February 29, 2012
Iowa Governor Urged to Veto “Ag Gag” Bill
HF 589 Criminalizes Investigations of Animal Cruelty and Other Serious Crimes at Factory Farms
The Humane Society of the United States urged Gov. Terry Branstad to veto notorious Iowa “ag gag” bill, HF 589, that would criminalize the investigation of animal cruelty, worker abuse, sexual harassment and other serious crimes at farming operations.
“The intent of this bill is simple: shield animal agribusiness from public scrutiny by punishing whistleblowers and protecting animal abusers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States in a letter urging Gov. Branstad to reject the bill. “By signing this bill into law, animal agribusiness will have unbridled and unchecked power over worker safety, public health and animal welfare.”
On Tuesday, the Iowa state legislature rushed the bill through both the Senate and House of Representatives at a speed rarely found in the legislative process. Normally, deliberations of such consequence take weeks, or at least several days.
Critics question the constitutionality of HF 589 as an infringement on the First Amendment, and a broad spectrum of national interest groups have spoken out against state ag gag bills, including organizations for animal protection, civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, food justice, legal, workers’ rights and First Amendment interests.
Undercover investigations in Iowa over the past three years have consistently revealed alarming conditions on factory farms, causing a public backlash and demands for higher standards on farms.
Undercover investigations have also played a vital role on the national level in exposing animal welfare and food safety issues related to industrialized agriculture. In 2008, an HSUS undercover investigation of a slaughter plant in Chino, Calif. resulted in the largest meat recall in the nation’s history. The meat suppliers faced a $150 million lawsuit for sending meat from sick and injured animals to the federal school lunch program and the investigation revealed horrific animal abuse.
- Last year, special interests in four states succeeded in having ag gag bills introduced. None passed.
- A similar bill was defeated in Florida in January 2012, but other ag gag bills remain active in Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, New York and Indiana.
Anna West, email@example.com, 301-258-1518