Investigations exposing the realities of factory farming and live exports have been a big part of why Compassion has been so successful. Some of them had to be undercover investigations. Otherwise it would have been impossible to know the truth about what happens to animals behind closed doors. Indeed, many like-minded organisations throughout the world now investigate, one way or another, how animals are reared, transported and slaughtered.
In the mid-1990s, for example, investigators from Compassion filmed appalling treatment meted out to animals exported from the UK to Europe. These video images made a tremendous impact. They helped galvanise a mass movement against live exports. More recently, our investigations have revealed the shocking truth about how farm animals are often treated throughout Europe.
We also rely on researchers, some of whom use the Freedom of Information Act, to track trends, follow key developments and obtain data. Then, we are in touch with whistleblowers; insiders with access to information and stories to tell, who alert us to practices that wouldn’t otherwise come to light.
Blowing the whistle in any way, shape or form is essential in a free society. Many farmers, are open about what they do and work with us to improve animal welfare. But, sadly, others don’t want the public to know what goes on, especially on factory farms.
This is why our office in the USA has signed onto an important initiative opposing what are called Ag-Gag Laws.
Ag-Gag Laws are legislative proposals designed to stop people like us from finding out what’s going on. They seek to criminalise investigations of farms that reveal critical information about animal production. They make illegal, for example, photography and filming without the farmers’ consent.
These bills threaten to perpetuate animal abuse on industrial farms. They could also threaten workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, law enforcement investigations and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply.
The coalition that we are working with is vigorously opposing Ag-Gag Laws. It includes about 40 organisations, ranging from Best Friends Animal Society to Earth Save and the National Freedom of Information Coalition. Every group in the coalition questions the constitutionality of Ag-Gag Laws as infringing First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press.
Just this month, Compassion USA, along with six other like-minded organisations, came together to oppose the introduction of an Ag-Gag bill in New Hampshire. Previous investigations into farming practices in California led to the largest meat recall in the nation’s history. The investigation revealed horrific animal abuse.
No wonder the authorities in some US states want to stop people knowing the truth. They really do have something to hide. That is why we and others won’t rest until the truth is out and factory farming is brought to an end for good.
Everyone can play a part in making sure the spotlight is shone on farmed animal abuse. Please click here to learn what you can do.