Last week a video from an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals publicized on the internet and in news stories across the country showed workers at a Texas dairy cow facility bludgeoning calves to death with hammers and pick axes. The owner of the E6 Cattle company in Hart, Tex, this week explained that the calves were being euthanized because they had suffered frostbite. Still, the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the National Milk Producers Federation said such animal cruelty is unacceptable.

Why does that matter here in Minnesota?

Because Minnesota is one of four states to considering legislation that would make it illegal to make audio or video recordings at an animal facility without permission. It's an industry-led backlash against undercover videos like these made by animal rights groups that have exposed cases of alleged mistreatment. A similar video was released two years ago on a Minnesota poultry operation.

The video -- and the proposed laws -- have aroused emotions and heated debates across the country, including an editorial in the New York Times. That's because exposes like the calf bashing video are extremely effective. Last week cattle futures slumped in part because traders in Chicago said they feared that consumers might decide to avoid eating beef because of the video, which is truly horrific. You can watch it here if you have the stomach for it.

Though most of the attention has been focused on the animal facilities aspect of the Minnesota legislation, it would also outlaw videos and images of agricultural pollution in the state.

Now, the video has inspired a lot of discussion about the proper way to euthanize animals. Not surprisingly, there are right ways and wrong ways to do it, according to experts. My question is, would the owners of the E6 cattle farm have changed what they do without the investigation? And how many other facilities realized they were doing it the wrong way because of the controversy?

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