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Letter: Time for honest discussion about agriculture industry

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Daily Journal.

Indiana’s “Ag Gag” law was put to rest last year in the last hours of the 2013 legislative session, but on the first day of the new session was introduced once again.

The so-called Ag Gag laws make it a criminal offense to take a photo or video without permission at an agricultural operation such as a slaughterhouse, factory farm or even a puppy mill. Proponents claim undercover video or photos showing abuse or cruelty are put in the public domain and cause harm to their business.

Opponents say these laws are unconstitutional, that there are already laws in place to address trespass, and most importantly without video or photos to document abuse and cruelty to farm animals there is no other way for these abuses to be exposed.

In the committee hearing, questions by Sen. Mark Stoops to a spokesperson for several agriculture industries really cut to the chase.

“Isn’t the real concern here that people will find out that chickens are de-beaked, male chickens are all killed … and that when people find out this is how farm animals are treated and this is what goes on they won’t buy your product?”

So now, in 2014, it is time to take off the blinders that the public has on regarding how meat gets to their table, and let’s have a real and truthful discussion on these accepted industry practices, the everyday cruelties farm animals endure that are really what Ag Gag is trying to keep hidden from the public.

Sure there are many videos of cruelty to farm animals, turkeys being thrown, piglets slammed to the ground, downer cows chained and dragged to the killing floor. In these incidents the videos are a tremendous advantage in exposing cruelty and often result in the employee being justifiably fired.

But what really scares the agricultural industry and is at the heart of these Ag Gag laws are the everyday hidden “accepted industry practices” that these videos and photos uncover and cause every compassionate individual to forever question their eating habits.

Without any anesthesia or pain control should chicks have their beaks and tongues sliced off in a guillotine machine? Should all male chicks a few days old be killed in a grinder or suffocated in an industrial size bag because they were born male and are of no use?

Do we accept that piglets have their teeth clipped with pliers, tales cut off and are castrated all without any pain medicine? And is it acceptable for pigs to live their lives in crates so small they cannot even turn around, or egg-laying hens to live their entire lives in a space the size of an 8.5-by-11 piece of paper?

These accepted industry practices are the real cruelty and abuses that the agriculture industries don’t want exposed, and under the cover of Ag Gag laws are trying to hide. Its 2014 and time we have an honest discussion.

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