Today, we announced the release of a new resource for farm workers who witness animal abuse and want to stop it. The HSUS and the United Farm Workers just announced a new tip line for factory farm whistleblowers, in which they can receive a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of farm animal abusers.
Our hope is that this hotline (1-888-209-7177) will allow those on the frontlines to report animal cruelty and abuse in order to help stop it.
This new tool is vital for at least three reasons. First, factory farming has become so extreme, and the animals turned into objects or instrumentalities, that routine abuses are common. Stopping excessive cruelty and suffering at these operations is an imperative for us, and this will help. Second, many farm workers don’t know where to turn if they see cruelty or abuse. They often cannot go to management and get a receptive audience because management is often part of the problem. And third, the industry is making concerted efforts to hide routine practices from the American public – they want to keep the American public in the dark and hide the suffering and the cruelty.
There’s no better evidence of their attempt to suppress an honest look at what’s going on than the industry’s drive to pass so-called ag-gag, or anti-whistleblower, laws at the state level. In the last two years, they’ve advanced bills in nearly 20 states, in a national movement to criminalize undercover investigations.
This year Idaho lawmakers rammed through an ag-gag bill there, making it the seventh state to make undercover investigations and whistleblowing more difficult (several of those bills passed two decades ago, and now there’s been a more organized effort to pass them). Fortunately, we defeated similar measures in a dozen other states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky. Idaho’s law is now the subject of a legal challenge, and we’re hopeful about the outcome.
At the same time, on some factory farms, agribusiness officials are trying a new tactic to prevent videography of animal cruelty and abuse: making farm workers sign documents pledging not to take photos or videos.
While Cesar Chavez, a long-time vegetarian who cared about the mistreatment of farm animalsand founder of the United Farm Workers, isn’t alive to see this collaboration between The HSUS and his organization, I bet he’d be proud to witness this bridge-building between these two social justice movements. It’s an honor to work with the United Farm Workers, and we look forward to working with individual farm workers who are ready to blow the whistle on factory farm and slaughter plant abuses.
His words ring in my ear. “We need, in a special way,” once said Chavez, “to work twice as hard to make all people understand that animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves.”