[Update] Iowa Senate votes on bad “Ag gag” bill

[Update] Iowa Senate votes on bad “Ag gag” bill

Updated– The Democrat-controlled Senate passed “AgGag” in a vote of 40-10. The same day, the House reviewed the amended bill and passed it in a 69-28. The bill now goes to the Gov’s desk to be signed into law. Read our report – Senate sells out Iowa to factory farm lobby.

HF 589 is an attempt by the factory farm industry to criminalize basic watchdog functions that everyday folks have to hold factory farms accountable for violations they commit and expose animal abuse.

Iowans need to be able to record violations that occur, such as dead hogs being piled (photo) and left for days or manure spills and other manure violations. Documentation has been critical in getting the Iowa DNR and other agencies to take enforcement action.

 

Update 1/30/12 – Vote deferred for now: The Senate delayed bringing this bill up for a vote last week.  We have been hearing that amendments are being seriously considered that will gut the bill and make it significantly weaker.  We still think this bill is a waste of time and should be dropped completely.

Update 2/3/12 – Local papers chiming in against Ag Gag: Our favorite comes from the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

 

“We believe throwing a criminal net this broad and potentially damaging to head off a public relations problem is the wrong use of legislative authority. … Lawmakers should not seek to create bubbles of special protection for certain industries, no matter how important or influential.”

Update 2/7/12 – Amendment to gut it being filed: Senators are filing an amendment (S-5004) to gut HF 589. It strikes most of the bill including sections banning video/photos of factory farms. It states, however, that a person who receives employment or enters a factory farm under “false pretenses” will be convicted of a serious misdemeanor for the first offense, aggravated misdemeanor for second offense.  It also says if someone “aids and abets” someone or knows that some committed this fraud, they are also guilty.

 

If/when the bill moves, it will be this section of the bill that passes. Though it guts the original bill, we still say this bill is redundant and a waste of time. It is a scare tactic designed to discourage whistleblowers and anyone speaking out about animal abuse/ factory farm violations.

The “Ag gag” bill is an assault on the first amendment rights of citizens who speak out about factory farms and their huge negative impact on our communities.

And, it’s just another power grab by the factory farm industry to carve out exemptions for itself that no other industry has.

It should be stopped today, and legislators should focus on getting Iowans back to work, bolstering vital public services, and standing up for clean air and water.

Details on HF 589 – the “Ag gag” bill:

  •  It criminalizes “tampering” with a factory farm – damaging a factory farm, killing livestock, theft, or disruption of operations. This is already illegal and is redundant.
  •  It criminalizes “interference” with a factory farm – videoing or photographing of a factory farm and violations occurring on a factory farm would become a misdemeanor. Entering onto a factory farm (which is already trespassing) is also included as interference.
  • It criminalizes “fraud” of a factory farm. If someone gains access to a factory farm through false pretenses, they would be charged with a misdemeanor. Again – this is redundant. It is already against the law to seek employment by misrepresenting yourself.
  •  It allows a factory farm to bring civil actions (sue) against anyone who commits these acts for damages up to 3 times the amount of actual damage. This section has the potential to allow factory farms to sue everyday citizens who document manure spills, dead livestock violations, and other violations that may occur at factory farms.
  •  This bill applies these same violations to “crop operations” which is loosely defined as a location where a crop is maintained… a crop field, orchard, nursery, greenhouse, garden, elevator, seedhouse, barn, or warehouse.

You can read the full detailed bill here.

Stand up for clean air and water and ag policies that put the common good ahead of the corporate few.

 

 

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