant. "Ag-gag" laws are designed to stop activists from documenting cruelty against farmed animals with photos, video and audio recordings. Although the laws vary from state to state, they tend to infringe on free speech and freedom of the press, and would apply equally to employees and journalists attempting to document unsafe work conditions, sexual harrassment, food safety violations, and other illegal activity.
In February of 2013, Amy Meyer was on a public street in Draper City, Utah, when she recorded a video of an incapacitated cow being carried around by a tractor at the Dale Smith Meatpacking Company. The manager called the police, who allowed her to leave after she explained that she was on the public easement and not on the slaughterhouse's property. She later learned that she was being charged under the state's new ag-gag law, which prohibits shooting video of an agricultural operation while trespassing. Just 24 hours after Potter broke the news and public outrage erupted on April 29, the Draper City prosecutor dismissed the charges. If convicted, Meyer, who was represented by an attorney paid by PETA, faced up to six months in prison.
The prosecutor based the dismissal on the fact that Meyer was not trespassing and the fact that this was obvious from her video footage.
Although the charges were dropped, Meyer's case demonstrates the danger of ag-gag laws. Focus shifts from the animal cruelty to whether or not the person shooting the video was standing in the public easement. These laws are intended to help big ag cover up their crimes and misdeeds.
In the animal protection movement, Mother's Day is a time to focus on dairy cows and veal, and Liberation BC has come up with the cow ribbon as a way to get the word out. Rebecca Gindin-Clarke, Research and Information Director for Liberation BC, says, "The campaign exists to bring attention to all of the mothers of the dairy industry who lose child after child so that humans can take their milk." Pin it on your purse or your lapel, and every time someone asks why you're wearing a cow ribbon, you have a chance to tell people about the cruelty of the dairy and veal industry.
The dairy industry is built on the practice of taking babies away from their mothers. The cows must go through pregnancy and birth to maximize their milk production. What happens to all those baby cows?About half of the female calves will grow up to replace their mothers in the dairy, but the other half and nearly all the male calves are slaughtered for veal.
After two cycles of pregnancy, birth and milking, the adult females are considered spent and are sent to slaughter at the age of four or five years. The cows have been bred to produce outrageous amounts of milk. In the past, cows produced 16 pounds of milk per day - just enough to feed a calf. But thanks to selective breeding, hormones, and an unnatural diet, cows today produce 50 pounds of milk per day. When they go to slaughter, about 10% are "downed" - so weak they cannot stand.
Veal is a by-product of the dairy industry. In a factory farm, calves spend their entire lives in veal crates. Chained by the neck, the crate isn't even big enough for the calf to turn around.
After 8-16 weeks of this torture, the calves are slaughtered for veal.
We don't need milk, and we don't need veal. We can survive and thrive as vegans.
Liberation BC sells the cow ribbon for a $5 donation and I encourage you to support them, but they don't mind if you make your own with a black magic marker and white ribbon.
Images of downer cow and veal crates courtesy of Farm Sanctuary
Portrayals of animal exploitation usually either depict the animals as willing participants in their own exploitation, or encourage the viewer to laugh at the animals' plight. Check out these ten examples.