The Battle For Transparency on North Carolina Factory Farms

In 2015, an animal rights activist working at a poultry farm in Rockingham County, North Carolina, used a hidden video camera to capture a 22-year-old poultry worker kicking, throwing, and stomping on chickens. When Mercy For Animals, the animal rights group behind the covert investigation, released the tape, poultry worker Danny Cajija Miranda was arrested and charged with four counts of animal cruelty.

Animal rights groups have long relied on undercover investigations to expose abuse on factory farms and provide the public with a glimpse inside the private facilities that produce the majority of the meat Americans put on their tables.

Over the years, the investigations have turned up evidence of animal mistreatment as well as crowded, dirty facilities. Video footage and other documentation has led to animal cruelty charges, slaughterhouse shut-downs, lawsuits, meat recalls, and animal rescues. They have also driven some eaters to turn away from factory-farmed meat in favor of more humane and environmentally friendly options.

Rather than working to encourage reform on farms, however, several states have instead enacted laws that forbid the efforts to document the problem. Known by many opponents as “ag-gag,” “anti-sunshine,” or “whistleblower suppression” laws—and by many supporters as “farm protection” laws—these laws prohibit farm or slaughterhouse employees from filming or taking photographs at their workplaces without their employer’s consent. 06-26-17

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