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How to Avoid Hiring an Animal Rights Activist

When bringing on new farm employees be alert for suspicious resume content, and more.

Published on: Apr 8, 2013

In 2010, Rose Acre Farms, the second largest producer of eggs in the U.S., unknowingly hired an undercover videographer from Humane Society of the United States.

Joe Miller, general counsel for Rose Acre, says the employee shot three hours of video, which was edited down to three minutes. Despite the lack of any evidence of abuse, HSUS held a press conference and barred anyone connected with ag from entering.

"I could take three hours of video of anyone and make it look bad if I edited it down to three minutes," Miller adds.

Luckily, Rose Acre was proactive in their reaction. They were in the hallways of the press conference and held a press conference of their own. They invited every member of the media to visit any farm location at any time. They had one taker. The nightly news reported none of HSUS' claims were verified in their footage.

PROTECTING THE FARM: A quality operation should be aware that groups dont like anything they see and will get hired on to tell their version of your story.
PROTECTING THE FARM: A quality operation should be aware that groups don't like anything they see and will get hired on to tell their version of your story.

Hindsight is 20/20

Looking back, Miller says there were numerous warning signs that this employee was not legitimate. His work history was falsified. He was from out of state, and listed a cheap motel as his permanent residence.

However, the farm has 1,800 employees with a 30% turnover rate. Checking references becomes arduous with those numbers. Needless to say, a renewed interest on weeding these folks out has been instituted at Rose Acre Farms.

For those who think an undercover video law will provide plenty of protection, think again. Additionally, only six states have such laws in place: Utah, Missouri, Arkansas, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Nebraska. According to Illinois Farm Bureau attorney Laura Harmon, Illinois farmers could file a civil suit in response to an undercover video. There is a statute on the books that protects against employees seeking employment under false pretenses.

"You really need to have better hiring practices," Harmon adds. "Most of these folks are obviously not farm employees."

Hiring tips

Here are several tips for hiring managers looking to avoid an undercover video fiasco.

* Examine employment history: If working with animals seems completely out of character with this person's previous employment history, this could be an indicator they're not who they say they are. Also, an out of state driver's license could raise suspicions.

* Check references: This is the best way to verify previous employment. In Rose Acre's case, the undercover videographer had falsified all three jobs listed on his application.

* Verify the address: Many undercover activists hole up in a hotel while working at the farm. This could be an indicator that they don't plan on sticking around very long.

* Look for suspicious activity: If the employee consistently volunteers for unsavory jobs, this could be a red flag. Also, if they're caught milling around in areas outside of their job description, this could be another hint they're spying on you.

* Have an animal-abuse policy: With any new hire, the procedures for reporting animal abuse should be covered and available in writing. Make sure employees know they're required to report abuse within 48 hours (in case the incident is witnessed on a Friday). Also, Miller says don't be afraid to include language that says if the employee fails to report an abuse, which was caught on tape, then they can be held legally accountable.

- Flint is editor of sister publication Prairie Farmer

Add Comment
  1. Kenya KJ says:

    What you factory farm workers do to animals is absolutely evil. If the video was 5 hours, 3 minutes, or 20 seconds it is clear that you treat animals horribly. I'm glad that someone was able to get in there and get footage of the torture you inflict on these innocent creatures.

  2. Monique says:

    He implies 3 minutes of three hours of animal abuse is acceptable. He spent time writing an article about how to shroud your business in secrecy. He expressed fear of "getting caught on tape" abusing animals because someone might have an undercover camera. Yeah, not good signs.

  3. MH says:

    Methinks Mr Flint may be a conspiracy theorist ;)

  4. MH says:

    Oh yeah be alert for suspicious compassionate acts of people in the past. You never know when one will sneak up and hug you.

  5. E. Rome says:

    Great advice on how to support animal cruelty.

  6. Kevin says:

    "I could take three hours of video of anyone and make it look bad if I edited it down to three minutes," Hilarious. This is like saying "I didn't beat my wife for the other two hours and 57 minutes, so the 3 minutes I did beat my wife doesn't count. You guys are toooo much!

