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‘I Went Undercover at Factory Farms’

As an investigator for the Humane Society of the U.S., Cody Carlson got a job last year at four Iowa egg farms. Today, in the wake of the new law in Iowa that bans undercover investigations, Carlson writes about his experience in The Atlantic.

Instead of confronting animal cruelty on factory farms, the top egg- and pork-producing state is now in the business of covering it up. As one of the people this new law is designed to silence, I’m concerned that Iowa is shooting the messenger while letting the real criminals go unpunished.

Every day at these factory farms, Carlson wore a tiny camera when he went to work.

At each facility, I witnessed disturbing trends of extreme animal cruelty and dangerously unsanitary conditions. Millions of haggard, featherless hens languished in crowded, microwave-sized wire cages. Unable to even spread their wings, many were forced to pile atop their dead and rotting cage mates as they laid their eggs.

The revelations of people like Carlson have already led to major changes in the factory farm world, including a deal between the HSUS and the United Egg Producers that will at least give the hens a little more space, and recent commitments from McDonalds to stop doing business with factories that are known to be serious and serial abusers.

In order to be hired, Carlson had to hide his true intentions. If he did that today, he says, “I might be writing this article from a jail cell.” The new AgGag laws, he writes,

… protect a system where consumers are regularly deceived into supporting egregious animal suffering, deplorable working conditions, and environmental degradation.

They protect guys like Billy Jo Gregg, a dairy worker who was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty in 2010 after being caught punching, kicking, and stabbing restrained cows and calves at an Ohio farm.

[They] protect the slaughterhouses that regularly send sick and dying animals into our food supply, and would prevent some of the biggest food safety recalls in U.S. history.

… With no meaningful state or federal laws to regulate industrial animal farms, [the new laws] take away one of the only forms of public accountability this multi-billion dollar industry has ever faced. Now, the foxes are truly guarding the henhouse.

You can read the whole article here.