Iowa may be on the verge of passing a bill to make illegal the production, distribution, and possession of video or picture footage taken inside a factory farm without the owner’s permission.
Because factory farms are under-regulated and closed to the outside world, undercover investigators from animal rights groups sometimes take a job at a farm, only to document any health or animal treatment violations to release to the authorities and the public.
That sort of publicity is obviously not in the company’s best interests, but it IS in the public’s best interests: unsanitary conditions in factory farms can lead to outbreaks of food poisoning; and it’s in the animals’ best interests to have their living conditions improved. Happier animals also produce better food, but that’s a different argument.
Big agriculture is a huge industry in the Midwest, so it makes sense that legislators are pressured by lobbyists and constituents to support factory farming. According to Food & Water Watch, Iowa ranks first in the country in number of factory-farmed layer hens (averaging 1.3 million hens per farm–more than double the national average), first in factory-farmed hogs, and fourth in large cattle feedlots. Florida and Minnesota are considering similar bills. These bills are detrimental to food safety, and therefore public health, and should not be passed.
This quote from a New York Times article sums it up nicely:
“If they have nothing to hide and they are operating ethically, they should have no fear,” [Senator Matthew W. McCoy, Democrat of Des Moines] said.