June 25th, 2014
08:45 PM ET
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CNN Exclusive by CNN Investigative Correspondent Chris Frates

Wake County, North Carolina - Chickens buried alive. Pigs so sick that their intestines hang out of their bodies. These are some of the grisly scenes from videos taken by animal rights activists who went undercover at farms that produce food destined for dinner tables.

It’s a tactic animal rights activists have used for years, going undercover at slaughterhouses and factory farms to document squalid conditions, abuse and neglect. Their videos have gone mainstream and led to criminal charges, fines and even the largest meat recall in American history.

But undercover video is under attack and with it, activists argue, their ability to expose animal abuses that can make meat dangerous to eat.

Blog: Erin Burnett Out Front

Increasingly, industries that have been infiltrated and exposed by undercover activists are counterpunching. In state capitols around the country, the agriculture industry is pushing legislation that would essentially outlaw undercover investigations and the videos they produce.

In the past two years, three states have passed so-called “ag-gag” laws while 14 others have considered similar legislation, according to The Humane Society of the United States.

Matthew Dominguez of the Humane Society, said undercover investigations are a critical tool activists use to keep a secretive industry in check.

“These investigations have exposed not only animal abuse but also food safety, workers’ rights, environmental issues,” he said. “These ag-gag bills should scare every American because Americans have a right to know what’s happening with their food. They have a right to know where their food is coming from.”

Shocking footage from a chicken farm

Prince Poultry is a chicken farm less than an hour southwest of Raleigh, North Carolina. Posing as a college intern, an employee with the animal-rights group Compassion Over Killing filmed workers burying chickens alive among other decaying birds.

In one scene from the video given to CNN, she asks whether a farm hand is going to kill a bird destined for the burial pit.

“No, we’re going to drop them in the pit just like they are,” the worker responds. “You dump them in there and then Mother Nature takes care of the rest. You go in there in the summertime, and it smells real nice over there. If you look down in there, it’s like a gravy that’s simmering and squirming.”

In an interview, the undercover activist, who did not want to be identified, said, “I saw cruel practices every day I was on the farm from the first day to the final day. I'd say everything that you see in the footage is standard there.”

It’s that kind of footage that North Carolina state Sen. Brent Jackson has proposed outlawing. Animal activists say it’s an effort to lock the barn door and keep the public in the dark.

On the floor of the state Senate, we wanted to ask Jackson about his proposal. It was a short conversation.

“I don’t have anything to say to CNN,” the Republican state lawmaker responded.

The North Carolina Poultry Federation and the North Carolina Chamber also declined to talk about Jackson’s proposal.

On the farm where the chickens were buried alive, owner Tim Prince said he was surprised to learn that his former intern was actually an undercover animal rights activist.

“She's taken six weeks of work and narrowed it down to a few bad things I’ve done. And I’ve done it. It's obvious,” Prince told CNN. “She took just a very minute little things that we’ve done wrong.”

Pressed on that point, Prince admitted that people might think burying chickens alive is more than a small transgression and that the birds should have been killed more humanely. But, he says, he does care for his birds. After all, they are his livelihood.

“I try to run a clean business. And there was a few things on there I saw that shouldn’t happen,” he said, adding that he worried how the video would affect his business.

'His choice in terms of how to operate his facility'

The head of the group that produced the video has little sympathy for the chicken farmer.

“What we documented is how he is operating his facility, and it’s unfortunate that what we documented is so egregious that we hope that state authorities will get involved and prosecute this case for burying birds alive,” said Compassion Over Killing executive director Erica Meier. “That was his choice in terms of how to operate his facility.”

The group said it has filed a complaint with local law enforcement authorities. A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Justice confirmed that the State Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation into alleged animal cruelty at Prince Poultry.

Prince grows about a million chickens a year exclusively for Pilgrim's Pride - the second largest chicken producer in the world that sells chicken to major supermarkets and fast-food restaurants.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have retrained the grower in question and his employees,” Pilgrim's said in a statement to CNN. “Pilgrim's prioritizes the welfare of our chickens, whether under our direct care or under the care of our contract growers. The proper treatment of animals is one of our core beliefs."

Perhaps one of the most shocking things about factory farms is that there’s almost no one watching them. There is little federal oversight so undercover activists are often the only way abuses are uncovered.

An undercover video shot by a PETA employee shows what the group says are lame and sick pigs left to languish in a so-called junk pen, without veterinary care. At the Wisconsin farm owned by Babcock Genetics, the pigs were so sick their intestines hung out their bodies while others were unable to walk, PETA said. The animal rights group filed a complaint with the local district attorney, who confirmed his office is reviewing it.

In the complaint, PETA included the opinion of experts in veterinarian medicine and pig production.

“They were unanimous in saying that these animals suffered unnecessary and excessive pain,” said PETA’s Dan Paden, adding the animals either needed immediate veterinarian care or to be put down.

If the pigs survived, they would be sold for meat to a slaughterhouse where they would then be inspected, he said.

Could consumers' health be at risk?

Some experts say it might not be safe to eat. Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said the meat could carry a deadly infection.

“When you look at this kind of footage, what you are really seeing is a cauldron that is just producing bacteria that get into the food that ultimately makes its way into your home,” said Barnard, whose organization advocates a plant-based diet.

