It’s a cold, rainy day on our farm. I’ve been in the house waiting around for a plumber to come, so I’ve been on the internet quite a bit today. I can say Twitter is driving me nuts! I should say some of the people I’ve been talking to on Twitter are driving me nuts.
There is one person, who will remain nameless, who is continually attacking all things agriculture and food related. When I try to call her on things she basically says my experiences don’t count. Today we were talking about banning people from lying on employment applications and then taking undercover video on your farm. She thinks a law banning this is awful and takes away her right to free speech. It’s because of these videos happening that some farmers are unwilling to let strangers tour their farms. It’s not because we’re trying to hide anything, it’s because these hours of videos are edited down to a couple of minutes and made to look like wide-spread abuse is happening when it’s not.
At a dairy conference this spring, one of the key-note speakers had been a victim of this. He hired someone who turned out to be an undercover animal rights activist. This person worked on the farm for a large amount of time. During this time he filmed one employee abusing an animal once. The poor farmer didn’t find out about this until a reporter called for a comment on the video. The farmer immediately called law enforcement and fired the employee shown in the video. That employee was charged and it turns out the animal rights person who filmed it admitted to participating in the abuse and was also charged. Apparently the activist didn’t really care about animals, just shutting down the farm.
The farmer and his family had to have 24-hour protection because of all the threats against them. That one video put their lives in danger. Had the farmer witnessed the abuse himself, the employee would’ve been fired immediately. I, personally, would bet the person with the camera initiated the abuse.
I don’t understand how passing a law preventing this is wrong. If you think abuse is going on at a farm, then tell the authorities and let them handle it. The woman I was talking with today says no one will come forward, or they’ll be fired. I’m betting you can make a complaint without giving your name. If not then maybe it wouldn’t matter if you were fired, because why would you want to work for some one who abused animals.
I also pointed out that she probably wouldn’t like someone filming her and putting a video online without her knowing it. She told me that happens all the time while she’s giving talks. This didn’t seem the same to me. I asked her how she would feel about someone coming into her home and filming. I said my farm is my home and I don’t see how it’s right for someone to take video without letting me know. She blew that off by saying no one wants to come to “my” farm. I feel like no farm is off-limits to these people. I think we need laws like this to protect families and innocent people.
I know that on some farms, bad things sometimes happen. I would bet the vast majority of farmers and managers treat their animals well and an employee who wasn’t doing the same would be fired. A well cared for animal makes more money, which is what she seems to think is all “factory farms” care about.
I wish I was seeing more people stand up for animal agriculture. It makes me angry and sad to see my way of life constantly coming under attack. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one willing to say, we have a big farm, we care about our animals, and so do our employees. If you don’t want to eat meat or use animal products that is fine with me. I won’t attack you for living your life as long as you don’t attack me for living mine.
PS-If you’re reading this (you know who you are), I could not fit all my thoughts into tweets. I welcome a response if you have something you would like to add.