18 Mar 2012 - Kudos to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

It is a new law in Iowa that will go into effect July 1st of this year, and as is the case with most new laws, it is not without controversy. Supporters of the legislation call it the “Agriculture Protection Bill”. Opponents of the legislation call it the “Ag Gag Bill”. Before I comment on the controversy, here is the information on the bill.

On March 2nd, Governor Terry Branstad, who does have an agricultural background, signed the bill into law after it received strong support in the Iowa legislature; a 40 to 10 approval vote in the Senate, the House vote 69 to 28 in favor of the bill.

The Iowa measure establishes a new penalty for lying on a job application to get access to a farm or ranch, making it a serious misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $1,500 and imprisonment of up to one year. A second conviction would be an aggravated misdemeanor, which would be a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to two years.

The purpose of the bill, according to the supporters, is to keep people who represent the animal welfare groups from getting employees on to a livestock or poultry farm, to then secretly record videos to ultimately prove animal abuse. We have certainly seen that happen in several instances; animal rights people lying on application forms to get access and then just wait and hope they will find livestock or poultry being mistreated.

I have a problem with those who are opposed to the Iowa law and this includes some farmers who say “Well, if we have this law, that just raises the question in the minds of people ‘what are they hiding?’ and it just gives animal rights people more ammunition to use against livestock producers.” But in response to that, I ask what about property rights? As a personal property owner, shouldn’t I have the right to tell people they can’t come into my backyard or my home and take photographs without my permission and why shouldn’t a farmer or rancher have that same right? I don’t even have to imagine how quickly police would be called if I went into the yard or home of the leaders of PETA or HSUS and started shooting video.

Finally, knowing what we can do today with digital equipment and Photo-Shop, you can doctor videos and photos to portray what ever you want them to portray. And I don’t think animal rights extremists would hesitate for a moment to use those tools to do just that.

So, a tip of the hat to the Iowa Legislature and Governor Branstad for passing The Agriculture Protection Bill.

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