Printed on: May 16, 2013

Animal cruelty

Received May 7

Having spent time researching "ag-gag laws," I was delighted to see Isaac Fuhrer's letter "No ag-gag" in today's paper. Mr. Fuhrer explains the problem with ag-gag laws from the perspective of our right to know where our food originates and under what conditions. As an animal welfare advocate, my approach takes a different slant.

There have been horrendous atrocities perpetuated on animals in the name of standard agricultural practices that are zealously protected by Idaho legislators and can be described as nothing short of cruel as defined by Idaho Code 25-3502. But for production animals, Idaho Code 25-3514 applies and they live under different rules, which allow egregious treatment of the animals that has been exposed by people who go "undercover."

Last year, an investigator in Idaho's largest dairy, Bettencourt, resulted in five people fired and three charged with animal cruelty. The Humane Society of the United States filmed diseased (perhaps "mad cow") animals that were processed for our national school lunch program in California. I've personally witnessed conditions at a local "dairy" -- filthy, unbelievably filthy -- and yes, I have worked on a dairy farm so I know conditions are not pristine.

Fowl have their beaks seared off; some states allow for hogs that can't stand up for 116 days in small crates to be legally hanged. Diseased livestock are processed right along with the healthy.

If things were on the up and up in our food-production chain, an "ag-gag" law wouldn't be necessary, would it? (Word count: 250)

Andi Elliott