“As a doctor,” he said, “I would advise any parent who has ever had a sick kid to realize that these illnesses come from somewhere. Very often they come from the fact that animals are abused and are sick on farms, and we didn’t realize that we were bringing that disease into our homes, threatening our own family.”

Babcock’s company veterinarian, Darwin Kohler, said PETA’s allegations were untrue, even before he saw the video.

“Any allegations are false, because I know what goes on in the barn,” he said.

Eventually, Kohler watched the video, twice, and said it was taken out of context.

"We are committed to caring for animals in a way that protects their well-being. ... A third-party audit of the farm in question is being conducted,” the company said in a statement to CNN. “Based on the audit's findings, we will make appropriate corrective actions if needed."

In both cases, it was the undercover activists' video that brought alleged mistreatment to light. But if supporters of ag-gag laws are successful, these kind of exposés would essentially be outlawed and the abuses they uncover kept behind closed doors.

This story was reported in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Minnesota. CNN’s Glen Dacy contributed.

Blog: Erin Burnett Out Front
Opinion: Exposing animal cruelty is not a crime
Do consumers really want to see where their food comes from?
'Ag gag' laws suppress animal cruelty whistleblowers
Blocking 'ag gag' laws may prolong abuse
What the 'ag gag' bills mean to my farm
Farming in a fishbowl

soundoff (635 Responses)
  1. TLORop

    I think I might have just become a vegetarian.

    June 26, 2014 at 11:24 am |
  2. Amy

    It is shameful that the government wants to keep this kind of abuse under wraps. I am not extreme like PETA or other similar groups but I do think our food should be raised and killed humanely.

    June 26, 2014 at 11:24 am |
  3. vatoloke

    What's next? Outlaw patient abuse videos in hospitals and nursing homes? Will people not be able to set up hidden cameras at home to keep babysitters and housesitters honest? This is over-kill.

    June 26, 2014 at 11:20 am |
    • sameeker

      If I try to hide a crime, I go to jail. If they do it, they just pass laws to help them continue.

      June 27, 2014 at 12:13 am |
  4. Loren

    Thanks for this report. I'm so disappointed to learn about more cases of animal cruelty on our farms. I hope that your story helps spur action within our federal and state governments to stop this kind of abuse.

    It seems outrageous to me that legislation is being put forward that would restrict the type of undercover video footage shown here. We need to know what's happening on our farms, especially since there is such a long history of extreme animal cruelty, pollution, and abuse of workers. Cheers to everyone helping improve our food system. Let's get the job done.

    June 26, 2014 at 11:19 am |
  5. Emily

    Thank you, CNN, for bringing attention to this horrible situation in America. Regardless of whether one eats animals or not, I would hope that we can all agree that the current way of factory farming is unacceptable on every level. I applaud the courage of each of these undercover activists for sharing the truth of what is going on behind closed doors. As citizens, I believe it is our right to know exactly what took part in our food's journey to our tables so we know exactly what we are putting into our bodies. I sincerely hope that our government does not continue to protect the barbaric treatment of these animals, and starts protecting the health and wellbeing of not only the animals, but its citizens, as well.

    June 26, 2014 at 11:11 am |
  6. Bill

    Everybody who has any type of animal, who cares about their well being should read this story! Walmart have camera's watching employees / customers, Sears, Food stores, hell, even dollar stores so what is so wrong with having camera's set up in meat factories?? If the farmers are doing nothing wrong it shouldn't be a problem! Just imagine what our "Food" animals are going through....sick.... think it's time I get use to veggies! Everybody needs to stand together on this!!!!

    June 26, 2014 at 11:05 am |
    • jkflipflop

      They're lower life forms that can barely comprehend the world in anything better than a 512×512 logic table. Take your tears elsewhere and I'll go make a ham sandwich.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:12 am |
      • Amy

        Actually pigs are highly intelligent. You are showing your ignorance. We do not treat people in a vegetative state like we treat food. By your logic we should be killing off those people (fyi – I am not stating I am for or against life support)

        June 26, 2014 at 11:26 am |
      • ljgathena

        For me it more to do with the actual health of the animal that I am consuming. If the animal is unhealthy they need to be put down, not introduced to the food chain. You are what you eat.

        June 26, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
        • taraoreilly12

          Recently I learned out how the Dead, Dying, Diseased, and Disabled animals that were just recently banned for human consumption—are still allowed to be used in our pet foods. It's fairly regular practice, and includes cancerous tissue.

          I personally love my pets—they're my family, and I think they deserve access to the best foods possible just as we all do. If I chose to take on the responsibility of taking care of an animal—then their health is my responsibility.

          All of these practices, businesses, corporations, and politics are connected. It's up to each individual to wake up and be a conscious consumer. For me, I was/am horrified by what we do to other beings for the sake of the man-made concept of paper dollar bills. I now know that there is no such thing as a humane slaughter system and so I'm out. I'm vegan and proud not support these businesses. I'm not an extremist, or an arrogant b&^5h—I just have a heart and a conscience.

          July 2, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • taraoreilly12

          Recently I learned out how the Dead, Dying, Diseased, and Disabled animals that were just recently banned for human consumption—are still allowed to be used in our pet foods. It's fairly regular practice, and includes cancerous tissue.

          I personally love my pets—they're my family, and I think they deserve access to the best foods possible just as we all do. If I chose to take on the responsibility of taking care of an animal—then their health is my responsibility.

