States Seek to Ban Secret Videos

In the wake of bad publicity from films like Food Inc., several states are attempting to limit undercover agricultural activism. Most recently, Iowa proposed legislation would ban the production and distribution of secret videos filmed on farms or ranches. The bill would punish individuals who took agricultural jobs for the purposes of producing undercover videos with up to a $7,500 fine and five years in prison. This legislation was introduced after animal rights activists released several shocking videos of animal abuse in Iowa farms.

Supporters of the legislation argue that these film offer biased and one-sided perspectives of agricultural life. Many claim that animal rights activists are fraudulently seeking jobs and do little to protect the rights of animals outside of making inflammatory videos. Kevin Vinchattle, chief executive officer of the Iowa Poultry Association, claimed that the bill targets activists whose only real agenda is to drive animal agriculture out of business and that the legislation is merely protecting agricultural interests.

Others disagree, criticizing the proposed legislation as intimidation. The Humane Society described the proposed bill as draconian, while the Humane Farming Association claimed that the purpose of the bill was to intimidate whistle-blowers. Others have argued that the repressiveness of the bill indicates that farm lobbyists have something to hide.

This legislation is indicative of what seems to be a growing national trend. Bills introduced in the Florida State Senate would criminalize taking pictures or videos of farms or agricultural operations without written consent from the owner. The Florida bill would punish violators with up to thirty years in prison.

At present, neither bill has passed its respective legislature.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer