States Crack Down On Animal Rights Activists And Their Undercover Videos
March 3, 2012
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad signed the law despite protests, letters and campaigns launched on Twitter and Facebook by animal welfare groups that have used secretly taped videos to sway public opinion against what they consider cruel practices.
Iowa farmers have felt under attack since activists distributed a series of videos that they claimed showed the mistreatment of animals, from pigs being beaten to chicks being ground up alive. The state typically has more than 19 million hogs and 54 million egg-laying chickens in barns and confinement buildings.
Sen. Joe Seng, a Davenport Democrat, and veterinarian who sponsored the bill, said the measure strikes a balance by discouraging animal activists from sneaking into livestock facilities but not prohibiting someone who legitimately works there from reporting animal abuse.
The bill that passed was changed from an earlier version due to concerns that language making undercover video recording illegal could violate free speech protections in the U.S. Constitution.
Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, has said he hopes Iowa’s action can lead the way for other states to pass similar legislation. The Utah House has approved a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to film on private agricultural property without the owner’s consent, and the measure is now awaiting debate in the Senate.
What You Can Do:
Stop the Ag-Gag – Harmful and unconstitutional whistleblower-suppression legislation is now being considered in the following states. Please take action below:
• Illinois: HB 5143 – Take Action
• New York: S 5172 – Take Action
• Utah: HB 187 – Take Action
• Indiana: SB 184 (bill pending)
• Minnesota: HF 1369/ SF 1118 (bill pending)
• Missouri: SB 695 (bill pending)
• Nebraska: LB 915 (bill pending)
Please send your comments to the governor’s office by clicking here.
Dear Gov. Terry Branstad,
A lot of people are very disappointed with your decision to make filming abuse in farms illegal. Not only will this Ag-Gag law allow farmers hide the suffering and pain these animals go through, but the freedom of journalists, employees and the public will be censored.
By siding with those who seek to keep Iowa’s farming practices hidden from public view and signing this bill into law, you have created a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity in the state.
The public have a right to know what goes on in these facilities. You have just given permission to not only continue, but allow and tell farmers that everything exposed up to now wasn’t legitimate. Your close ties within the industry obviously affected your decision.
Please reconsider the Ag-Gag law, which will only perpetuate animal suffering.