          All of these practices, businesses, corporations, and politics are connected. It's up to each individual to wake up and be a conscious consumer. For me, I was/am horrified by what we do to other beings for the sake of the man-made concept of paper dollar bills. I now know that there is no such thing as a humane slaughter system and so I'm out. I'm vegan and proud not support these businesses. I'm not an extremist, or an arrogant b&^5h—I just have a heart and a conscience.

          July 2, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • taraoreilly12

          Recently I learned out how the Dead, Dying, Diseased, and Disabled animals that were just recently banned for human consumption—are still allowed to be used in our pet foods. It's fairly regular practice, and includes cancerous tissue.

          I personally love my pets—they're my family, and I think they deserve access to the best foods possible just as we all do. If I chose to take on the responsibility of taking care of an animal—then their health is my responsibility.

          All of these practices, businesses, corporations, and politics are connected. It's up to each individual to wake up and be a conscious consumer. For me, I was/am horrified by what we do to other beings for the sake of the man-made concept of paper dollar bills. I now know that there is no such thing as a humane slaughter system and so I'm out. I'm vegan and proud not support these businesses. I'm not an extremist, or an arrogant b&^5h—I just have a heart and a conscience.

          July 2, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • taraoreilly12

          @ljgathena Sorry, my post wasn't directed at you. It was suppose to be a general recent post. Seems to be glitchy things happening on this site.

          July 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • Diane

      I agree with you Bill... *Its not ok to not follow standards.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • sameeker

      Good point.

      June 27, 2014 at 12:14 am |
  7. Karlin

    It's large volume mechanics. That's in part what it takes to feed an America who expects the lowest cost for their consumer goods.

    People can get upset...but far more get upset when the cost of things goes up.

    It's why they want Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (cafo's) kept out of the public eye as well...

    June 26, 2014 at 10:55 am |
    • Amy

      I pay more for my food because of the treatment and care of animals by businesses only interested in profit, not the consumer.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:27 am |
    • Sidewinder

      Part of the reason Americans are so price conscious is that the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. It's hard to imagine how much meat a minimum wage earner can even afford since inflation naturally raises the prices of food, especially meats, over time. Another element adding to the high cost of meats especially, is the ethanol subsidy. So much corn that should be going to feed us directly, and meat animals indirectly is being siphoned off for ethanol, even though it has been shown that corn is about the most costly source for ethanol.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:28 am |
  8. KHinVail

    Lawmakers are protecting corporate profits over the safety of the food supply which not only affects their constituant's but all Americans health. This is reason I became a vegetarian. You can't trust the food suppliers and you certainly can't trust lawmakers to look after your health and safety.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:54 am |
  9. Mike

    These ag-gag laws would probably not survive first amendment scrutiny. The fact they are designed to muzzle public exposure of controversial practices would make federal courts particularly likely to apply strict scrutiny under first amendment and strike the laws down. Someone just needs to fight back in one of these cases. If anyone reading this is in a position to do that, I suggest they seek advice from folks at Volkh Conspiracy (UCLA based free speech collective blog, with lots of smart libertarian law profs on board who could offer good advice). Also ACLU might even help here too.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:50 am |
    • Tom Praska

      Thanks Mike,
      After reading this, I wanted to comment, but yours says it better than I could. These laws are clearly unconstitutional. Interestingly, they are passed by the party that always screams about their love of the constitution.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:15 am |
    • D.I.

      Explain then, how laws like these have been allowed to exist. In places like NY where they have even banned guns, sent people to prison, even though the supreme court has already ruled the laws to be in violation of the the 2nd amendment, yet the laws are allowed to continue to exist and enforced. Because the people allow it. It is like we don't want to know or acknowledge the problem is even a problem.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:22 am |
      • Sidewinder

        I would also think that the "ag-gag" type laws would violate the whistle blower laws that are already on the books. Any politician that votes to ban investigative reporting like this should be banned from political office for life. And lobbying as well, since they would have proven that they do not value the heath of those they were elected to represent.

        June 26, 2014 at 11:33 am |
  10. RichardHead

    Mr. Will Potter ( a journalist that continues to expose animal abuse ) has an terrific idea--The use of Drones over these "Factory Farms ",which will probably end up in the Supreme Court as to legality. If it's good enough for the Federal Government,It should be good enough for the American People.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:48 am |
    • Seong Pak

      You look at things very differently than I do. I see it the other way. If it's good enough for the American People, It should be good enough for the Federal Government.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:04 am |
  11. RC

    Far from being banned, video taping should be required during all phases of operation. Only then will an industry rife with corruption be brought in line with acceptable humane/safety standards. How can such blatant abuses be allowed to continue?
    I know, I know. Follow the money........

    June 26, 2014 at 10:42 am |
    • Sidewinder

      Well said.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:34 am |
    • AleeD® @ RC

      This controversy, coupled with red light cameras, appears to be most offensive to those who are ashamed of being caught. Interesting ...

      June 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
  12. Lila

    Why would anyone support zero transparency in the food industry and allow animals to be abused? You know the majority of Americans are against that. What these organizations need to do is put together the names of the politicians and companies so there is a push to get rid of them. Support politicians and businesses who don't have anything to hide.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:37 am |
  13. Russ Germain

    why does this crap always happen in the USA?

