Iowa recently approved a bill that has outraged a lot of animal rights activists. And rightly so. House File 589 just passed in the state’s legislature and has reached the governor’s desk. If signed, the measure would prevent people from photographing or filming a factory farm without the owner’s consent. Essentially, it would ban the undercover work that has previously exposed animal abuse on factory farms. And now, that exposure could be a crime.
Activists groups like PETA, Mercy for Animals and the Humane Society are urging people to ask Governor Terry Branstad to veto the measure because approving it would only contribute to more animal abuse.
PETA wrote on their blog:
If this bill is signed, it could deprive animals of the already minimal protection that they have under the law and hide from the public the truth about what happens behind the closed doors of factory farms.
Matthew Dominguez, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States told the Huffington Post:
The intent behind the legislation is to put a chilling effect on whistleblowers on factory farms. It begs the question of, what exactly does animal agriculture have to hide?
And that’s a good point. If these factory farms were treating animals humanely and following all of the rules and regulations, then they shouldn’t care if someone goes undercover to film them. What’s wrong with documenting what is actually happening, unless it’s something the farms don’t want people to see?
By the way, even if you don’t live in Iowa, you should still be concerned about this bill because there’s a good chance that some of the meat you consume comes from there. In fact, Iowa is the nation’s leading pork and egg producer, and its farms typically have more than 19 million hogs and 54 million egg-laying chickens in barns and confinement buildings. Meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans, we should all care about where our food comes from and how it got to our plate.
These undercover films are what originally turned me into a vegetarian. Seeing the horrific abuse and treatment of some of these cows, pigs and chickens made me stop and really think, “What right do I have to contribute to that?” It’s important information to get out to the public so people can decide what’s right for them.
As expected though, some farmers are huge proponents of the bill. Iowa grain and hog farmer, John Weber says it’s just too easy for people to get the wrong message with these videos and photos.
It became clear to everyone that agriculture did need some type of protection because it was just too easy for people to infiltrate or to lie on job applications for the purpose of sabotaging a business.
I don’t think anyone would be sabotaging their business if there wasn’t anything to sabotage.
By the way, if this bill passes, lying on a job application to get access to a factory farm would be considered a serious misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $1,500 and imprisonment up to one year. A second offense could be punished with a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for two years.
Tell us what you think. Should undercover videos and photos be allowed at factory farms to help protect the animals?