Groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States traditionally rely on undercover investigations to expose abuse of animals on farms. Now, laws pending in Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota could stop such groups from ‘blowing the whistle.’ We examine the food-and speech-issues surrounding the pending laws.

Guests

  • Kevin Vinchattle CEO of Iowa Poultry Association & Iowa Egg Council
  • Mark Bittman Food and Food Issues Columnist, New York Times
  • Paul Shapiro Director, Farm Animal Protection Campaign, Humane Society of the United States

Transcript

  • 12:06:44

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, we'll talk with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, but it's food Wednesday. If you eat meat or animal products, chances are that you may be concerned about the way the animals which produce your food are treated. But federal regulations about how food animals are treated are limited only to slaughter houses where animals may only spend minutes. Animal abuse at farms has largely been exposed by groups like PETA, Mercy for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States and usually by activists working undercover as employees.

  • 12:07:38

    MR. KOJO NNAMDINow, three states, Iowa, Minnesota and Florida, are considering laws to stop such groups from taking pictures or videos in farms, meaning whistle-blowing at large farms could be in danger. Here to talk about these so-called ag gag laws is Paul Shapiro. He is the director of the Farm Animal Protection Campaign for the Humane Society of the United States. Paul, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:02

    MR. PAUL SHAPIROThanks for having me, Kojo.

  • 12:08:04

    NNAMDIAnd joining us from NPR studios in New York is Mark Bittman. He covers food policy issues for The New York Times' opinion pages. Mark Bittman, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:13

    MR. MARK BITTMANWell, good morning. Nice to be here.

  • 12:08:15

    NNAMDILater in the broadcast, we'll be talking with Kevin Vinchattle of the Iowa Poultry Association, but, Mark, let me start with you. As I mentioned earlier, these so-called ag gag laws are under consideration in Florida, Minnesota and Iowa. What do these laws do, and how do they differ in each of these states?

  • 12:08:34

    BITTMANThey're all under development. Paul probably knows more about how they differ in each of the states, but basically what they do is cause the taking of pictures, the transfer of pictures or videotapes on facilities that grow animals, although in some states they even go so far as to include any facility that has animals, which might mean a pet shop. They make that taking of those pictures or videotapes illegal and subject you to criminal prosecution if you do it.

  • 12:09:05

    NNAMDII know that the law in Iowa, the proposal would make it a felony to obtain unauthorized video and photos on Iowa crop and animal agriculture facilities, impose penalties of prison time and fines that would be more severe than for the animal abuse which some images might seek to impose. That, of course, is a partially partisan opinion. But, Paul, do the laws differ in any of the states, or are they all basically the same?

  • 12:09:31

    SHAPIROWell, the laws are at various stages in their state legislatures, and some of them have been amended to be slightly different from the others, but the basic point remains the same. The agri business industry wants to make it a crime merely to take photos or video of what happens inside of our nation's slaughter plants and factory farms, and it's really a response to the numerous exposes that have been done by groups like the Humane Society of the U.S. and others which have revealed time and time again egregious acts of animal cruelty at these facilities. And the agri business industry's response to these exposes has not been to try to prevent or root out that type of animal cruelty, but rather merely to prevent Americans from finding out about that cruelty in the first place.

  • 12:10:13

    SHAPIROAnd this set of bills intended to make it a crime just to take photos of what happens inside factory farms and slaughter plants shows just how far the industry is going to go and just how much the agri business industry has to hide.

  • 12:10:24

    NNAMDIIf you like to join this food Wednesday conversation, you can call us at 800-433-8850. Have you worked on a farm? Do you own a farm? How do you feel about the way the animals we eat are treated? What do you know about it personally? 800-433-8850. Most people may not even be aware, Paul, that the Humane Society does anything besides protect pets, but your campaign exposes alleged animal abuse at farms. How would this so-called ag gag law affect your investigations?