    June 26, 2014 at 10:36 am |
    • fascinatedspectator

      On the contrary, it is usually concerned people in the USA who first expose these kinds of issues, then initiate changes in industry practices that are often MUCH, MUCH worse in other countries!
      In other words, the reason you always seem to see these stories from the USA is because people in the USA are FAR more vigilant about policing these problems than most other countries! These improvements in production practices are usually adopted in other western countries much later with little or no media coverage.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:07 am |
      • Sidewinder

        I think the EU is way ahead of the US when it comes to food safety and banning toxic chemicals. Look at the GMO controversy. Numerous clinical studies showing that Monsanto's proposal to mix their GMO corn in conjunction with Roundup herbicide have shown a marked increase in tumors, organ failure, and increased mortality. The EU has banned this while here in the US, Monsanto has pumped huge money into denying these findings. Monsanto and companies like them would kill us all for a buck now, rather than play straight for 2 bucks later.

        June 26, 2014 at 11:41 am |
    • jkflipflop

      Yeah, I'm sure those Korean puppy mills are the pinnacle of humane treatments. Give me a break.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:14 am |
  14. Stacy Pascal

    Having to disclose video showing abuse within 48 hours just makes certain that the Livestock Processor will go unpunished. S/he will say: Oh my! That Never happened before. It is very unusual and not common practice. These undercover operatives need to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the abuse is in fact repetitive and standard daily practice across all employees over weeks or months. As you are well aware!

    June 26, 2014 at 10:30 am |
  15. Ryan

    Your "right to privacy" ends when you break the law, this law happens to be a moral one as well as animal abuse is despicable. There's a humane way to do things and then there's this. The owner is just cutting corners to reduce the cost of running his operation and is greasing the palms of the slimy Republican senator here to cover it up.

    Business's who operate under these conditions need to be dragged into the light and punished, not covered up and hidden. Some business's need to be made an example of.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:30 am |
  16. Christiabella

    Even people who don't care about the animals' suffering should care about their own food preparation. Everyone should be outraged by these laws.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:18 am |
    • Sapphire

      Surgically remove the word "should" from your vocabulary. It's offensive to people who want to live their lives THEIR way.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:28 am |
      • Christiabella

        Yeah, well, when THEIR way of life adversely impacts mine, I'm not going to be silent. Deal with it.

        June 26, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • Sapphire

          Try that reading comp class again. Works wonders.

          June 27, 2014 at 7:14 am |
      • hmm

        You're pretty think-skinned and confrontational. Perhaps you would rather not know if the food you are feeding yourself and your family has diseases in it, but many people would like to be informed about that kind of thing.

        June 26, 2014 at 10:47 am |
      • Seong Pak

        Tell them to leave their society.
        I bet they still want their smart phnes and TV..... all the goodies coming from society.

        June 26, 2014 at 11:09 am |
        • No Slack

          You mean all those "goodies" that are crammed down our throats! The US population allows themselves to be manipulated by the corporations and the media!

          June 26, 2014 at 11:19 am |
      • Sidewinder

        Since when is it offensive to be given information to make your decisions with? Are you really that foolish, or are you just some sort of corporate drone ready to swallow anything placed in front of you?

        June 26, 2014 at 11:45 am |
        • Sapphire

          "Since when is it offensive to be given information to make your decisions with? " Never. The offense is being told what I should or shouldn't feel, think or do with said info. I'll make my own decisions thank you.

          June 27, 2014 at 7:17 am |
      • Grammar Patrol

        The use word "should" implies the speaker knows more about the subject than the person to whom they a're speaking. Seems as though Sapphire was being transparently pedantic.

        June 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
    • cardog

      I am outraged by your outrage. What about the right to privacy for these private corporations? Much more relevant than the non-issue of so called animal cruelty.

      June 26, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
  17. GOP FAIL

    2 words: Upton Sinclair

    You can thank him for food safety standards. Now the GOP wants to kill off the weak and old by disallowing whistleblowing.

    You old people that vote GOP, you deserve what you get.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:14 am |
    • Mike

      Where do you get the idea this is GOP? In farm states, Dems are usually equally influenced by ag lobbies.

      Another issue: these ag-gag laws would probably not survive first amendment scrutiny. The fact they are designed to muzzle public exposure of controversial practices would make the first amendment issues apply with particular vigor. Someone just needs to litigate one of these cases. If someone wants to do that, I suggest they seek advice from Volkh Conspiracy (UCLA based free speech collective blog, with lots of law profs on board who could offer good advice).

      June 26, 2014 at 10:47 am |
      • Sidewinder

        I think they are going to attack this by a combination of claiming the investigators are trespassing and/or trade secrets are being exposed. Much like the new laws ALEC is sponsoring to keep the list of chems used in fracking a secret. Makes it harder to sue when your well water is contaminated with chem A if you can't show that the fracking outfit next door is using chem A.

        June 26, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • Ally

          That and the fact that some of the more rabid activists are planting people who do abuse or just misrepresent situations to influence laypeople the wrong way.

          I'm not saying abuse doesn't happen. But it's tough to prove which videos are true and which aren't.

