The demand for organic products seems to be growing by the day. But what does the “organic” label on meat, dairy and egg products mean for farm animals? And what do Americans think it means?
To find out, the ASPCA did some polling to determine whether people's perceptions of how animals are treated on organic farms measure up with reality. We found some striking discrepancies—for instance, 67% of people who buy animal products labeled “organic” believe that animals on organic farms have significantly more space to move than those raised on non-organic farms. The truth? The government’s organic standards do not require a minimum amount of space per animal.
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Confine, medicate and mass-produce: This is the basic operating strategy of America’s factory farms, and it’s very bad news for farm animals. Today the ASPCA is releasing a new animated video that tells the chilling story of how modern, industrial agriculture practices defy common sense and cut corners—and how the industry follows that up by pushing for state laws to hide the rampant animal cruelty.
“Ag-gag” bills are attempts to criminalize efforts to investigate illegal or unethical activities—like animal abuse, food safety violations and unsafe working conditions—taking place on factory farms. Ag-gag legislation is sweeping this country like an epidemic, with almost half of all states having proposed these unconstitutional bills that would punish those who would speak truth to power. The ASPCA is fighting to block these bills wherever they appear.
Whistleblowers have brought to light horrendous cruelty and sickening conditions on factory farms. The American public deserves to know where our food is coming from, and the ASPCA is committed to improving the lives of farm animals—but these fundamental protections can’t be achieved when it’s a crime to simply expose the truth. It’s time for lawmakers to stop protecting Big Ag and start supporting American values like transparency, a safe food supply and animal welfare.
Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and their welfare.
This might be a new low. Lawmakers in Kentucky got sneaky and added ag-gag language to a bill to ban gas chamber use at animal shelters—a bill that the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups had previously come out in support of. They’re trying to make it illegal to expose animal abuse on factory farms. The same thing is happening in Tennessee. Please take action if you live in TN or KY. Wherever you live, become a part of our Advocacy Brigade to stay updated.
With the help of our advocates and a multi-interest coalition, this year we’ve defeated ag-gag in New Hampshire and Indiana. Last year we defeated ag-gag bills in all 11 states that proposed them.
Finally, all 50 states will have felony-level penalties for animal cruelty now that South Dakota has passed Senate Bill 46—a huge milestone. But this and many other state laws exclude farm animals from protection. We will continue to work to close loopholes: All animal abuse should be taken seriously and punished appropriately.
The Food and Drug Administration says drug companies have agreed to comply with the agency’s recommendation to phase out antibiotics used to accelerate farm-animal growth. Unfortunately, the same drugs can just be relabeled and used to “prevent” the illnesses caused by inhumane, unsanitary conditions on factory farms. This won’t help animals or the growing number of children getting sick from antibiotic-resistant infections.
A Dutch advertising standards commission decided that McDonald’s in the Netherlands was wrong to say on its website that it does not use cheap, fast-growing broiler chickens, and forced the company to take down the language. But these are the same types of chickens used for meat in the States, too. Learn more about fast-growing chickens at TruthAboutChicken.org
Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council has introduced a new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs that effectively bans the use of gestation crates [PDF] that confine mother pigs so tightly they can’t even turn around. We hope the U.S. is taking notes!
The state of Kentucky just got friendlier to some farm animals. Last week, it became the eighth state to outlaw notoriously cruel veal crates, which prevent calves from turning around or stretching their limbs. Unfortunately, the new rules passed by the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission did not include a ban on tail-docking, the painful practice of cutting off dairy cows’ tails (often without anesthesia), and the state still allows the use of battery cages and gestation crates. The commission has a lot more work to do for farm animals.
Farm Animal Squee!! We challenge anyone to watch this video about Penny, a rescued fluffy Silky chicken, and her best friend Roo, a two-legged Chihuahua, without melting!
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You may have heard a lot of talk about Idaho recently, and it’s no small potatoes. Idaho’s governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, recently signed into law a controversial anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill that punishes those who expose abusive conditions on factory farms. Though Governor Otter claims this law will keep agriculture producers “secure in their property,” we, and countless others concerned about the welfare of animals, are extremely concerned about the greater implications of ag-gag.
In passing this bill, Idaho became the seventh state to enact an ag-gag law. By effectively closing out journalists, investigators, and even the general public from animal production facilities, the agribusiness industry can continue to keep consumers in the dark about where their food is coming from.
We have seen countless instances of abuse on industrial farms, including the recent case of a Wisconsin dairy farm that produces cheese for the frozen pizza brand DiGiorno. Undercover footage taken by Mercy For Animals caught workers at this farm viciously kicking, stabbing, beating, and dragging cows, and the footage led to 11 charges of criminal animal cruelty. Without such footage, we may never have known of these horrors, and because of ag-gag laws, we may never learn of countless other, similar instances.