  • 12:10:57

    SHAPIROWell, it would affect them, and you're right, Kojo. Most of the work that the Humane Society of the U.S. does relates to the protection of dogs and cats and wildlife, but we're concerned about the treatment of all animals, including farm animals. And over the past several years, we've conducted a number of undercover exposes that have revealed shocking animal cruelty and food safety problems, and these exposes would not have been possible where these draconian laws to be in place. Just to give two quick examples, in Southern California in 2008, we conducted an expose at a Southern California dairy cow slaughter plant, and our investigator, using a hidden camera, documented people abusing animals in tortuous ways.

  • 12:11:35

    SHAPIRODowner cows, those who are too sick or injured even to stand and walk to their own slaughter, were being tormented, dragged by chains, pushed around with bulldozers, jabbed in the eyes.

  • 12:11:44

    NNAMDIThere has been a law preventing that.

  • 12:11:46

    SHAPIROWell, since then, there's been a new federal law or federal regulation that was put in place as a result of that expose, and it also led to the nation's largest meat recall ever, 143 million pounds of meat recalled due to the food safety concerns that we exposed. And the slaughter plant was shut down, and a manager and a worker were convicted of criminal cruelty to animals. None of this would have been possible or even known about had these type of laws been in place, and we're talking about very serious food safety and criminal animal cruelty concerns. One other quick example, in 2009, the Humane Society of the U.S. did an expose at a Vermont slaughter plant in which our investigator documented people abusing animals in horrific ways.

  • 12:12:29

    SHAPIROIn fact, a USDA inspector was seen on hidden camera telling our investigator, when you find live calves on top of a dead pile, don't tell me because I could shut them down. In another case, where the workers were literally skinning a calf alive, ripping his hide from his body while he was kicking and trashing on the ground, the USDA inspector there said, again on hidden camera, if another inspector were here right now, they could shut you down for this. And yet when we exposed this to the media, not only did USDA shut the plant down but the -- and the plant is still shut down to this day nearly two years later, but the owner and a manager at the plant were convicted of criminal cruelty to animals, and that USDA inspector was subject to disciplinary action. And nobody would have ever even known about these violations of the law had this type of ag gag laws been in place.

  • 12:13:18

    NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, we said we'll be talking later with Kevin Vinchattle of the Iowa Poultry Association, so stay tuned for that. But if you like to join the conversation now, call us at 800-433-8850. Mark Bittman, the tradition of investigative reporting on food, I guess, goes back to Upton Sinclair's revolutionary book on slaughter house conditions, "The Jungle." In fact, that book prompted federal laws about animal and work conditions at slaughter houses. How do these new proposals, these proposed laws threaten press freedoms?

  • 12:13:50

    BITTMANWell, you know, it's funny that Upton Sinclair uncovered animal abuse and other horrors in slaughter houses, and the government's response was to regulate those things. Now, we're on -- people like the Humane Society and other organizations are uncovering animal abuse, and at least the state legislatures' response is to say, well, let's not uncover anymore of these animal abuses. You used the word alleged before, and I'm not going to take issue with your using it. But the value of videotapes, the value of photographs is that these are not alleged abuses. These are documented abuses. And unless you are cynical enough to think that the Humane Society is cynical enough to fake these things.

  • 12:14:38

    BITTMANThe Mercy for Animals video that was released the week before last and which I wrote about last week, is an incredibly horrific documentation of killing, you know, of killing calves with hammers and other abuses. And while no one wants to particularly watch such a video, it's incredibly valuable for us not only in the press but for us as citizens to see those videos and to be able to use them to spur state legislatures and the federal government not to protect the abusers but to protect the animals and indirectly the consumers who really have universally shown that the majority of consumers don't want animals abused. They want to continue to eat animals, but they want to continue eat animals that are humanely raised.

  • 12:15:31

    BITTMANAnd there's a vast, vast difference between places where animals are treated as if they were widgets and animals are treated as if they were living human -- living beings related to humans.

  • 12:15:46

    NNAMDIBut back to my original question about how the proposed laws might threaten press freedoms, it is my understanding that if these laws are passed, it could mean that it would be illegal even to possess these photos, meaning that if you got hold of them and published them and The New York Times published them, the Times would be in violation of the law?

