Well, there go the rights of farmed animals and whistleblowers in Iowa. On March 17, 2011, the Republican-dominated Iowa House of Representative voted 65-27 to approve a bill criminalizing secretly recording factory farm practices. Under the bill, House File 589 § 9, drolly named “Animal Facility Interference,” any person who produces, possesses or distributes an audio or visual recording of an animal facility without the consent of the owner is guilty of either a class D felony or aggravated misdemeanor. The bill still has to pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate before officially becoming Iowa law, but with similar proposals popping up in other states including Florida, the idea of prohibiting these exposé recordings is picking up steam.
Passage of the bill would deliver a serious blow to the mission of numerous animal rights organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States and PETA, which often use these types of videos to reveal unsanitary and atrocious conditions on factory farms. The Humane Society’s senior director, Paul Shapiro, reported that “secretly filmed videos… have led to plant closures and the recall of millions of pounds of meat.” Similarly, PETA has had great success against companies, including McDonalds, Safeway, Burger King, and Wendy’s, by combining the release of secret video footage with bold public relations campaigns.
The manager of Iowa’s bill, Rep. Annette Sweeney, stated that she hopes the bill will encourage and empower people to report cruel practices to authorities rather than making them public. Lobbyists from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association further expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of remedies currently available to farmers whose facilities are infiltrated. Democrat Jim Lykam was not persuaded by the concerns, stating instead that “good livestock operations should have no fear of undercover investigations.” Amen, Rep. Lykam. Let’s hope your colleagues in the Senate are similarly dissuaded.
Filed under: animal welfare, factory farms Tagged: | animal abuse, animal advocacy, animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal law, animal welfare, criminalizing video-recording, factory farms, farmed animals, First Amendment, HSUS, industrial farming, Iowa, Iowa House File 589 § 9, PETA