          June 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  18. JaTo

    Senator Brent Jackson – Occupation: Farmer/Agribusiness. From his own Bio on the NCGA website. So this law he is sponsoring isn't about right/wrong its about keeping money in his own pockets and selling out to his pals at the NCPF and the Chamber of Commerce. Lobbying is big business and with the right puppets can make a few VERY rich.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:12 am |
  19. savitra

    when we try to outlaw government surveillance of the population, they tell us "we're going to watch you, but if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear." why don't we just tell these companies the same thing?

    June 26, 2014 at 10:11 am |
    • John

      Ha! Loved your response, and very true. Our government has the do as I say not as I do approach.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:24 am |
    • No Slack

      You get a big AMEN for that one!!!

      June 26, 2014 at 11:20 am |
  20. Cin

    As a consumer we have the right to know where our food comes from and is our responsibility to purchase humanly. Government should not make transparency illegal.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:08 am |
  21. Edward Hutton

    As I read this, I am enjoying my Big Mac and coffee for breakfast, Just thought y'all would want to know.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:02 am |
    • Dick Gazinya

      Enjoy your cancer too dickweed, I know I will.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:13 am |
    • john

      Well, At least we know you are 2 I.Q points below the pig they showed a picture of in this article. Thanks for sharing Eddie.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:31 am |
    • senorcornez

      Everybody look! The class clown is over here!

      June 26, 2014 at 10:33 am |
    • Edward J. Ramses

      Your big Mac is probably only 5% meat anyway so it doesn't matter

      June 26, 2014 at 10:38 am |
    • No Slack

      Who Cares?

      June 26, 2014 at 11:11 am |
  22. shinyhalo

    Democrat and Republican politicians are all corrupt. self-serving tyrants bribed by corporations. That's what happens in a Representative form of government. It's time to switch to a TRUE democracy where the people vote directly on laws and policies.

    June 26, 2014 at 10:00 am |
    • Thinker...

      Yeah no. Direct democracy doesn't work outside of small groups. For something the size of the US it would be a disaster. It would be civil war within a decade.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:30 am |
    • Seong Pak

      People will have to visit voting station everyday.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:14 am |
  23. terryrayc

    The problem isn't the film that's shown it's how it's gotten. The problem is these group lie in order to get onto private property and film whatever they want without getting the other side of the story. So what is next, people sneaking into your home to film what you are doing in the hopes to catch you doing something they do not like. Before anyone argues, yes it is the same thing. Protecting animals is fine, we need better laws for it, but people should be able to invade someone's privacy.

    Here's a good example. ABC News and Food Lion. They lied to get in and then made up a ton of stories that broke that company. Turns out the made up almost the entire thing. That's a good reason why you need more protections against these types of events.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:56 am |
    • mvrunner

      Everything you said is false. In the Food Lion matter, ABC was guilty of trespass & filming without authorization. The story that they filed, however, was never disputed. Everything that they uncovered was for the public good. I think everyone, even ABC at this point, agrees that the means they used to gather the information was illegal. That doesn't mean they didn't expose things that should have been exposed. And Food Lion wasn't driven out of business – it's still alive and well in the South, although I would never shop there.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:07 am |
      • terryrayc

        Um, no if you look into it the only reason they were no sued for lying was because ABC fought tooth and nail to keep the recordings and documents hidden until after the SOL ended. After people were finally able to review all of the facts it was proven that not only did ABC lie but that made things up and most of the people shown doing the bad things were the ABC producers. There was been a ton of extensive reviews of this case and the truth is ABC was suckered into the story by a UNION that was ticked off they were blocked from entering Food Lion and the ABC producers were caught on film several times complaining that they were never able to prove anything. Do a little more research.

        June 26, 2014 at 11:35 am |
    • steve

      I am sorry but video and word of mouth are to different things. Video does not lie but the interpritation of said video can be misconstrued. Written word is called slander and can be handled in court, pig guts hanging outside a live pig or a person other than the person video taping beating an animal is called abuse. Granted it is food or my couch or a baseball or a football but the do not need to suffer before slaughter.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:15 am |
    • adam4x4

      There are all kinds of laws that make it OK to lie to investigate a crime. Cops do it all the time. As far as lying about what the food producers are doing, THAT is ILLEGAL.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:16 am |
    • hmm

      You are not smart. You doing something someone doesn't like in your own home is one thing....you packaging up a diseased animal and selling it to those in our community...is another story.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:50 am |
      • terryrayc

        It was calling giving an example....man speaking of not smart. My point is simple, if you are going to draw a line and say someone cannot come into your home and secretly record you because for starters you are on private property and 2nd you need permission from someone to film them....you have to apply those rules to everyone or you cannot apply them at all.

        We need better oversight of these farms, however what we do not need are people breaking the law just to make money off a story....and yes that is what a lot of these groups do....these stories keep donations rolling in.

        But like I said if you do not like the idea of someone recording your daily live in secret in your home then you must afford those same rights to a business owner.

        June 26, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
    • Seong Pak

      Lie to get in and make up story isn't even 1% close to this. This was lie to get in and take video and expose.
      There was no make up story part.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:17 am |
      • terryrayc

        The point is you have to hold the same standards for everything. You cannot treat one person one way for doing something and treat someone a different way for doing the same thing. Again I'm not disputing that these food producer need more and better oversight. However we have to be careful about when we allow anyone with an agenda to skirt the law just to get a story.