  7. Anne says:

    Any company should already be sharp enough not to hire an individual who has false credentials, but perhaps certain ag industries are finding themselves with employees they are not happy about since their turn-over rate is so outrageously high. A good idea would be to look at your business' lack of fair wages, decent working conditions, & INTEGRITY in job purpose... If employees are content with such things, there wouldn't be an abnormal turn-over rate & no need to hire suspicious people. Another point, IF a business is running with integrity, why is there a desire to hide? If a company TRULY has no reason to fear incurring violations or causing other public or legal reactions, then it wouldn't need to worry about anyone taking record of anything happening in the company. America is FOUNDED on checks and balances, & founded on the rights of citizens to know the truth about the products they are being sold. If animal abuse is happening at all- even a small percent- then it is the consumer's right to that information. If an individual happens to share information about a company that is incrimminating, the company has nothing to fear unless there is any truth to what the individual has claimed or exposed. When ag industries get shaken from "spies" & protest against being "seen", they are only causing consumers to wonder why. Wouldn't YOU want the bank that holds your money to be open to scrutiny? The car manufacturer that designed your car & the mechanic who fixes it to be held up to the highest standards & open to having consumer witnesses attest to its honest & safe practices? This need not be a heated debate. If ag industries were forthright & accessible from the beginning, there wouldn't be "extreme measures" taken to try to understand the truth. Please realize that individuals (& groups) want to merely know what is sincerely taking place in companies that deal with something valuable to them (in this case, animals, to say the least). If you are a farmer, agricultural industry manager or worker, please just worry about the INTEGRITY of your own practices & day-to-day operations. Do you feel good about everything you do? Are you being honest with everyone about your operations? If so, you certainly don't have anything to be worried about, because even if you are falsely accused, you will not be undone. America is founded on our accountability to each other. We all depend on others to be truthful to us & to not be so selfish or greedy that they succumb to doing abusive, dishonest, or inappropriate things in order to make money. No one would want someone to do that to us. Let's all live by the Golden Rule.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don't have any good "argument:" to make here, but only a simple statement. If the world can eventually reduce the need to raise animals for meat consumption, it will be a much better world and a more peaceful one.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Looks like several animal rights radicals have left comments, so sad. I don't farm but I grew up next to one. I totally get what the article is saying & farmer's concerns. Animal rights radicals LIE. H$U$ LIES. I just had a conversation w. one of their reps concerning animal statistics, they don't have any, yet they keep spewing made up stats as if they can back them up. Anyway I support farmers, not radical animal rightists who know nothing about raising animals yet LIE about everything. If people had more to do w/ Ag they would understand husbandry better, why things are done. Don't think for one microsecond ANYTHING coming from animal rights radicals is accurate. If you have questions about farming go ask somebody who actually does it...the farmer. Stop giving money to H$U$ A$PCA & the other animal rights radicals, they know nothing about raising animals, push a radical no animal use of any kind agenda, and LIE about everything.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am a regular old omnivore who grew up on a Michigan farm and I have to say, this is disturbing. I think we- especially those of us who grew up close to nature- would like to trust the farmers supplying our grocers.... The fact that you guys need to shroud your practice in privacy and mystery is upsetting. Our local pig farmers allowed walk-in tours at all hours. What are you so ashamed of?

  11. Anonymous says:

    What is there to be so afraid of if there is nothing to hide?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Not all animal rights activists fabricate their stories. If there is nothing to hide then why make such a big deal of it? Do you recognize that what you're doing is wrong and that's why you don't want any part of it exposed? 3 minutes or 3 hours; wrong is wrong. I think that's where your annoyance with animal rights activists comes from. When they're around, you can't be blissfully unaware of your lack of morals. At the very least, I guess the animal abuse policy you mentioned is commendable.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am so sad to see this article on this site. A lot of the local farmers I know are animal activists and truly care about the well being of their animals. Farmers should have nothing to hide. I really hope that conditions for these animals are improved over time, not made worse by essentially making the process a black market. Laws to ban filming only benefit those whose main concern is profit and I think that is extremely sad when living beings are involved.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Check them out by giving them a life cow or pig and tell them to cut off their legs with a bolt cutter. If the candidate is not able to do it, he does not fit into your business. Since the US army practiced this on goats, this test must be perfectly legal, no risk of being accused of animal cruelty....

  15. Anonymous says:

    Mass murderers don't want anybody to video tape it, its nobody else's business.

