A Double Edge Sword
Federal and State regulations are set in place to protect it’s citizens and at first glance it may appear to protect human health, the environment, or animal welfare, but closer examination has revealed the contrary. Factory farms must monitor water quality, obtain permits, and pay for cleaning up and disposing their wastes, however, recent provincial regulatory initiatives have removed authorities from regulating the location, scale, and practices of factory farms in their jurisdiction.
The federal government has decided to move in the direction of a program called Smart Regulation, which is intended to facilitate cross-border trade and promote economic growth. This new program favors industry self-regulation and non-binding emission targets other than enforceable standards.
Instead of laws to make standards tougher for factory farms, state legislatures have begun 2013 with a flurry of “ag gag” bills. These bills protect factory farms against undercover pictures or videos that surface from potential whistleblowers. Five states have already passed this bill and since trespassing is already illegal, it’s clear that these bills are meant to chastise advocates, investigative reporters, and whistleblowers. Harsher punishment against whistleblowers seems unjust since many of the investigations have turned up abuse to livestock, discharging unregulated amounts of animal manure, and the passing of sick cattle as healthy in all parts of the country. Something seems to be wrong with the system if civilians are able to capture this footage and our own government who is supposed to be regulating these farms not only doesn’t catch the same things but punishes those people who are making these findings.
If we can’t rely on our government to correct these problems then it falls onto our plate to create change. The public should lobby for knowledge of where these factory farms are located, where they are disposing their waste, and what water sources are at risk. Individuals can also support livestock farms that practice sustainability by checking meat labels in stores for antibiotic-free, free range, or other similar wording that show favoritism towards farms that do things the right way. By making these problems known and showing interest, government officials will have no choice but to crack down on these issues and clean up a system that is corrupt.