Iowa Legislature Passes Bill That Makes It Easier For Meat Industry To Hide Animal Abuse

It’s not easy being a whistleblower. They work hard and risk their safety for a cause. They do this because its the right thing to do and the people deserve to know the truth. Whether it’s crusading for food safety, environmental responsibility, animal rights, worker safety, or civil rights, activists have always been on the front line fighting for change. But lawmakers in Iowa want to prevent change. The Iowa Senate and House have passed House File 589, which makes it a crime for whistleblowers to document animal abuse in slaughterhouses and other food production facilities.

“Sec. 9. NEW SECTION. 717A.2A

Animal facility interference.

1. A person is guilty of animal facility
interference, if the person acts without
the consent of the owner of an animal
facility to willfully do any of the following:

a. Produce a record which reproduces
an image or sound occurring at the
animal facility as follows:

(1) The record must be created by the
person while at the animal facility.

(2) The record must be a reproduction
of a visual or audio experience occurring at the animal facility, including but not limited to a
photographic or audio medium.

b. Possess or distribute a record which
produces an image or sound occurring
at the animal facility which was produced as provided in paragraph “a”.”

In other words, if a whistleblower makes a record as proof of the abuse going on at an animal facility, that whistleblower has committed a crime punishable as a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for the second.

So from now on, an animal facility can treat animals as badly as they want and get away with it. Animals could be forced to languish in their own feces before being slaughtered and readied for your dinner table. Sick, right? The sad part is that this bill was passed in a bipartisan effort and now goes to the Governor, who is certain to sign it into law.

But this bill opens up a brand new avenue for conservatives to make it easier for various industries to get away with breaking the law. For example, if the oil industry wants to more easily get away with dumping chemicals into the river system, all lawmakers have to do is make it a crime for activists to document it. Now, you might be saying, ‘Well, the government can send an inspector to do it,’ but that’s a problem because many industries have the inspector agencies on the payroll, not to mention the fact that inspectors only perform an evaluation every so often and normally give the industry notice of their impending arrival some time in advance. That means the industry can prepare for the visit and cover up and play ball until the inspector leaves. That’s not exactly a good fail safe. Plus, what stops lawmakers from labeling inspectors, scientists, and other experts as ‘activists?’ An activist seeks to catch law breakers, and documenting infractions is a good way to inform the public. By passing this bill, lawmakers are effectively silencing activists from blowing the whistle on companies that do despicable things.

Iowa is practically banning people from knowing where their food comes from and what is in it. Animal facilities could do anything they want to the animals under their supervision, from injecting them with chemicals, to slaughtering them in unsanitary conditions. They could slaughter and process a sick animal for human consumption. It’s really scary. It should make every American think more than twice before taking a bite out of their hamburger or pork chop. This bill protects an industry from the constant oversight it should be forced to undergo every day. Nothing is more important than making sure that our food is safe for eating and that includes making sure the animals we eat are treated well. And without whistleblowers, that will be more difficult to guarantee.