  • 12:16:07

    BITTMANWell, not all three states have that, but it would not only -- yes. There's at least one pending proposal that would not only make it illegal to take these pictures but to transmit these pictures, to receive these pictures which would then or to, yeah, or to receive those pictures which would put basically in violation of the law the videographer or photographer, the organization that had contracted with that person, whether it's the Humane Society or Mercy for Animals or PETA or whomever and, yes, those of us who were receiving these documents and writing about them. This is not -- by the way, I don't think this is going to happen. It's important to struggle against this, but I do think this stuff is unconstitutional.

  • 12:16:53

    BITTMANSo I think we're safe, but it is -- the real point is that what we should be doing is congratulating these videographers and photographers, and we should be congratulating these organizations that are contracting with them. We should be supporting them, and even the industry should be saying we're horrified that these kinds of things are happening in any percentage of our industry, and we're going to cooperate and police this stuff. You know, there's going to be a big debate about whether these kinds of abuses are routine. There is a big debate about whether they're routine or whether they're exceptional. Is it in 1 percent of the industry? Is it in 30 percent of the industry?

  • 12:17:31

    BITTMANWe don't know that, but we need to know that, and we need to make it so that it's not only exceptional but very, very rare.

  • 12:17:38

    NNAMDIPaul...

  • 12:17:38

    BITTMANThat's not going to happen.

  • 12:17:39

    NNAMDIPaul Shapiro, Mark Bittman raised the issue that these laws might be unconstitutional, that they may be a violation of the First Amendment because simply taking a photo or possessing a photo of a farm from the road would be illegal so -- and I'm going to ask this question of Mr. Vinchattle also, but why would lawmakers pass them if in fact they're going to be unconstitutional and likely to be overturned?

  • 12:18:02

    SHAPIROWell, we certainly hope lawmakers do not pass them, and I think a lot of them are considering this issue right now, and numerous legal experts have weighed in and said they believe that these proposals would be unconstitutional. But I also want to address one thing that Mark was saying. Some of these videos are exposing criminal behavior, people who are violating the meager laws that we do have that protect these farm animals while either in slaughter plants or on factory farms. But many of these exposes are actually exposing just standard routine agri business practices. Though they may not be actually illegal, are still very abusive to the animals.

  • 12:18:37

    SHAPIROJust as one example, in the egg industry, the Humane Society of the U.S. exposed the three largest egg producers in three separate exposes last year, two of them in Iowa, and what we found are birds by the millions confined in these small wire-meshed enclosures known as battery cages where the birds are unable even to spread their wings. It's standard practice in America's egg industry to confine these animals in cages that are so restrictive that each bird has less space than a single sheet of paper on which to live for more than a year before she's slaughtered. It really is difficult to imagine a more miserable existence for these birds in the egg industry, and while it may be legal, it is still cruelty to animals.

  • 12:19:19

    SHAPIROAnd one of the important aspects of these exposes is to inform the American public about these standard industry practices that are so extreme that they're just out of step with mainstream America (unintelligible).

  • 12:19:30

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones, here is Rob in Washington, D.C. Rob, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:19:36

    ROBThanks, Kojo. I love your show. This question is directed to Mr. Shapiro, I think, of the Humane Society, and he just alluded to what my question was going to. That is -- he said that there are some agricultural common practices on farms that are not illegal, I guess, under state law, but these are shown. And he mentioned something about overcrowding of birds in cages. Are there other practices that have been caught on videotape that, while not illegal, may be deemed cruel by some that have been shown on these videos?

  • 12:20:20

    SHAPIROWell, thanks for the question, Robin. And, yes, the short answer is yes. And the egg industry is perhaps the most abusive of the agribusiness industries, but there are other -- there's plenty of other standard practices which are also cruel and inhumane. As one example, last year, the Humane Society of the U.S. did an expose of the nation's largest pork producer, Smithfield. And what we documented was the routine practice within the pork industry, where these pigs who are used for breeding are confined in what are known as gestation crates.

