Iowa (i/ˈaɪ.əwə/) is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the “American Heartland”. It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New France. After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt. Iowa is often known as the “Food Capital of the World”. However, Iowa’s economy, culture, and landscape are diverse.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Iowa’s agricultural economy transitioned to a diversified economy of advanced manufacturing, processing, financial services, biotechnology, and green energy production. Iowa is the 26th most extensive and the 30th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Des Moines. Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states to live in.
– Gameness til the End
By Kay Henderson | Reuters
DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Iowa Governor Terry Branstadsigned a bill that could result in penalties on animal rights activistswho pose as employees or attempt to get inside agricultural production facilities in other ways to expose possible animal cruelty.
The law has outraged a leading animal rights group known for its controversial tactics to expose animal cruelty, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which said it may mount a court challenge and threatened a possible boycott of Iowa.
The bill, labeled “Ag Gag” by opponents, was signed on Friday but news of Branstad’s approval did not emerge until Monday.
Iowa action could set a precedent for other agricultural states as it is the largest producer of corn, soybeans and has the largest number of hogs and the sixth largest cattle herd.
“If somebody comes on somebody else’s property through fraud or deception or lying, that is a serious violation of people’s rights and people should be held accountable for that,” Branstad told reporters on Monday.
The adoption of penalties in Iowa follows a series of cases where animal rights activists gained entrance to what they call “factory farms” including chicken and egg, hog and cattle production and processing facilities.
In one recent example, McDonald’s stopped buying from egg supplier Sparboe after an undercover investigation by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals found dead hens in cages and live chicks discarded in plastic bags along with dead one. Sparboe had unwittingly hired a Mercy activist to work at its facility.
Such actions have also prompted food companies to reconsider suppliers who confine hens laying eggs in small cages and sows in crates while they are nursing piglets.
“This is going to come back to haunt Iowa agriculture more than they could ever imagine,” said Dan Mathews, PETA’s senior vice president. “Iowa has singled itself out as the state with the most to be ashamed of and I don’t think that is a very strong message to send to consumers.”
Branstad said the new law would not affect whistleblowers, employees who see something and report it.
“Agriculture is an important part of our economy and farmers should not be subjected to people doing illegal, inappropriate things and being involved in fraud and deception in order to try to disrupt agricultural operations,” Branstad said.
Published March 02, 2012 | Associated Press
DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa became the first state Friday to make it a crime to surreptitiously get into a farming operation to record video of animal abuse.
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad signed the law despite protests, letters and campaigns launched on Twitter and Facebook by animal welfare groups that have used secretly taped videos to sway public opinion against what they consider cruel practices.
But Branstad’s action wasn’t a surprise. Iowa is the nation’s leading pork and egg producer, and the governor has strong ties to the state’s agricultural industry. He signed the measure in a private ceremony and issued no statement about his decision.
Legislatures in seven other states — Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Utah — have considered laws that would enhance penalties against those who secretly record video of livestock, though the efforts have stalled in some states.
Iowa’s law makes lying on a job application to get access to a farm facility a serious misdemeanor, punishable with up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,500. A second conviction carries harsher penalties. It won overwhelming approval in the Iowa Legislature on Tuesday.
Animal rights groups had called on Branstad to veto the bill, saying it ignores strong public sentiment that favors proper treatment of animals and methods of oversight that ensure safe food.
“Iowans deserve to know where their food is coming from, they deserve to know how the animals they’re consuming have been treated, they deserve to have the farms held accountable for the conditions in these facilities,” said Suzanne McMillan, spokeswoman for the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “He’s really going against all those concerns and priorities that Iowans hold.”
But John Weber, who grows grain and raises hogs near Dysart, about 100 miles northeast of Des Moines, said most farmers don’t abuse or mistreat their animals and there are systems in place to deal with mistreatment when it’s reported. He called the new law a good piece of legislation.
“It will give some protection for farmers from people who enter their facilities fraudulently,” he said.
Iowa farmers have felt under attack since activists distributed a series of videos that they claimed showed the mistreatment of animals, from pigs being beaten to chicks being ground up alive. The state typically has more than 19 million hogs and 54 million egg-laying chickens in barns and confinement buildings.
Sen. Joe Seng, a Davenport Democrat and veterinarian who sponsored the bill, said the measure strikes a balance by discouraging animal activists from sneaking into livestock facilities but not prohibiting someone who legitimately works there from reporting animal abuse.
The bill that passed was changed from an earlier version due to concerns that language making undercover video recording illegal could violate free speech protections in the U.S. Constitution.
Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, has said he hopes Iowa’s action can lead the way for other states to pass similar legislation.
The Utah House has approved a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to film on private agricultural property without the owner’s consent, and the measure is now awaiting debate in the Senate.