Iowa ag industry, lawmakers try to limit secret videos

Iowa's agriculture industry is pushing legislation that would make it illegal for animal rights activists to produce and distribute such images, Bloomberg Business reports.

Agriculture committees in the Iowa House and Senate have approved a bill that would prohibit such recordings and punish people who take agriculture jobs only to gain access to animals to record their treatment. Proposed penalties include fines of up to $7,500 and up to five years in prison.

Doug Farquhar, program director for environmental health at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Iowa would be the first state to approve such restrictions but Florida is considering similar legislation. The Iowa measure was introduced after a number of group released videos showing cows being shocked, pigs beaten and chicks ground up alive.

"It's very transparent what agribusiness is attempting to do here," said Bradley Miller, national director of the Humane Farming Association, a California-based group dedicated to protecting farm animals from abuse. "They're trying to intimidate whistleblowers and put a chill on legitimate anti-cruelty investigations. Clearly the industry feels that it has something to hide or it wouldn't be going to these extreme and absurd lengths."

Legislators and farming groups respond that they're only trying to prevent people from fraudulently seeking jobs in order to shoot videos that may give an unfair perspective on livestock operations. Rather than videotape and publicize abuse, supporters of the Iowa measure said people should report wrongs they see and work through proper channels to prevent them.

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