  • 12:20:49

    SHAPIROThese are two-foot wide metal cages, barely larger than the pigs' own bodies, in which these animals are confined nearly 24/7 from -- almost their entire lives. These pigs are unable even to turn around for months on end. And this isn't an exception. We're not talking about a rotten egg or just a bad apple in the industry. We're talking about standard industry practices that are simply rotten, like the extreme confinement to the point where these animals are virtually immobilized for months on end, like in the pork industry and in the egg industry.

  • 12:21:22

    NNAMDIHere is Seth in Washington, D.C. Seth, your turn.

  • 12:21:28

    SETHGood morning. I am a doctor of veterinary medicine and have been since 1965 and can recall vividly being at a slaughter house when I was a sophomore in veterinary school in 1963 watching the kosher slaughter. And I, being a secular Jew but still a Jew, feel very strongly that the kosher kill is probably the most inhumane thing I have ever witnessed. And I would be happy to stay off the phone and hear your response. Thank you.

  • 12:22:04

    NNAMDIPaul Shapiro, do you anything about the kosher kill?

  • 12:22:08

    SHAPIROYeah. Well...

  • 12:22:09

    NNAMDIAnd while you're answering that, you might also want to talk about the fact that federal laws enacted in the early 20th century protecting animals stopped at slaughter houses and did not extend to farms. Why not?

  • 12:22:22

    SHAPIROSure. Well, Seth, thanks for your question. And, certainly, you know, what you're talking about is the fact that under kosher and halal slaughter laws, the animals are not to be stunned before their throats are cut. So while for cattle or for pigs, in most slaughter plants, they make an attempt to stun them into unconsciousness before they slit their throats, in kosher and halal slaughter plants, they're not allowed to do that, and so the animals must be fully conscious when their throats are cut.

  • 12:22:48

    SHAPIROAnd numerous exposes of kosher slaughter plants in the United States, especially in Iowa, have revealed some of the most egregious types of animal cruelty that we have seen. And, Kojo, to your point, you're absolutely right. There is no federal law in the United States that relates to the treatment of animals while they're on the farm. We have a Humane Methods of Slaughter Act that was enacted in 1958 that applies to the final moments of some farm animals' lives, the couple of minutes that they spend inside of the slaughter plant.

  • 12:23:15

    SHAPIROBut as poorly enforced as that law may be -- and the USDA interprets it not even to include the vast majority of farm animals, chickens and turkeys, who represent nearly all of the farm animals who we're slaughtering, they don't -- they're not covered under that law by USDA interpretation at all. But for the 99 percent of these animals' lives while they're living on factory farms, there's no federal law that regulates their treatment whatsoever. We do have some state anti-cruelty codes that, in some cases, may be applied to the treatment of these farm animals.

  • 12:23:43

    SHAPIROBut very often, they're not applied to them or customary agricultural practices, regardless of how abusive these practices may be, are exempted from those state cruelty codes.

  • 12:23:54

    NNAMDIMark Bittman, care to comment on that at all?

  • 12:23:57

    BITTMANWell, this is, you know, this is the -- again, the kind of thing, I think, we need to see change. Federal laws protecting animals, not only protecting chickens in slaughterhouses and mandating a humane method of slaughter but protecting animals of all kinds on farms is what's needed to change this. We're not going to see it change state by state although we probably will see small changes state by state. But this is the kind of thing that needs to be dealt with on a federal level. And, again, poll after poll shows that Americans would like to see animals humanely treated.

  • 12:24:32

    NNAMDIMar , in spite of your writing on food policy and on issues like animal cruelty on farms, it's my understanding you are not a vegetarian. Do you believe -- or a vegan. Do you believe it's possible to eat animals ethically?

  • 12:24:45

    BITTMANI think it's possible to eat animals ethically but not at the rate we're eating them now, which is roughly 10 billion. And as Paul alluded to, the vast, vast majority of those are chickens, but we eat 10 billion land animals a year in the United States. And I do not see a method of raising and slaughtering 10 billion animals ethically. If we are able individually or collectively to reduce our meat intake, I think we could have a humane system of raising and eating animals, yes.