        June 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
  24. Sabine

    That is just horrific and truly insidious!!
    We have to respect our animals!! They a purpose on earth, and a right to live !!
    We as human haves choices , why not animals treated with resoect!!
    Stop this cruel barbaric !!!
    Mother Nature , animals perish – well we all perish !! Science going to save us!!

    June 26, 2014 at 9:55 am |
  25. GreyMan

    If we haven't learned anything over the last 20-25 years, the internet will always be a platform for things like this even if they are illegal in the eyes of the law. Just look at child pornography. It's illegal yet it still thrives on the internet.

    Keep up the good work activists.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:48 am |
  26. Vegann

    Consuming meat in any form is barbaric. Anyone dong so should be in prison. Period.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:44 am |
    • t2vodka

      We are omnivores, get over it.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:07 am |
    • Cin

      Besides not consuming meat, we can make an impact by not investing on meat or other cruel companies. (stocks, bonds and other items in our retirement funds, etc).

      June 26, 2014 at 10:11 am |
    • Reality Blowz

      Visit a Vegan's hunting ground in the winter, a farm field, a frozen barren moonscape. Right next to that a hunters land, full of trees, birds, mice, rabbit, fox, bear, deer.etc. and tell me who is more barbaric. Vegans have no sense of the circle of life. Your farmers pollute and rape the land and kill everything, even the fish and amphibians with pesticides. Your hired killer (the farmer) does your bidding for you.

      You Vegans are merciless killers of everything.

      June 26, 2014 at 10:46 am |
    • Bill

      And you should stop eating period and die because you are killing innocent plants..

      June 26, 2014 at 10:49 am |
    • cardog

      Remember this rant when you have loss of bone density, hair and teeth from lack of protein. Humans cannot survive on a non-animal diet.

      June 26, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
  27. wolfgang planz

    thank you so much for making us aware of this issue !

    June 26, 2014 at 9:42 am |
  28. AleeD®

    If it weren't for the heading at the top of the page, you'd never know this was a FOOD BLOG.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:40 am |
    • RC @ AleeD®

      Agreed. politicize, politicize, politicize.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:09 am |
  29. aaron

    No doubt the anti-cruelty investigation laws will pass. We have a government that doesn't care about the suffering of its own citizens, much less animals. Come election time, the politicians will feign some concern over people, come the day after, it's back to business as usual with their self-enrichment.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:39 am |
    • Drano

      Sad but true.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:59 am |
    • fascinatedspectator

      You do realize that this article is about the North Carolina STATE government and NOT the Federal government, right?
      I ask, because your post sounds like you don't comprehend the difference!
      It is a very BIG difference! DUH!

      June 26, 2014 at 11:20 am |
  30. GreyMan

    I'll bet the same people against this are the ones that are in love with Traitor Snowden.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:34 am |
    • Greg

      Yeah, because the two are somehow related.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:36 am |
      • GreyMan

        No, it just exposed them as hypocrites.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:49 am |
        • meefo

          You're a precious little try-hard aren't you?

          June 26, 2014 at 9:59 am |
        • EMcK

          First – I'm no supporter of Snowden. Second – what does one have to do with the other and how would supporting Snowden but being against a law that prohibits people from investigating the food you eat equate to hypocrisy? They have no correlation whatsoever.

          June 26, 2014 at 10:11 am |
        • fascinatedspectator

          I really don't see how you arrived at that completely illogical conclusion, but the very fact that it makes some kind of "sense" to YOU is quite revealing!

          June 26, 2014 at 11:23 am |
  31. GreyMan

    Let them pass laws. They will be appealed and overturned eventually. Keep up the good work and keep the cameras rolling.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:33 am |
    • Jeanneboo

      The ag-gag laws are inhumane to humans.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:56 am |
  32. Hugh Jorgen

    I think it's interesting that the farmers and their supporters who want to make it illegal for anyone to covertly film/record animal treatment practices, put forth the argument that it unfairly portrays the farms and their ethical standard and unfairly implies that food safety is being jeopardized. While these kinds of sentiments speak to their speculations as to how the public will react in their thinking, I think they are misreading what viewers of these leaked videos actually will think.

    What I believe (IMHO) is that your average public viewer (with a conscience) may decide that, after witnessing these videos/images/recordings, on the grounds of pure decency and with a sense or moral repugnance, they may choose to boycott meat from a particular producer and that even in the face of documentation showing that 99.99999% of the time this doesn't happen with a given producer/supplier, knowing and witnessing that it happened just the "one time" is enough for many people to draw a line in sand. It's about making a personal stand which some people will follow through on. If readers think mistreatment of one animal is not enough of a spark, it does then beg the question, "How many instance of animal torture does it take before deciding it's worth taking some kind of (personal) action? Two, two hundred, twenty thousand?". Are some things in life absolutes for which there can be no tolerance, if we want to consider ourselves to be a humane society?

    June 26, 2014 at 9:31 am |
  33. RAY lund

    money!! that is why these people get away with this. any political person who endorses to take our rights to know what is going on should be put in prison but as long they line their pockets and it is allowed this will continue and more of America will be destroyed by these corrupt people. they hate America they just want money money money

    June 26, 2014 at 9:23 am |
  34. Meyer C. Dhoates

    More proof the GOP cares more about business and the wealthy than they do for everday Americans by trying to outlaw undercover videos of animal abuse. When will the masses wake up and end the Republican Taliban's efforts to enforce their version of Sharia law?

