Does it violate First Amendment rights to free speech? Or does it protect farmers? Proposed legislation in Iowa and Minnesota would criminalize undercover “whistleblower” photography and videos of animal abuse at farms and other animal use facilities.
In a new video, Animal Air asked two animal protection advocates and two animal agriculture representatives for their views on the bills.
Under Iowa’s pending bill House File 589, taking videos or photographs of such incidents could result in felony charges and prison time.
Sarah Hubbart, Animal Agriculture Alliance:
“We definitely see this as an important way to protect farmers from undercover extremists who have one goal in mind, and that’s to eliminate the entire animal ag industry.”
Wayne Pacelle, The Humane Society of the United States:
“It’s really an attempt to quash exposure of cruelty that’s occurring on factory farms.”
Aaron Putze, Iowa Soybean Association:
“Is this about actually reporting animal abuse or alleged animal abuse? Or is it about recording alleged animal abuse, many times in which the video can’t be proven or disproven?”
Nathan Runkle, Mercy for Animals:
“We believe there’s a strong case that it’s unconstitutional… It’s the public’s ability to know how animals are being treated that allows them to make informed decisions, and what the agribusiness industry is trying to do is silence whistleblowers.”
Watch the interviews.
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Katerina Lorenzatos Makris (a.k.a. Kathryn Makris) has written 18 books for major publishers and hundreds of articles for publications such as National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Petside.com, and two regional news wire services.
A cofounder of AnimalBeat.org, she holds a B.A. in Environmental Science Studies and a lifelong interest in animal issues.
Among her books are Your Adopted Dog: Everything You Need to Know about Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need (The Lyons Press), coauthored with Shelley Frost, and The Eco-Kids, a series of novels for tweens (Avon Books).
Her story “Small Change” placed as a finalist in The Bark magazine’s short fiction contest and appeared in the November 2010 issue.
She may be reached at [email protected]
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