Industrial agriculture, like most powerful business interests, has a very effective lobbying organization – not only in DC, but also in state capitols around the country. Over the last few years they’ve been stung by surreptitious video recordings taken on a few farms showing examples of egregious animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and environmental degradation. See examples here, here, and here.
Needless to say, it makes them look bad, which of course they don’t like. Now let me state right from the start here that I and the organization I represent, Slow Food USA, are not at all anti-farmer, and firmly believe that a vast majority of America’s farmers are honest, hardworking, industrious and well-meaning keepers of their land and heritage. That said, there are exceptions, and like in any industry, a few bad apples can make the whole bunch look bad.
But instead of working hard to stop those few bad actors, Big Ag’s response is to try to criminalize the whistleblowers. And their first attempts, in four states (Florida, Minnesota, Iowa and most recently New York) are so far reaching as to beg obvious 1st amendment questions to say the least.
Take for example Iowa’s proposed bill, which as I type has passed the Republican controlled House and is pending in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Formally titled “SF431: An Act relating to offenses involving agricultural operations, and providing penalties and remedies,” it makes it a criminal offense to photograph, video-or-audio-record any farm without the owners consent.
Read more at KurtFriese.com