  • 12:25:14

    NNAMDIIndeed, Paul, we have a caller on the line who I can't get to right now, who wants to talk about the agricultural-industrial complex. It is possible to find naturally raised beef at grocery stores and farmer's markets as well as cage-free eggs. Is there a real difference in how some farms operate versus others? Would it be enough to convince you, Paul, to eat animal products again?

  • 12:25:35

    SHAPIROSure. Well, first, let me give a plug for Mark's new iPhone app, which is How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. So, Mark, you're welcome for that.

  • 12:25:41

    BITTMANThank you.

  • 12:25:42

    SHAPIROYou can get online and check out Mark Bittman's new app, How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. But to answer your question, Kojo, there is a difference in the way that farm to farm operates. So, for example, nearly all of the -- well, let's just take the egg industry as an example. More than 90 percent of the laying hens in our country are confined in these battery cages, where they're virtually immobilized, as I talked about. However, some of these birds are not.

  • 12:26:08

    SHAPIROThey're kept in cage-free or, in some case, free-range conditions, which are better than the battery cage. It's not to say that that means they're on Old MacDonald's farm by any means whatsoever, but it is to say that they're treated better than the birds who are confined in battery cages. So I think we need to understand that it's not as if all farm animals are treated the same throughout the United States, but it is the case that many of the standard industry practices within the -- especially egg, pork and other poultry sectors, are simply inhumane and are very out of step with how Americans think that these animals ought to be treated.

  • 12:26:46

    SHAPIROAnd Mark and I certainly agree that it would be very helpful to have a reduction in the number of animals who we're eating. And a number of people are now doing things like meatless Mondays, which is being promoted by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health as well as other groups. And that's a good way for people to start incorporating some of these humane-minded decisions in our daily lives.

  • 12:27:08

    NNAMDIPaul Shapiro is the director of the Farm Animal Protection Campaign of the Humane Society of the United States. Paul, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:27:15

    SHAPIROThank you, Kojo.

  • 12:27:16

    NNAMDIMark Bittman covers food policy issues for The New York Times. Mark Bittman, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:27:21

    BITTMANThank you for having me.

  • 12:27:22

    NNAMDIWe're gonna take a short break. When we come back, we'll be talking with Kevin Vinchattle of the Iowa Poultry Association. And later in the broadcast, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:29:17

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our food Wednesday conversation about proposals in three states that would restrict the ability to take photographs and video of what's taking place on large farms. And joining us now by telephone is Kevin Vinchattle, who is the CEO of the Iowa Poultry Association. He's been working with Iowa State Representative Annette Sweeney, who introduced the legislation that we have been talking about in that state. Kevin Vinchattle, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:29:44

    MR. KEVIN VINCHATTLEOh, thank you, Kojo, for the opportunity to be on your show today.

  • 12:29:46

    NNAMDIKevin, after hearing the conversation we've just had, tell me what is your response.

  • 12:29:51

    VINCHATTLEWell, first of all, it's fairly typical. PETA is an organization that doesn't want us using animals in any shape -- way, shape, or form. And HSUS is a willing ally with them. And Mr. Shapiro, who is one of your guests -- I've got a quote of his in front of me here. It says nothing is more important than promoting veganism. And veganism is removing our choice, as consumers, from consuming animal products if we so desire. Paul made that statement as it's printed here at the HSUS's anti-factory farm campaign at the National Student Animal Rights Conference at Cal Berkeley. There are other forms...

  • 12:30:33

    NNAMDIWell, assuming that your quotes are correct and that Paul, specifically, is a vegan or vegetarian and ultimately has that agenda, you heard me asked Mark Bittman, our other guest, if he is a vegetarian. He still eats animal products. But there are people who do eat animal products who are concerned about the treatment of animals on large farms. Should they or should they not be concerned?

  • 12:30:57

    VINCHATTLEKojo, there is nobody more concerned about the treatment of animals than the people -- the farmers themselves. What I'm trying to get across to people is these organizations have agendas. Their agenda is to remove Iowa farmers from the farm. They don't want us producing animals. I categorically deny and reject. I grew up in Iowa. I know what this is about. And I'll tell you, sir, Iowans are the finest people that walked the face of the Earth. And by and large, with the exception, the rarest of exceptions, you may find some animal abuse occurring, we do not tolerate it. Iowa law right now prohibits animal abuse and neglect. Nobody...

