A proposed bill that would ban Iowa farm workers from taking undercover video, photos or audio of animal agriculture producers is being criticized by two of the state’s legislators.  Announced in a joint news conference, Rep. Jim Lykam and Sen. Matt McCoy challenged that the bill – House File 589 – would weaken consumer confidence in Iowa’s food products and hurt the state’s economy.

If passed, the bill would make it illegal to secretly record and distribute undercover videos and punish those who take jobs on farms only to gain access to record animals’ treatment. Penalties include up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $7,500.  

The measure was approved in the Iowa House in a 65-27 vote on March 17. It is currently pending in the Iowa Senate.

The Des Moines Register reports that Rep. Lykam and Sen. McCoy question whether the bill will force consumers to ask what producers are hiding.

 “If Iowa approves a gag order when it comes to food production, consumers nationwide and worldwide – the people the Iowa economy depends upon to buy our products – will logically ask themselves: “What do Iowa food producers have to hide?” Sen. McCoy said.

While supporters of the bill want to block negative publicity in Iowa’s livestock industry caused by undercover media, opponents such as Rep. Lykam and Sen. McCoy don’t think the bill will protect Iowa’s agriculture.  

“Creating an “Ag Gag” order on the employees of the livestock industry threatens food safety and raises sanitation concerns,” Rep. Lykam said.

For Sen. McCoy, the bill should not protect the few bad animal producers in the state.

“Their deplorable track record is a black mark on every Iowa business that produces or sells food,” Sen. McCoy said. “This terrible track record of abuse is the strongest case possible against the “Ag Gag” rule and for increased transparency and accountability.”

Source: The Des Moines Register, The Associated Press