Big Ag Wants Government Ban on Cameras in Factory Farms

Mar 15, 2011
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

Every Tuesday, we work with the deep-thinkers over at SoulPancake to choose a TakePart story and discuss the Life’s Big Question it brings to mind. This week we look at agribusiness and our rights. Look for this week's Big Question at the end of the story, then join the conversation!

If House File 589 passes, what&39;s behind closed barn doors stays behind closed barn doors in Iowa. (Photo: Planet Green)

Cows on their knees being shocked and beaten. Pigs hit and dragged across the floor. Chicks ground up alive or left to suffocate in a disposal bin. Such are the images captured when animal-rights activists gained employment on a factory farm in Iowa with the intent of recording abuses there.

A new bill in Iowa seeks to make that undercover strategy punishable by law. But which part of the situation deserves a trip to the courtroom? The filming and distribution of video content—or the animal abuse?

House File 589, which was passed with strong support by agriculture committees in both Iowa's House and Senate, will be debated on the house floor Tuesday afternoon. If passed, "undercover investigators who take agricultural jobs to gain access to animals and record their mistreatment, will face penalties up to a $7500 fine and five years in prison," reports

Animal-rights activists point out the obvious: that the bill will silence whistleblowers.

"It's very transparent what agribusiness is attempting to do here," said Bradley Miller, national director of the Humane Farming Association, according to the Huffington Post. "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."

But with an agricultural industry that was responsible for $24.7 billion in direct sales in 2008, Iowa's lawmakers would need to take a brave and principled stand to vote the bill down.

This week's Big Question from the deep-thinkers at SoulPancake: Should corporate America be allowed to lie to you in the name of privacy?

Should big business be allowed to lie to you? Join the conversation!

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