  • 12:31:40

    NNAMDIWhat, therefore...

  • 12:31:41

    VINCHATTLENobody involved in this debate, Kojo...

  • 12:31:43

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 12:31:44

    VINCHATTLE...nobody has ever said anything about promoting abuse and neglect. That is an outright misstatement, misfact, lie, mischaracterization in this entire discussion.

  • 12:31:56

    NNAMDII would agree wholeheartedly that I have never heard anybody promoting abuse and neglect. But what would you say to the video evidence that has been provided that there has been some abuse on some farms? And what would you say about the explanation for why there would be a law to prevent any photographing or filming on large farms? Why?

  • 12:32:21

    VINCHATTLEHappy to address that.

  • 12:32:22

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 12:32:24

    VINCHATTLEFirst point, how much of the video is true and how much is staged? We do not know that in all situations. There is a difference between -- and Paul himself brought it out. There is a difference between abuse, neglect and production that you just don't like. Now, Paul Shapiro and HSUS and PETA don't want us eating animals or eating eggs. And you know what? They don't like eggs that are raised in cages. But you know what we found through decades and decades of on-farm experience and university research?

  • 12:32:54

    VINCHATTLEWhen you bring those hens indoors, when you get them off the floor, when you house them in smaller communities, because they've behaved better together that way, you take mortalities from 40 or 50 percent of the flock down into the single digits. Now, what's better for the animal? You know, chickens aren't teddy bears. They're animals, and they have certain aggressive behaviors that they display with each other. And if we're gonna raise them for food, we have to be able to manage that to minimize those activities.

  • 12:33:22

    NNAMDIAllow me to accept that argument completely. My question is still, what is the objection to people taking photographs of -- or filming that process if, as you argue, it is a process that is good for the animals?

  • 12:33:36

    VINCHATTLEWell, let me continue down what I was gonna say. HSUS -- it was about a year ago at this time that Mr. Pacelle had a press conference in Des Moines and exposed some video that was taken at a couple of egg-laying operations here in Iowa. As I understand it, it was an HSUS operative that lied about who he was to get hired there, got hired there, went through one facility's complete animal training procedures, signed their code of conduct.

  • 12:34:07

    VINCHATTLEKojo, I want you to understand, people don't understand that these places have codes of conduct, because the first thing that happens, if you're raising a food-producing animal, the first thing that happens, if you don't take the utmost care of that animal is they quit producing food for you. And in case of a hen, they'll quit laying eggs. Let me read from the code of conduct that that person signed that one of the...

  • 12:34:29

    NNAMDINo, no, allow me to accept the argument that that person violated the code of conduct. Why not simply pass a law, making stronger penalties against people who violate the code of conduct? Why pass a law prohibiting people from photographing or making video?

  • 12:34:47

    VINCHATTLEYou see, Kojo, what you're doing -- and this video is a case in point. I don't know that they ever alleged any animal abuse and neglect, but they took the video and they tried to imply that it's abusive to raise hens as they're raised today. We don't believe that's true because of what I just said earlier. They put it that out here...

  • 12:35:07

    NNAMDIWell, why stop them...

  • 12:35:07

    VINCHATTLEThey put it that out here...

  • 12:35:08

    NNAMDIWhy stop them from taking...

  • 12:35:09

    VINCHATTLEKojo...

  • 12:35:09

    NNAMDIWhy stop them from the video if, in fact, you can make a legitimate argument about why animals are being treated in that way?

  • 12:35:18

    VINCHATTLEBecause you don't have -- first of all, you don't have to have a video. You could just discuss it right now. You got to understand this. There -- if an animal is truly being abused or neglected, the time to report it is not three months down the road, six weeks down the road through a video and a press conference. Iowa law is set up right now that you should report that immediately. And that's what we would say. If an animal is truly being abused and neglected, you should report it right away. If you...

