Sunday, February 23, 2014

our individual choices, used collectively for good...

If you are in Boise, Idaho this Tuesday at 11:45am, please join Mercy for Animals as they gather outside the State Capitol for a silent demonstration protesting Idaho's proposed "Ag-Gag" bill, SB1337.

The proposed law would ban undercover filming on farms, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine (the same as convicted animal abusers). The dairy industry claims this law is needed to protect dairies from animal rights advocates who lie on job applications so they can gain access to farms for filming. The bill's sponsor, Twin Falls Republican Sen. Jim Patrick, has compared the animal rights groups to terrorists.

The ag-gag bill passed the Idaho Senate on Friday, February 14th (23-10*) and is awaiting a hearing in a House committee. The bill stems from a 2012 undercover video in Idaho's Bettencourt Dairy ("Warning: Graphic Video Taken at Bettencourt Dairies). The video shows cows being beaten, sexually abused, dragged, and stomped.

So… that's the back story of meeting on Tuesday.

Here's my take …
Cruel and destructive food products and farming practices should be boycotted if not illegal.  I make choices daily in what I buy, do, and watch. I don't believe in protecting the economic well-being of Bettencourt Dairy at the expense of animal welfare and my own beliefs. Bettencourt's mistreatment of their dairy cows is tragic, attributable to a misdirected company culture, and the video of the abuse has raised awareness of the challenges facing the integrity and transparency of our food providers.  I believe economic pressure and boycotts have been and continue to be a vital and reasonable tool in addressing unjust actions when those charged with protecting the vulnerable fail to act. As a citizen of Idaho, I am not required to do business with everyone.  One of the joys of living in Idaho and the United States is the freedom of choice.  If a business wishes to build loyalty it must state what it believes and then act in a manner that reinforces those beliefs.  Bettencourt Dairy is welcome to win back trust and loyalty but trying to shield their misdeeds by proposing laws that discriminate against animals and the public's desire for transparency reveals itself as a vote for special interest.  

"In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than disingenuous laws."

I hope to see you Tuesday.

*Ultimately four Republican senators--Meridian's Clifford Bayer and Russ Fulcher, Sandpoint's Shawn Keough and Nampa's Curt McKenzie, joined six Democrats in voting no. Pocatello Democratic Sen. Roy Lacey joined 22 Republicans in voting yes, moving the bill to the Idaho House.

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