March 2nd, 2012 12:15 EST
'Mercy For Animals' Condemns the Passage of Iowa Ag-Gag Bill
On 28th of February, 2012, the Iowa State Senate passed S5004, commonly known as the "Ag-Gag Bill," by a vote of 40-10. The following statement can be attributed to Nathan Runkle, Mercy For Animals` executive director:
This is a very sad day for American consumers.
Today the Iowa legislature bowed to the pressure of corporate factory farming interests and failed the American people. Iowa`s ag-gag bill shields animal abusers from public scrutiny and prosecutes brave whistleblowers who dare to speak out against cruelty to animals, corporate corruption, dangerous working conditions, environmental violations, and food safety concerns.
This bill is patently un-American, dangerous and a broad government overreach.
Clearly Iowa`s factory farmers have a lot to hide from the American people if they are willing to go to such despicable lengths to conceal their cruel and abusive practices. Mercy For Animals` recent undercover investigations at Iowa`s corporate-owned factory farms and hatcheries have revealed that animal abuse runs rampant. Hidden-camera video at Iowa factory farms has exposed animals crammed into filthy cages so small they cannot even turn around or walk, and workers mutilating animals without painkillers, throwing live animals in grinding machines, and mercilessly beating, kicking, and throwing animals.
Not a single federal law protects farmed animals from abuse or neglect during their lives on factory farms and Iowa specifically excludes farmed animals from protection against even some of the worst forms of factory farm cruelty.
Iowa has some of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation. Lawmakers should be focusing on strengthening these pathetic laws, not silencing whistleblowers who expose animal abuse or other serious issues involving the safety and security of the American food supply.
This bill will create a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity on Iowa`s factory farms. Not only will this bill perpetuate animal abuse, it also threatens workers` rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply.
Undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals and other groups have led to landmark corporate animal welfare policy reforms, new and improved laws to protect farmed animals and the environment, felony convictions of animal abusers, increased consumer protection and food safety initiatives, and the closure of particularly corrupt facilities. Without undercover investigations, there are oftentimes no effective watchdogs protecting animals from egregious cruelty in these facilities.
This ag-gag bill is out of step with most Americans` values. A recent poll conducted by Lake Research Partners shows that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigations of farms by animal welfare organizations, including 54 percent who strongly support the efforts. And nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose making undercover investigations of animal abuse on farms illegal. Additionally, the majority of Iowa voters oppose prohibiting whistleblowers from taking photographs or video footage at animal facilities, according to a survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.
Iowa legislators should be ashamed of themselves for bowing to pressure from corporate interests while turning a blind eye to American consumers and animal abuse.
For more information on Mercy For Animals undercover investigations at Iowa factory farms, and to view hidden camera footage from these cases, please visit MercyForAnimals.org/Investigations.