If you're inside agriculture, you may want to tune in or record the National Geographic Channel's "Inside: Secret America" series at 10 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 31. Animal Agriculture Alliance's President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith will be featured in a segment titled "Animal Undercover."
Early this year, the Alliance – a coalition of farmers and organizations focused on animal ag's role in the economy and food supply – was approached by series producers and investigative journalists Mariana van Zeller and Darren Foster about a segment regarding animal rights groups.
The segment was to focus on the animal rights movement, undercover videos and farm protection or "ag gag" legislation. Foster and van Zeller were drawn to the topic because of the seemingly deceptive, sometimes extreme tactics that can be employed by activist groups.
Johnson Smith sat down with van Zeller and discussed the real motivations behind the animal rights movement and its undercover videos.
"We were pleased to be contacted," she says. "It's important to engage with journalists – even on such controversial topics – so that agriculture's story isn't told by detractors."
Yet the threat of unfounded regulations is rising, maintains Johnson. Unfortunately, she notes, such impositions will only "increase food prices and boost the volume of products shipped from areas with inferior food safety records and produced by those with lower husbandry standards.
"[The American public] really doesn't have any firsthand knowledge about how food is produced, so they're very susceptible to videos presented by activist groups," adds the Animal Agriculture Alliance executive. "Legislators in many states have stepped up and recognized the importance of agriculture, and have decided to protect our nation's farm families."
Van Zeller and Foster also interviewed several members of animal rights group Mercy for Animals, an organization that uses undercover video footage to disparage animal agriculture.