  16. Anonymous says:

    You could do all this or perhaps maybe you could just not abuse animals in your care? It's a silly idea I know, but it might be more cost effective in the long run

  17. Anonymous says:

    To the person who said if you don't have anything to hide then don't worry about who you hire...Lol.. Who wants "activists" scrutonizing every aspect of YOUR life. Can I come live with you and then turn you in for every illegal thing you do... Talk and drive?? drive over the speed limit?? Are your car emissions always correct?? how about yours tires? Ever spank your kid? Want to release your taxes forms?? Is your hot water heater set correctly? What about your entire private life?? Ever had maybe one to many drinks but were still ok to drive? Over fertilized your lawn or watered your lawn or washed your car on "off days"?? And I KNOW you have never smacked your puppy or cat when it was being mischievous?? SOOO "activists" can I come follow you around and record every aspect of YOUR life and then edit the tape to my liking and then turn it over to the proper authorities too?? Maybe get some fines?? Maybe be nationally scrutonized for doing something "eye brow raising" like disciplining an animal or child? Can I come into your house and place of work and record every aspect of YOUR life and edit it, OH all the while you not KNOWING that i'm there just for the purpose to catch you messing up just to humilitate you... Can I do that to YOU??? Don't think it's a good idea then support laws that say simply don't come under false pretenses onto my property and business just to "catch" me. If you want a job then fill out an application!! TW

  18. Anonymous says:

    google Daniel and Carrie Ault in Indiana. This week they were busted with almost 200 dead animals on their farm, they own a slaughterhouse and work at the local auction in Strawtown-all over the news in Indiana. Its a crazy situation, the kids were living with the parents in the barn WITH the dead animals and they had a pit just discovered yesterday with 50 animals in it dead, there were 30 malnourished animals and they removed the children, the children were using the bathroom in buckets in the barns. Yeah banning activists sound like a great idea-take a look at these people! This is a childs and animals worst nightmare!

  19. Anonymous says:

    If you had nothing to hide why worry about who you hire and why would you need protection from whistle blowers by the government ...

  20. Anonymous says:

    The highest duty of a civilized society is to protect the innocent defenseless from abuse. Otherwise, we are barbarians. Respect all beings.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I have a question to the hsus activist that obviously recieved payment for the time spent employed at the farm. As an employee would it not be prudent to first report any abuse to your manager or the farm owner? In my employment if I see something wrong it is my responsibility to report within the organization first... Its just the right thing to do... I question the true underlying motive when issues are first made known in a way that would create discord and strife. the truth is that most activists subconsciously feed off of the drama and that drama becomes more important than addressing the issues at hand.

  22. Anonymous says:


  23. Anonymous says:

    WOW.... Your ignorant and pathetically apathetic side is showing calling others "retards"..... someone once said, "it is better to be thought a fool than to open you mouth and remove all doubt".... ya really ought to take heed to this.

  24. Anonymous says:

    "Activists are more intelligent??" That's just typical vegan-bullshit-lingo. They only THINK they are more intelligent than everyone else. When they're really nothing but retards. They repeat the same bullshit everywhere. They think repeating it makes it true and makes them seem more knowledgable than they really are. Thier problem is all their so-called "knowledge" is from very biased sources like HSUS and PeTA. Groups like those only tell them what they want them to hear, and the dumb vegans take it as the gospel truth, and use it to spread their bullshit.

  25. Anonymous says:

    HSUS is full of nothing but retards. I laugh at anyone who thinks orgs like that really do any good. If that 'worker' got only 3 minutes of (questionably) bad footage out of 3 hours of filming, then there's nothing to worry about.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Update: Activists are more intelligent?? At What particular job would that be? I pride myself I could debate you most points in life (except arts and performing arts) but I sure think that is was a very IGNORANT statement myself, but if it made you feel empowered. Atta-boy to you. And to everyone who wants to know where your food comes from. I am just always confused why you just don't grow your own? SHOW me how you can do it yourself better and i'll even help you with whatever you need but don't be a LAAzy behind and want to tell me how I should do it. (It's not as easy as you think and it's very discouraging and heartbreaking to grow plants and animals.) And if you don't like how I/we do it then find a local grower (they are great too) who grows it to your special desires. They charge a lot more usually because of the economics of small scale but if you don't mind paying more then support a local grower.. Just stop trying to tell people how you think it should be done when you won't do it yourself. TW

  27. Anonymous says:

    Note to self: avoid Rose Acre Farms. I want to know where my food has been.

  28. Anonymous says:

    You could also weed them out by noticing they are more intelligent and informed than most.

  29. Anonymous says:

    "Humane" food production.... in itself is an oxymoron.

