This week, it emerged that a lawsuit against Kroger (KR 1.09%) 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.
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 (TSN 1.75%). 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.