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In Iowa, exposing animal cruelty could be a crime

The disease is spreading

A similar measure was introduced in Florida by state Senator Jim Norman (R-Tampa) earlier this month, but hasn’t moved as fast as the Iowa bill. Like that measure, it says:

“A person who enters onto a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree”.

For more on the Florida bill (including ethics allegations against its author), check out the full report at HealthFreedoms.org.

The cure is spreading, too

Why here, why now? Probably panic. As Danny Jensen points out at Change.org,

Several recent undercover investigations have proven critical to alerting the public and lawmakers to disturbingly unsanitary conditions and horrendous incidents of animal abuse on factory farms.

Just before this past Thanksgiving, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a damning report of Minnesota’s Willmar Poultry Company, which supplies nearly 50 percent of  whole turkeys to conventional U.S. supermarkets. The report was produced after an undercover investigator worked at the factory farm and exposed its gruesome conditions.

And in December of 2010, the HSUS wrapped up a secret investigation of a factory pig farm owned by Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer. Video footage revealed incidents of animal abuse and hazardous food safety violations that pose risks to human health.

And writing at AnimalBlawg, Jacqueline McMahon adds,

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.

“Thankfully, because of whistleblowers and others doing undercover work, we are finding out about a lot of the abuses that are taking place in animal agriculture – and some of those abuses have just been awful,” Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said during a conference call with reporters.

Via BleedingHeartland, Des Moines-based advertising specialist Michael Libbie considers this bill a big public relations mistake:

[P]assing such legislation controlling and making the filming and distribution illegal makes ag look….bad.  Very bad.
…At a time when agriculture needs more, not less, friends and at a time when so many people have horrible misconceptions about farming and nearly zero relationships with farmers and ranchers…this bill is ill advised.  Bad idea for agriculture, bad idea for farmers and ranchers….this will only fuel the fires of those who already think animal agriculture is evil.  And for those who don’t, they  just might start wondering, “So, what is going on they don’t want me to know about?”

Whatever you think of factory farming, it’s pretty amazing that big agribusiness is willing to go this far to protect business practices that are totally indefensible.

What can you do?

If you live in Iowa, write your state senator and tell them to oppose HF 589 and SF 431. The ASPCA has a webpage you can use to look up your senator.

You can write to you Iowa senator via this Mercy For Animals action page. Plug in your zip code if you live in Florida, too. Tell them to target those who abuse animals, not those who expose the abuses.

(Image of factory farmed chickens AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Farm Sanctuary)

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