Ag Gag 2011: What Does Agribusiness Have to Hide in Iowa?
Founder of Food Democracy Now!
If Iowa is considered the belly of the beast of industrial agriculture, then the Iowa state capitol is the part of the animal that drains the swamp. After all, Iowa is the place where Iowa legislators have made it possible to produce11.3 hogs per person annually and created some of themost polluted rivers and streams contributing to the Dead Zone in the nation due to continued poor legislation and failed regulatory oversight.
Last year Iowa’s modern agricultural practices were made famous by legendary food safety violator Jack DeCoster, who is still in business after a 500-million egg recall due to salmonella last year that sickened more than 1,500 people in 23 states. This year Iowa’s state legislators are about to pass a bill that would make it illegal for anyone to take a photo of his “farms” or any other farms and fields in Iowa. Even though some of the worst animal welfare abuses in U.S. history have taken place under the roofs of Jack DeCoster’s hundreds of industrial animal confinements, (in 2010 the state of Maine he was fined more than $130,000 for egregious animal cruelty violations that took place at DeCoster Egg Farm), Iowa lawmakers are willing to offer immunity to offenders like him from being recorded and penalize those that would blow the whistle on those who abuse animal livestock i.e. our food.
Incredibly, House File 589, which I call, “The Jack DeCoster Animal Abuser Protection Act of 2011”, passed the Iowa House on March 17th by a vote of 66 to 27, despite the fact that 65% of Iowans oppose the bill. Unfortunately for consumers across the country versions of this bill have been popping up in states like Minnesota and Florida, where both bills recently failed to pass.