  30. Anonymous says:

    For those of you with negative attitudes towards agriculture, whether it be large farms or the neighbor down the road... I urge you to do a few things. First, educate yourself on the facts of humane food production and the general knowledge that it takes to operate a farm in today’s economic climate Second, purchase some livestock yourself and see if you can do a better job, or become a member of a CSA and get involved in producing your own food. Lastly, respect that most farmers take great pride in their operation, producing a quality product at an affordable price, and truly love and care for their animals. In most cases, livestock are treated with more respect than you treat your children, peers, or mother-in-law. You can pretend all day long like you have the first clue about what it is like to raise livestock or be involved in agriculture/food production in general, but in all reality most people with negative views towards farming have never stepped foot on a working operation. But at the same time, you demand cheap food, cheap fuel, cheap construction materials, etc without regards to how this may impact those that supply you with the very essentials of life. Look who's calling the kettle black now. Ignorance and uneducated accusations only make you the fool. If you don’t support the use of fossil fuels for petroleum, are you going to start riding a bike wherever you go? Will you stop traveling? If you don’t support something, there are always other options, but most people would rather pad their own finances. Out of sight out of mind. We are all human, so before you go pointing fingers, think about that. Get to know a local farmer, support local agriculture, purchase food from local farms.

  31. Anonymous says:

    it is a shame for the human who tread animals this way; me myself l am a veganist, but even so, do humans not have feelings??? treat an animal like you wish they would treat yourself!!! do only to animals what you want to you!!!

  32. Anonymous says:

    My point is and was the SAME.. Lead by EXAMPLE if your going to critisize. Most domestic violence agency workers don't abuse their spouses. (and most of them ARE or Have domestic partners) Does HSUS abuse your animals or really understand the industry they are trying to control? the simple answer is NO THEY DO NOT!! Long ago saying.. don't critisize or say you can do better until you do it!!! And it's sad you compare human domestic violence with a chicken's foot stuck in a cage. I stand by what I say!! If you can or could do better with a business model plan.. YOU WOULD!! But you can't so you critisize. Prove me wrong by actions, I honestly love new ideas that are proven. HSUS took in around 140 MILLION dollars last year. Put some of that money and SHOW me how you can do it better and not just pay attor-ninies and lobbiests. But I know you won't .. it's easier to critisize than do that. That is HSUS biggest challenge in proving to farmers that their ideas are better. Prove to me your business model will work. TW

  33. Anonymous says:

    The Humane Society has been an important advocate for animals and animal shelters, funding spaying and neutering clinics, working through public education, cruelty investigations, research promoting animal protection issues. Being an advocate in these ways is an important part of helping animals and does not require providing shelters. This is a bogus complaint and red herring from animal abusers who have no other way to criticize the good work these animal advocates do. The purpose of advocacy groups is to work to pass laws, fund attorneys and provide services in other ways. For example, there are advocacy groups doing great work for battered women (providing legal services and trying to pass protection laws for example) even though they don't provide any shelters for women. The HSUS is an advocacy group helping animals and they don't need to provide shelters.

  34. Anonymous says:

    We are infiltrating their businesses and shining light on the darkness of the horrors that exist within their walls..... yet, they think this article is going to stop us..... I laugh at their ignorance!

  35. Anonymous says:

    As for the HSUS.. what a joke of an organization as they are proving in California with the egg proposal. This is a organization that gets over 100 million dollars a year they don't own ONE farm. Not one humane dairy, not one humane egg farm, not one humane broiler shed, not one humane feedlot, not even more than one animal humane SHELTER.. But they can sure tell everyone else how to do it with their corporate suit attor-ninies.. LMAO They remind me of the that Wife's mother-in-law comments that wife is never good enough for them. Oh and HEIDI.. what good does your name do ? I don't know you nor you me... TW

  36. Anonymous says:

    Animal rights activism places the rights of pretended rights of animals in priority over that of humans. As such, no one can simultaneously support the rights of both. Animal law is a joke and this is why. Legitimate law involves the rights and obligations that flow back and forth between the parties. Humans can carry out rights and obligations toward animals, but clearly an animal cannot carry out an obligation toward a human. Sentience in animals, the human-like ability to feel pain and suffer, is the resurrection of a superstition discredited some 360 years ago. Notice the vegan women who have to go back to meat after ruining their bodies forever because of malnutrition from Marxist vegan cult diets. Shame, shame.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I am not going to justify TRUE animal abuse nor even talk about it, what I am going to comment to everyone who critique, especially the HSUS, if you know how to do it better and tell everyone how it should be done. WHY aren't you people doing it yourself? Why don't you own dairies and show me what to do with a 1 ton cow who won't get up and is in the way, why don't you show me how to produce millions of eggs without cages and what size? why don't you show me how to grow crops without chemicals? The simple answer folks is: Because it doesn't work!! Everyone tries to do their best but sometimes you have to do things that are "sad". I always sadly say to people if you don't like how I do it.. Then do it yourself and we'll see how well you do. The best if you don't like how animals are raised is to go Vegetarian but for me personally I get the same sadness seeing the combine going through a field as dressing out a chicken .. It's the end of a life cycle and whether it's a plant OR animal all life is precious. But don't critisize unless you ARE doing it better!! Tw