    June 26, 2014 at 9:19 am |
    • StingIsTheTruth

      It is everyday Americans who are doing things like running chicken farms... Not multimillionaire hollywood actors who became vegan to be in with the popular fad (and lie about it). Seems like you care more about destroying jobs and making food more expensive for the poor.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:26 am |
      • GreyMan

        You haven't seen the chicken farms in Ohio then. They aren't your small mom-and-pop operations.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:35 am |
      • GreyMan

        I also care more about the food that gets put on my table than people's jobs.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:35 am |
      • ljgathena

        I care about the well being of my own health and that of my family over jobs any day.

        We're not asking them to leave the industry, we're telling them to clean up their act. If they cleaned up things, they may put more people to work – did you think about that?

        June 26, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
    • StingIsTheTruth

      "When will the masses wake up and end the Republican Taliban's efforts to enforce their version of Sharia law?" You know it is stupid hyperbole like this that hurts your agenda, don't you? Grow up.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:27 am |
      • GreyMan

        That's how radical the GOP is. If we were another country the US would have attacked us by now.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:36 am |
      • GreyMan

        That's how radical the GOP is. If this were another country the US would have attacked us by now.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:37 am |
        • mfh

          So whose the hater here? Your hatred of those that don't agree with you is what is wrong with this country. You have less compassion for people then you do for animals.

          June 26, 2014 at 9:45 am |
    • yeah

      Are you really just figuring this out now?

      Get people to vote in November!

      June 26, 2014 at 10:30 am |
  35. radar8

    I anyone ever needed proof that our politicians are bought and paid for, all you have to do is look at the possible reasons for "ag-gag" laws. It's money, pure and simple.

    ANy congressman or senator that passes those bills should be forced to eat meat from those same farms.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:18 am |
    • Peter

      "Any congressman or senator that passes those bills should be forced to eat meat from those same farms."

      They should be forced to work on those farms.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:38 am |
    • groginohio

      Superb idea!!

      June 26, 2014 at 10:24 am |
  36. diadkinson

    Best reason ever to become a vegetarian – then you won't be supporting these abuses with your purchases!

    June 26, 2014 at 9:09 am |
    • StingIsTheTruth

      Yeah then you can support the wholesale slaughter of animals by the thousand every time the fields are plowed, planted, harvested, and pests are killed... Welcome to reality. Quit being a sucker believing these staged abuse videos.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:19 am |
      • noone

        Yes, lots of thing are inadvertently killed when fields are plowed and harvested. But, the point is, that is not the intent. The intent is to plow and harvest. As opposed to meat farming where the intent is to kill.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:54 am |
      • fascinatedspectator

        Since the videos were "secretly" taped while posing as a normal student or worker, how could they POSSIBLY be "staged" ??????? NO ONE at the facility knew these things were being video recorded while the workers performed their USUAL, NORMAL tasks!
        I get it, they "staged" these "fake" abuse videos by ACCURATELY RECORDING REALITY AS IT OCURRED!!! How underhanded and sneaky of them! WOW!

        June 26, 2014 at 11:33 am |
        • Ally

          SOME videos were later proved to be staged in part. Some of the more rabid activists actually planted other worker in the facility who deliberately abused animals so they could film it. The example of the pig with intestines hanging out could look like abuse the way it was filmed, but isn't. Because pigs can sometimes push too hard and that happens. Isolating the pigs is actually the correct thing to do when this happens while waiting for a vet to help the animal.

          June 26, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
  37. Dana

    This is exactly the kind of activity that the first amendment was written for. Let the Republicans show their true colors, and keep truth free.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:06 am |
    • StingIsTheTruth

      What truth? These videos have been found to be staged time and again.. And the abuse is illegal already...

      June 26, 2014 at 9:20 am |
      • EMcK

        Please show the alleged proof that any of the videos were staged. Note: A statement from the person caught abusing animals doesn't constitute proof.

        June 26, 2014 at 10:12 am |
      • lloyd

        "staged?" says who, other than the industry?

        June 26, 2014 at 10:35 am |
  38. EVN

    Can any of the politicians that are writing these "Ag-gag" laws sit down in front of a camera and explain why? Can we have them hooked up to polygraph machines when the question of who paid you to initiate the legislation is asked? Can we then indict and convict both the politician and the briber for corrupt public service?

    What a bunch of filthy putrid disgusting morons those politicians have become. Those doing the bribing and their lawyers and lobbyists – well that's just par for the course and business as usual.

    June 26, 2014 at 9:05 am |
  39. Ken in CT

    It’s that kind of footage that North Carolina state Sen. Brent Jackson has proposed outlawing. Animal activists say it’s an effort to lock the barn door and keep the public in the dark
    It just goes to show that the Republicans are no different than the Democrats – just 2 sides of a counterfeit coin!

    June 26, 2014 at 9:00 am |
  40. jonathanlk

    SHouldn't we be able to inspect, pop in, video how our food is being produced? I am all for cameras everywhere. Record eveything you can, sound and sight when it is or impacts the public like fodd or automobile production. The public is getting increasingly cheated out of having any rights whatsoever. The governement caters to the companies. The companies whine and cry the loudest becasue they have deep pockets to pay for lobbyists. No one represents J.Q.Public. Samoella E. Coli, here we come!

