By Monica Eng
Over the last few years, gruesome undercover videos taken in factory farms have proven powerful contributors to food recalls, public outrage and subsequent changes in the public and private sector. This includes McDonald’s pledge last month to stop using producers who cage sows in gestation crates.
But those videos may also have contributed to a raft of so called “ag-gag” bills that have popped up around the nation again criminalizing unauthorized entrance and photography in industrial livestock operations.
Efforts to stop the bills has been fairly successful in the past, which may be why so many were caught off guard by the swift passage of House File 589, through the Iowa legislature this week. The bill is now on Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk waiting for a signature.
But activists have moved quickly, too. Thursday, Chicago-based Mercy For Animals, which has carried out a number of such undercover investigations, organized a protest at the State House in Des Moines where dozens of gagged and blindfolded protesters stood with signs depicting caged livestock.
Governor Branstad’s office told the Tribune it is still “reviewing the bill but was encouraged by the broad bi-partisan support it received in both the House and Senate.”
Animal rights and sustainable ag advocates are anxiously awaiting Brandstad’s decision as similar bills are pending in eight states, including Illinois.
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