The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 25, 2012

Your View: New class of criminals

By Kaye Smith
Special to The Globe

PIERCE CITY, Mo. — Good grief! Surely this is a bad joke. Our overworked state legislators have passed a bill, House Bill 1860, making it a crime to photograph inside a concentrated animal-feeding operation (CAFO) or to lie when applying for a job at one, punishable by a six-month to four-year prison term and fines of $1,000 per offense. Why?

If nothing is amiss inside one of these large operations, why make it a crime to take a picture or deny that you belong to ASPCA? Obviously, there is concern that, if people see sometimes deplorable conditions where our food is raised, they’ll be uncomfortable or repulsed. They needn’t worry. There’s little correlation between a temporary repulsion and enjoying a fried chicken or pork chop dinner later.

Another question: How? What law enforcement efforts will be required to track and apprehend this new class of perpetrators — photographers and animal lovers? Will our overcrowded prison population, which consists mostly of drug users and pushers, soon be joined by this new category of wrongdoers?

Another recent development is that the Food and Drug Administration wants to limit the amount of antibiotics routinely fed to animals in CAFOs because these drugs get into our immune systems and become a danger to human health. The kicker is that the FDA wants veterinarian, pharmaceutical and meat-processing industries to do this voluntarily. Seriously?

Pharmaceutical and meat-processing industries will voluntarily curtail a practice that increases their profits by making animals grow larger faster and helps them survive their cramped environments?

When? That will happen when chickens grow teeth, pigs escape tiny cages and fly, and cows ascend from their feed lots and jump over the moon.

How naive can some government entities be? How ignorant do some perceive the public to be? Evidently, there’s no limit to either or we wouldn’t be subjected to such blatant, transparent shenanigans. Besides, our legislators face other important tasks: choosing a state exercise (maybe futility?), state butterfly and state dog.

Kaye Smith

Pierce City