    June 26, 2014 at 8:59 am |
  41. Bill Moore

    The issue is protection of free speech. There are very good reasons for this protection. I can not think of a more appropriate example for the reasons for this, than the example above. Our great country, has the power to set standards for what is consumed in this country. A problem exists when companies outsource, and then non outsourcing companies in the US must compete. We shouldn't put our fate in the hands of those not accountable to ourselves.

    June 26, 2014 at 8:46 am |
  42. RMG

    Sen. Brent Jackson along with any other politician that supports this ban on these videos should be removed from office, this an abuse of animals, and they are abusing the public by taking money from these violators to support these bans,

    the public should be made aware of such actions, do not let these people these corporations get away this, or to let it be covered up, if this they do get this ban that is just what our government is letting them do, stop all cover ups

    and get these politicians OUT of OFFICE that take money to help cover up this trash

    June 26, 2014 at 8:34 am |
  43. nikstar01

    These videos should ABSOLUTELY NOT be outlawed! Why would a farm owner be worried about someone videoing, unless he / she has something to hide? These animals do NOT deserve to be tortured, abused or neglected. They should be handled with more compassion since they are being raised as food.
    Farmers still have that mentality of the good ole boy system. Pay people off to keep the public from knowing how they treat the animals. I don't care if they are livestock, they have souls and they feel pain. Pigs are just as smart (if not smarter) than dogs – research has shown this over and over...

    June 26, 2014 at 8:31 am |
    • StingIsTheTruth

      You are right They shouldn't be outlawed. The "animal rights activists" should be prosecuted for staging these videos, as they have been shown to do time and again, and wire fraud for covert recording.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:21 am |
      • G

        Your insinuation of staging these events is about as ridiculous as your weak attempts at defending the abuse, and more importantly food safety issues. Your accusations would require the farmers to be part of the staging, unless you are saying the farmers let the interns and newbies run everything. I am not a member of PETA, and you shouldn’t have to be to be concerned with food safety.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:45 am |
        • JellyBean

          Hear, hear! Spot on G.

          June 26, 2014 at 9:51 am |
      • fascinatedspectator

        Considering the GLARING FACT that NONE of the videos in question in the North Carolina controversy have been proven to be inaccurate in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, you are very full of fresh steaming manure!

        June 26, 2014 at 11:37 am |
  44. Daremonai

    So the police are in their pockets, and independent investigation is getting outlawed. I can not think of a more blatant example of an industry dodging any responsibility or consequence.

    June 26, 2014 at 8:28 am |
  45. ron lambert

    Its official... Ivo Shandor was right – " society is too sick to survive " –

    these abuses are repulsive and sickening.

    June 26, 2014 at 8:26 am |
  46. DaugezillaGorilla

    Any law that masks the truth for the financial benefit of a small group is unjust.

    June 26, 2014 at 8:23 am |
    • Reality Blowz

      Just like the Climate Change myth. A few will become wealthy at the expense of the many. Meanwhile reputable scientists that show proof that Climate Change is not true get crushed and ridiculed.

      June 26, 2014 at 9:03 am |
      • Dee Wan

        I suggest you put on your reading glasses and read the scholarly articles concerning climate change. Look at the charts compiled by and reviewed by scientists who are not in the pocket of some corporation that has a profit axe to grind.

        Those who deny climate change are not blind and stupid, they are smart and greedy – at the expense of tomorrow.

        June 26, 2014 at 9:29 am |
        • Reality Blowz

          I suggest that you open your eyes. When scientists are invited to a Climate Change symposium, and are physically restrained from entering when it is found out that they are about to provide proof that it is a myth, you should immediately realize that it is a hoax designed to take control over your life.

          When regulations are driving jobs out of the U.S. to China, which has no pollution controls, and increasing world pollution by leaps and bounds, you should realize the truth.

          You can keep on fooling a fool, when that fool won't admit that he was fooled.

          June 26, 2014 at 10:55 am |
  47. Joe biden

    How about banning the immoral activity, not the action that discloses it? Truth should always be known at all costs.

    June 26, 2014 at 8:22 am |
  48. Carol

    Thank you CNN. Cruel and abusive treatment of farm animals is long overdue to be exposed. Animal abuse is often the beginning of other criminal acts against children, women, and society in general. Exposing this abhorrent and unnecessary behavior is the first step to stopping it. PLEASE keep us informed as to the Ag-Gag bill.

    June 26, 2014 at 7:45 am |
    • Guylaine Labonté

      Merci de dénoncer ces atrocités,merci de faire voir la vérité

      June 26, 2014 at 8:27 am |
    • Deb

      Carol, while I agree with you 100% about animal abuse often progressing to domestic violence, animal abuse alone, regardless of whether it progresses to other violence or not, should NEVER be tolerated.

      June 26, 2014 at 8:58 am |
  49. kerry williams

    They MUST NOT enact such a disgusting law....as always...the truth will be covered up to keep the public quiet & spend their $$$ on the abject misery,terror & death of the beautiful animal kingdom.We must fight this too!!

    June 26, 2014 at 4:16 am |
  50. PoLa

    And people eat meat and wonder why they got sick. Show the animals some respect by not contributing to their suffering, and show yourself some respect by having the decency to see what's going on behind the choices you make and the consequences they have on others.

    June 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
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