Attention all animal agriculture personnel — producers, employees, veterinarians, allied industry, bankers, accountants — if you work in or around animal agriculture, you need to pay attention.

On March 16, at 9 p.m. (CST), HBO is going to broadcast a “documentary” that ultimately focuses on the lack of animal cruelty laws that apply to “industrialized factory farm” animal production, and the need for people to speak for animal and get more legislation passed. .

Now, if you don’t have HBO, find someone who does and invite yourself over for a viewing. Warning: It is not pretty.

The 83-minute film is called “Death on a Factory Farm” and focuses on the undercover investigation of animal cruelty on an Ohio hog farm, and the court trial that followed. The Human Farming association hired an independent animal rights investigator to go undercover to work on the farm, to shoot video and collect information for a court case. That process, which began in February 2006, ran for six weeks.

I’m not looking to boost HBO’s ratings for this film, but you need to see it. If you miss the first airing, check the listings because HBO will be running it another 19 times, through the first of April.

As for actions on the farm, you can see for yourself — many of the practices were extreme and unacceptable. What’s more the workers (and owners) needed some serious attitude adjustment in terms of animal handling and treatment. In the end, 10 animal cruelty charges were filed, five were dismissed before the June 2007 trial and just one count of “improper carrying or transporting animals” was applied.

But most importantly, all of animal agriculture needs to understand that this is not about one farm; it’s about an industry, and not just the pork industry — it’s about animal agriculture. “The farm is typical of the industrialized ‘factory’ farms,” according to a news release from HBO’s PR agency. 

The film’s most dominant message is: There are no laws to protect farm animals, only recommendations and guidelines, and even the industry’s own experts can’t agree on those. The resounding implication is that “the animals can’t speak for themselves” so the public must through legislation.

In Washington State a lawsuit has been filed that addressed animal cruelty laws for farm animals. The Humane Society of the United States is working on expanding similar actions as California’s Proposition 2 laws to Midwest states, including Illinois and Ohio, and is looking to work on Congress for similar federal legislation. 

Again, this is not a one-industry issue, and it’s long overdue that animal agriculture seriously and cohesively works together on this subject.