The Agribusiness Lobby Wins Again

Jacqueline McMahon

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.

10 Responses

  1. This is disturbing beyond words . . . what people don’t realize is this affects EVERYONE not just animal rights activists. This is ANOTHER freedom taken away.

    There are those who will choose to face the consequence and continue photographing and filming the horrors of animal abuse. As with all abuse, it can only exist behind closed doors.

    Thank you for keeping us updated on this issue.

  2. Exactly…if going to authorites worked than why would people risk photographing & filiming animal abuse? Because going to authorities doesn’t work. The only way things change is if it is made public. Going to authorities will only keep it more hush, hush because the ulmighty dollar is involved. Their comments are just plain BS! It won’t stop the only people who care & can make a difference.

  3. It’s incredible that people can not only care so little about animal welfare, but also that they can care so little about what they put inside their bodies. Why would anyone want to be a less informed consumer? It’s tragic that whistle blowers are seen as the enemy. Proof that factory farmers honestly know that their practices are cruel.

  4. “Secrecy is the freedom tyrants dream of.”
    ~Bill Moyers

  5. Factory farm owners are the very epitome of animal cruelty. These people are only interested in animals as a commodity. They could care less about these animals as living, breathing beings who feel pain and fear. The typical Iowan mindset towards animals and their suffering is indifference. All these people think about is money and their incessant appetite for animal flesh. The authorities in Iowa have the same mindsets, as do the politicians. These people know that what they do is cruel. They don’t care. They don’t want others to know, so they convinced their bought and paid for politicians to make laws to keep their filthy actions secret. Well, I’ve news for them – what goes on in these animal hells isn’t secret anymore. We who love animals won’t be stopped or silenced by this garbage legislation.These people are mega animal abusers. They should be prosecuted, fined and jailed. We have to make sure that the general public continues to learn of the atrocities going on by some of the most hard-hearted people I’ve ever heard of. Shame, shame on Iowa and it’s miserable government!!!

  6. Do any of these corrupt Iowa politicians own/have a stake in these farms/ “animal processing facilities”. Because then there is a conflict of interest and the law is not valid.

    Also I believe only people who follow a vegan/vegetarian diet have any right to speak up on this issue. Because if you are a consumer, then you are a supporter of this cruel industry.

  7. […] photos remind me of a post here that discusses a recent bill moving through Iowa to criminalize the secret recording of factory […]

  8. […] of the Hy-Line International hatchery in Spencer, Iowa has generated over 2 million views.  Iowa recently passed a law criminalizing the secret recording of factory farms in attempt to ban the promulgation such videos. […]

  9. […] of the Hy-Line International hatchery in Spencer, Iowa has generated over 2 million views. Iowa recently passed a law criminalizing the secret recording of factory farms in attempt to ban the promulgation such videos. […]

  10. […] writing at AnimalBlawg, Jacqueline McMahon adds, The Humane Society’s senior director, Paul Shapiro, reported […]

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