  38. Anonymous says:

    I scream for the rights of ALL life... farmers AND animals, alike. Just an observation: If you feel that strongly about your opinion(s), please sign your name(s) to your submission(s). The author of the article did. Thank-you, Josh Flint. Respectfully, Heidi Ramey

  39. Anonymous says:

    I respect your right to not hire an activist. I do not on the other hand respect your right to try and criminalize activism. Please respect the right of thoughtful citizens to express what they see as a moral outrage. These animal abuse videos have mobilized a movement towards improving the quality of life of hens, pigs, and cows. Frequently, "abuse" is a product of farmers feeling rushed or cutting corners. In the absence of the animal welfare movement, there is an obvious race to the bottom. Battery cages are a classic example of this, while the quality of life of a chicken in a bigger more enriched cage is improved, farmers or agribusiness won't make these investments unless there exists political pressure. This political pressure comes from us activists.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Factory animal abuse is unconscionable. We are not "animal rights activates", we are people who see our own souls in the eyes of animals. We are people who know that cruelty to animals is a reflection of ourselves. Killing for the sake of killing or for profits is wrong no matter what. J. M.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Cases of animal abuse are widespread and well-documented and they are not isolated incidents. Any time someone turns on the video camera, they can find abuse because it is standard industry practice--and for a very good reason. Abusing animals adds a large percentage to the profits of factory farmers. The more animals are crammed into smaller spaces, moved quicker through assembly lines, and treated as machines instead of the creatures they are, the more money they make. Last year several spokespersons for the egg industry admitted that grinding live chicks up in a wood-chipper-machine or suffocating chicks in plastic bags was standard practice. That they can advocate this with a straight face tells us about the depths of their inhumanity. Christian conservative Matthew Scully, deputy director of presidential speech writing for George W. Bush, had this to say in his book Dominion. "...the persistent animal-welfare questions of our day center on institutional cruelties—on the vast and systematic mistreatment of animals that most of us never see." When conservatives like Scully begin writing books about the cruelty, people should pay attention. The right-wing is not usually willing to denounce lucrative business practices even when they entail gross abuse of animals, the environment, or anything else.

  42. Anonymous says:

    That's so convoluted. You should just stop abusing the animals, then you wouldn't have to worry about hiring activists.

  43. Anonymous says:

    You folks are lying idiots. "Yes please protect soulless corporations.", what an asinine comment. please dont partake in anything society has to offer with that attitude.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Rose Acre Farms The investigator worked at Rose Acre Farms, the country's second-largest egg producer, for 15 days during February, working at three facilities in Winterset, Stuart, and Guthrie Center, Iowa. These factory farms confine nearly four million laying hens and about one million young hens (pullets). At the Guthrie Center location, battery cages are stacked eight high and hold more than two million birds. At the Stuart and Winterset locations, battery cages are stacked four high. Our Rose Acre findings: Broken bones: Workers roughly yank young hens (pullets) from their cages in the growing sheds and load them into mobile cages for transport to battery cages, resulting in a mass of twisted bodies. Extremely rough handling: The HSUS investigator videotaped workers pulling young hens from the mobile cages and stuffing them into battery cages. Cruel depopulation methods: The HSUS investigator documented workers grabbing hens by their legs, then cramming them into gassing carts where they're killed with carbon dioxide. Prolapsed uteruses: Hens suffer from "blow-outs" that go unnoticed and untreated due to the cage crowding. Trapped birds unable to reach food and water: Battery cages can trap hens by their wings, necks, legs, and feet in the wire, causing other birds to trample the weakened animals, usually resulting in a slow, painful death. High mortality in layer and pullet sheds: The HSUS investigator pulled dead young hens, some of them mummified (meaning they'd been rotting in the cages for weeks), from cages every day. Failure to maintain manure pits: According to one worker, the manure pit under a pullet shed had not been cleaned in two years. Rose Acre workers claimed that some hens are blinded because of excessive ammonia levels. Abandoned hens: Some hens manage to escape from their cages and fall into the manure pits below.

    • anon says:

      yeah its funny how none of their supporters have anything to say to the facts of the matter.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Yes please protect soulless corporations. you make me sick.

  46. Anonymous says:

    You must be afraid of something if you don't want AR activists on your farm. I would invite them to my place with open arms.