Thursday, June 11, 2020

Iowa passes its third 'ag-gag' law, focused on trespassing

On Friday, Iowa state legislators passed a bill that would penalize undercover animal-rights activists who expose conditions on factory farms, buried in an agriculture bill that mostly addressed pandemic-related concerns. On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed it.

The law, sought by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and sponsored by State. Sen. Ken Rozenboom (a factory farm owner), is the third try for a so-called "ag-gag" law. "The first version was overturned on First Amendment grounds in January 2019, and the second was put on hold while a constitutional challenge moves through the courts," Alleen Brown reports for The Intercept.

The law establishes a new crime, "food operation trespass," that would penalize anyone who enters without permission a place where meat is processed or sold, or any place where a "food animal" is kept. "A first-time trespasser would now face up to two years of incarceration and a fine of up to $6,250," Brown reports. "If they entered a farm without authorization a second time, they could be charged with a felony carrying up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $7,500."

At least two dozen other states have introduced similar bills; in a handful of states, the laws have stuck, and in Idaho, Kentucky, Utah and Wyoming they've been overturned by courts, Brown reports.

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