Ag Gag, or agricultural gag laws legalize animal cruelty. They are designed to criminalize the act of taking photos, filming and sharing images of animal abuse within the agricultural system. America has had such laws in place since the 1990s and sadly Australia is now looking to follow.
Animal rights activists have broken into farming facilities to film abuse and animal cruelty. Although this breaks the law in regard to trespass, animal activists often feel they have no choice. As the industry is extremely secretive there is no other way to identify and to be able to report abuse. Ag gag laws are promoted as a solution to trespass or bio-security risks, but what they are designed to do is to ensure a total lack of transparency or access to information about practices within the industry. These laws will ensure animal abuse, which is often extreme, can continue behind closed doors.
Ag-gag is about one thing only — keeping consumers in the dark about cruel practices.
There is little monitoring of animal welfare within intensive farming systems
There is no independent body of animal welfare for farm animals in Australia and as a result, the agricultural industry “self regulates.” This is totally inappropriate, as they have vested interests, and animal abuse within the system is common. If the public become aware of poor animal welfare, they will demand better conditions and treatment for animals which costs money, so reducing profits. Maintaining secrecy and continuing to block access to what is actually happening to the animals is a high priority for the industry.
Advertising focuses on promoting positive images of happy farm animals in beautiful pastures. The reality is shockingly different.
Intensive farming systems are first and foremost about profit
It is impossible to provide adequate animal welfare in an automated system. Animals are treated as “products”and massive profits are the aim. It is a multi billion dollar industry, and companies will fight to protect its continuing profitability and expansion.
Common procedures condoned under the Australian Agriculture Codes of practice include tail docking, teeth cutting, de-horning and castration, with no pain relief.
Abuse of animals within the settings of the intensive farms and also at abattoirs is common.
If you have the courage to check out this link, this sort of abuse is why I am proudly vegan! This is heartbreaking to see, but we must educate ourselves if the treatment of farmed animals is to improve. Ag Gag laws allow this terrible abuse to continue.
The same treatment inflicted on domestic animals would most likely result in a criminal charge.
Government legislates overwhelmingly in favour of the agricultural industry
Excerpt from Animals Australia article – “The government department responsible for setting and regulating animal welfare was — and continues to be — the Department of Agriculture in each State. There is an inherent conflict of interest that exists here because the Department of Agriculture wears two hats: promoting and expanding the interests of industry; and animal welfare regulation.
Many legal and academic scholars have written extensively on this conflict of interest and resultant ‘legalised cruelty’ that persists. With some describing this system as the ‘fox being in charge of the hen-house’.
The primary reason for setting these Codes of Practice has been to ensure that animal industries remain as profitable as possible — no matter what the cost in terrible, and avoidable, animal suffering. The economic efficiency term for this is known as “economies of scale”. That is, increasing profits by lowering costs. This has led to the intensification — or ‘factory farming’ — of more than 500 million animals a year in Australia.”
What monitoring is done to oversee the industry?
Compliance with even these minimal Codes is only monitored intermittently by government authorities and to varying degrees in different states of Australia — often only in response to a complaint.
Read more from the RSPCA on how welfare standards for farm animals are currently being developed.
Having the ability to investigate and expose cruel treatment is essential. Documenting the evidence is the only way consumers know about the level of routine cruelty within the industry.
While animal cruelty continues, it is essential that investigations to expose that cruelty also continue.
As a result of controversy surrounding ag gag laws, consumer awareness of cruel practices has increased. This is ironically, the exact opposite of what the industry wants.
Australians do not want these laws and will not put up with animal cruelty being deliberately hidden for the sake of profit.
The only laws that need to change are the ones that are failing to protect animals from cruelty.
In NSW animal rights groups are taking legal action in the high court to try to overturn the Ag Gag legislation. If successful, this would make ag gag legislation more difficult to pass in other states.
Ag gag laws seek to make criminals of the people trying to expose the truth of the extent of cruelty within the industry. We need to oppose these laws and any laws that try to curb our right to peaceful protest, and to hold these companies to account for their actions.
What can you do?
Check out these links for resources and information about how you can take action to overturn and prevent ag gag laws.
Voice your opposition to Ag Gag laws by writing to your local MP and the Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud : Minister.Littleproud@agriculture.gov.au
Adopting a vegan diet is a positive action you can take to ensure you are no longer part of the system of abuse