Whether shot by animal rights activists or news organizations, shooting the videos would be crimes under proposed law meant to protect state's largest businesses – like Agriprocessors was – from unwanted exposure.
Iowa legislature to contemplate bill on undercover videos
By Rita Jane Gabbett • Meatingplace.com
Iowa State Representative Annette Sweeney has introduced a bill that would set penalties for activists who gain employment on farms or in processing facilities under false pretense and secretly take videos.
The bill, H.F. 431, would define shooting undercover video as “animal facility interference” that would be considered an aggravated misdemeanor on the first conviction and a felony for second and subsequent convictions.
A person obtaining access to an animal facility by false pretenses for the purpose of committing an act not authorized by the owner of the animal facility would be guilty of “animal facility fraud” with conviction also considered an aggravated misdemeanor on the first conviction and a felony for second and subsequent convictions.
"We applaud Representative Sweeney's leadership on this important issue, and we encourage our members in Iowa to contact their representatives about H.F. 431," the Animal Agriculture Alliance was quoted by Drover’s CattleNetwork as saying in a statement.
A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the Iowa State Senate.
If this passes into law, I imagine the first group or news organization caught filming will appeal any conviction, and eventually the US Supreme Court (if not Iowa's supreme court) will rule that this law unconstitutional.
The bill itself is an embarrassment to a state that has had many embarrassments in the past few years.
Its sponsor, Annette Sweeney is, not surprisingly, a Republican with many years experience working in the cattle industry, including heading the Iowa Angus Association.
There have been a series of shocking videos released in the past few years of animal abuse in slaughterhouses (including but not limited to Agriprocessors) and corporate farms, including one showing farm workers prodding and rolling a sick cow with a fork lift. Many of these undercover videos – including the first Agriprocessors undercover video – resulting in USDA enforcement actions against the slaughterhouses and farms for violations of the Humane Slaughter Act and animal welfare statutes.
And this – along with the much deserved bad publicity – is what this former cattle industry lobby head seeks to prevent.
Florida has a similar bill that has been proposed. It's sponsor is also a Republican, this one tainted with potential ethics violations and an FBI probe of his finances.
People think of farming as a family business. But in reality, most farms are owned or controlled by large corporations like Monsanto, and most slaughterhouses are controlled by large corporations like Swift. The day of the family farm has long since passed.
Not surprisingly, these huge agribusiness corporations pour money into our elections, and that accounts, in part if not in whole, for the two bills mentioned above.
[Hat Tip: The Other DK.]