  • 12:35:49

    NNAMDII'm running out of time very quickly, Paul Vinchattle, but if, as it has been argued, these laws are likely to be found unconstitutional, if, in fact, what you're saying is that somebody simply cannot take photographs of what's taking place on a large farm even if they happened to be standing outside with a cell phone camera, then you seem to be, as I said, seem to be, in violation of the First Amendment.

  • 12:36:16

    VINCHATTLEWell, Kojo, no one has ever, in our discussions on this bill, no one has -- and I know the First Amendment has been something that has been thrown out by a lot of people. I don't -- none of us -- no one that I've ever heard discussing anything on this bill has ever said you can't -- as I heard in your -- by your guests earlier, said you can't stand outside of the road and take a picture of a farm. I mean, it's just -- it's nonsensical, some of the arguments being thrown against this. Here's the core of what this...

  • 12:36:44

    NNAMDIWhy should nobody be able to take pictures from inside?

  • 12:36:46

    VINCHATTLEIf I may continue...

  • 12:36:48

    NNAMDISure.

  • 12:36:48

    VINCHATTLE...here's the core of what this argument is about. There are examples in animal production all across the country -- and the by the way, none of us in Iowa that ever worked on this bill have talked about anything in terms of animal processing. This has been on the farm -- on the production side. So, again, much of your discussion was about slaughter houses and things like that. And that's not been what this bill is about. But let me say this. There are examples where people have lied about who they are to get hired for the purposes of taking pictures to then go out and disparage animal agriculture.

  • 12:37:21

    VINCHATTLEThat's the core of this bill. It has never, never, I repeat, never been about putting any kind of a chill on reporting the animal abuse (unintelligible)

  • 12:37:29

    NNAMDIOK. I only have time for one more question. I only have time for one more question. You're saying that the purpose of the bill is to prevent people from going undercover as employees to take pictures of what's going on in these farms. What is your objection to pictures of what's going on in these farms being revealed regardless of whether people go undercover or not?

  • 12:37:54

    VINCHATTLEWell, first of all, there are facilities out there that even have websites where you can see the hens in our case. So it's not like the pictures aren't available. But if a person lies -- these are farming operations, and the care of the animals is of utmost concern, the spread of disease and things like that. If a person is there under false pretenses, why should you trust them to have the best care of your animals at heart when they're actually there to try to do anything they can to collect something that they can go out and later twist and try to make you look bad, because they don't like people consuming your product?

  • 12:38:30

    NNAMDIBecause, frankly...

  • 12:38:31

    VINCHATTLEThat's the core...

  • 12:38:31

    NNAMDIBecause, frankly...

  • 12:38:31

    VINCHATTLEThat's the core this bill.

  • 12:38:32

    NNAMDIBecause, frankly...

  • 12:38:33

    VINCHATTLEThat's the core of this bill.

  • 12:38:34

    NNAMDIWell, because, frankly, Kevin Vinchattle, reporters, news reporters in the media have been going undercover for years, for decades, to expose illegal activities or inhumane activities taking place in sweatshops and in other places. Would you have that kind of activity cut off completely?

  • 12:38:54

    VINCHATTLEKojo, two recent examples in Iowa for people that went in, lied about who they went in, went in and misrepresented in the videos produced what it's all about. I mean, if people...

  • 12:39:05

    NNAMDIOkay.

  • 12:39:06

    VINCHATTLE...if people don't want to buy eggs produced by cage layers, that's fine. They're already out there on the market. But there was another example where a piece of equipment was modified, shown in the video, and that organization to this day, MFA, says that's the way it happens. Well, that operation had three people, three outside experts, come in and say, no, that's not the way your policy was. That's not the way it is. That's not the way it was supposed to work and be working. So something happened here.

  • 12:39:34

    NNAMDIWell, I'm afraid that's all the time we have. Kevin Vinchattle is the CEO of the Iowa Poultry Association. Kevin Vinchattle, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:39:43

    VINCHATTLEThank you very much for having me on, Kojo.

  • 12:39:44

    NNAMDIWhen we come back, we'll be talking with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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