Video can monitor animal treatment

Posted by Christine, April 27, 2011

The New York Times supports greater transparency rather than less to assure food animals are treated humanely in an editorial following the release of a shocking undercover video:

A supermarket shopper buying hamburger, eggs or milk has every reason, and every right, to wonder how they were produced. The answer, in industrial agriculture, is “behind closed doors,” and that’s how the industry wants to keep it. In at least three states — Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota — legislation is moving ahead that would make undercover investigations in factory farms, especially filming and photography, a crime. The legislation has only one purpose: to hide factory-farming conditions from a public that is beginning to think seriously about animal rights and the way food is produced. Read more…

NY Times blogger Mark Bittman explores the subject in his post, Who Protects the Animals?

Getting caught is a drag.

Just ask Kirt Espenson, whose employees at E6 Cattle Company in western Texas were videotaped bashing cows’ heads in with pickaxes and hammers and performing other acts of unspeakably sickening cruelty.

Yet if some state legislators have their way, horrific but valuable videos like that one will never be made.

But, first, the story: Espenson, who comes off on the phone as sincere and contrite, explained to me that he’d made a “catastrophic error in a very difficult situation,” when ultracold weather caused frostbite in some of his 20,000 cattle. He was short-staffed and had his best employees saving the endangered but viable cows while new workers were asked to “euthanize” those who were near death. Out came the hammers. “We just didn’t have the protocol to deal with it,” he told me. “I made a mistake and take full responsibility.” Read more…

Temple Grandin has advocated for transparency and video monitoring for food animal facilities in her book, Animals Make Us Human.