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LawCrossing Feature

Iowa Makes it a Crime to Reveal the Truth by Teresa Cajot

As a Republican with strong ties to the state’s agricultural industry, Branstad readily signed House File 589, also known as the “ag gag”. It’s fair to note that Iowa is the nation’s leading pork and egg producer and Branstad obviously aims to promote that industry and encourage profits for his state. However, one would also expect him to demonstrate a level of concern for farm employees, animal welfare, and the environment, which are also heavily impacted by the new law.

But even beyond that, he owes the public an

and priorities that Iowans hold,” said Suzanne McMillan,

explanation for his decision, as it is a matter that

spokeswoman for the American Society for Prevention

impacts the nation as a whole. Branstad instead took

of Cruelty to Animals.

the easy way out and signed the controversial measure in a private ceremony, without ever supplying the

Similar legislation has been introduced in other states,

public with a statement concerning his decision.

including Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and Utah, but Iowa is the first state to actually

Those who passionately fought against the law deserve

sign it into law. According to Iowa’s law, anybody

more, particularly because the law has a history of

found guilty of misrepresenting themselves on a job

controversy behind it. When it was first introduced

application at a farm facility can face up to one year in

last year, the bill criminalized the production or

prison and fines up to $1,500 for the first offense.

distribution of photographs, videos, or written materials revealing animal abuse. Seen as an infringement on

Animal rights groups claim that the bill discourages

First Amendment rights, the legislation was amended

legitimate employees as well as others from revealing

and reintroduced. However, many claim that the new

humane violations, unsafe working conditions, and

version, which was rushed through both chambers

environmental problems. Senator Joe Seng, the bill’s

and then sent to Branstad’s desk, still violates US

sponsor, however, insists that the measure serves to

Constitutional rights. Furthermore, animal rights groups

provide a balance. Seng, a Davenport Democrat and

assert that the bill fails to safeguard the food supply,

veterinarian, is hopeful that the bill will be “a template

allowing for inhumane treatment and contamination in

for the whole United States.”

the slaughter process. However, Seng’s hopes for the entire nation are likely “Iowans deserve to know where their food is coming

to be dashed by the states that demand transparency

from, they deserve to know how the animals they’re

in animal agribusiness. After all, if the agriculture

consuming have been treated, they deserve to have

industry truly has nothing to hide, then undercover

the farms held accountable for the conditions in these

investigations should be a non-issue for farmers.

facilities. He’s really going against all those concerns


Iowa Makes it a Crime to Reveal the Truth  

Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad knows which side his bread is buttered on, so it should come as little surprise that he ignored animal rights...

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