Now, Factory Farming Secrets May Never Be Exposed Again

This week, it emerged that a lawsuit against Kroger (NYSE: KR  ) regarding misleading "humane" labels on its meat may become a class action suit. At the end of February, Idaho joined a disgraceful club when it passed what's come to be known as an "ag gag" law. These two developments are related, and they spell nothing but trouble for consumers and investors alike.

Source: The Humane Society of the United States.

Wilbur's a pork chop now?
It's no secret that over the past few decades, Americans have grown further and further removed from the origins of their food. More and more people are fundamentally ignorant of the mechanisms by which nourishment arrives on their dinner plate each night. As our backs have been turned, the conditions of many meat- and dairy-animal operations have devolved into such horror that we would run screaming if we only knew.

Seriously, it would be hard to exaggerate how appalling these facilities can be. Rolling Stone recently published a piece that every non-vegan American should read. We as a society reacted with absolute shock to the things Michael Vick did to dogs, but that guy is Dr. Dolittle compared with some of the folks in charge of livestock.

In the face of such madness, activists have worked tirelessly to expose these abuses to the light of day, often at grave personal expense. Again, read the Rolling Stone piece to see what genuinely principled sacrifice looks like. These activists' efforts have exposed atrocious conditions in the supply chains of such titans as Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN  ) . Indeed, regarding gestation crates -- an issue related to the humane treatment of pigs -- Tyson Foods faced such a backlash from consumers and investors that the company had to alter its policies. The current lawsuit against Kroger is just the latest iteration of this struggle.

More and more consumers and retailers are demanding change from meat and dairy producers. So what do these producers do in response? They lobby like mad to get "ag gag" bills passed, in direct opposition to the changing tide. These bills, which have passed in a few states now and are poised for further adoption, essentially gut activists' ability to conduct their investigations and reveal what's really happening in these facilities.

Watch the video below to hear more about what would make Sinclair Lewis spin in his grave, and why it's such a terrible idea for both consumers and investors.

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Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 7:42 PM, jl4387 wrote:

    Sara, I used to raise hogs on my farm and although I've been out of the business for about 14 years, your info is way off base. I thought that a little bit of light could be light on the subject would be appreciated by the FOOL:

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 8:49 PM, Hmc202 wrote:

    Honestly, I find your information incorrect and misleading. You state no fact at all to support your claim.

    Simply put, you set a good example of poor journalism based your lack of education on this matter.

    You may want to consider another career.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2014, at 9:37 PM, Wpatsche wrote:

    Sara, I am a hog farmer and I wrote the blog. What exactly are you questioning?

  • Report this Comment On March 11, 2014, at 1:31 PM, jl4387 wrote:

    Hey Sara. What are you doing? Are you hiding? Are you afraid of communicating with people that actually know what they're talking about?

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 7:58 PM, gnoem wrote:

    Seriously Fool?

    Spin free advice?

    There was one sentence from Sara that talked about difficulty to evaluate the risk that a company has.

    However, Sara does not talk about the structure of the pork production business.

    Where is the investment advice in this article, or others that Ms Sara writes about Animal Agriculture?

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2014, at 6:14 PM, jl4387 wrote:

    Sara, I've now read all of your other articles. It seems you're upset by companies that may or may not misrepresent themselves, but in your video above, you're upset that laws may be put into place to stop activists from misrepresenting themselves to get hired so that they may cause harm to the unsuspecting employer. I'm confused by your being against something on one hand , yet for it if it serves your activist viewpoints. I guess that if you're an activist,( which it certainly appears to me) that there are no ethics or morals that would apply to any activist actions?

    Needless to say, I shant be wasting my time reading anything else that you write.

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Sara Murphy

Sara has been writing about and analyzing companies from a sustainable investment perspective for the last 15 years. An ardent optimist, she believes that it is entirely possible for all stakeholders to benefit and profit from companies' ingenuity and innovation.

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