Iowa is the undisputed national leader in livestock production. Our economy has, without a doubt, weathered many of the more severe economic downturns experienced by other states because of a strong and thriving agricultural industry.
It is important that productivity is not hampered by negative events and publicity that could put our livestock producers in a bad light. Currently Iowa Code protects grain and livestock farmers from external influences who intentionally damage crops or livestock.
Throughout the United States agriculture is facing a new problem and that is persons gaining access to agricultural facilities under false pretenses. Several articles have documented these activities at turkey, hog and poultry facilities.
These incidents most commonly happen when an individual poses as a job applicant and is hired after they falsely represent themselves. The person may then damage equipment or incorrectly use the facility as well as video conditions at the facility that may not be representative of the operation. In addition, such a person could introduce a disease that may result in the devastation of the livestock population at the facility or actually abuse animals themselves to create videos to be used against the owner of the facility.
Senate File 431 and House File 589 would protect agricultural producers in Iowa from individuals whose main goal is to disparage farmers and disrupt or dismantle their operations.
These bills are not designed to protect those who mistreat animals. The bills are designed to protect producers from people who don’t like production agriculture and are attempting to sabotage operations. The bill clarifies what’s already in state law as far as illegally entering a property where animals or crops are maintained without the owner’s consent.
The bills do not prohibit government officials or veterinarians from entering the properties or the legitimate employees of an operation. The bill makes it illegal to photograph, videotape or create an image or sound recording at an animal facility without the owner’s consent. The bills also make it illegal to possess or distribute such recordings.
SF397, better known as the Stolen Valor Act.
The proposed legislation makes it a criminal offense to falsely claim that one has received a medal or decoration from the United States military. If someone misrepresents, verbally or in writing, that they have received a medal, ribbon, button or rosette, they would be guilty of a serious misdemeanor and be required to pay a fine of between $315 and $1,875 and face up to a year of incarceration.
It’s sad that we need to address issues like this. But, it does happen and more often than one might think. We absolutely need to protect the honor of our veterans.
I plan to strongly support both of these bills. We continue to move more bills through the debate process and work towards a balanced budget for fiscal year 2012. Also, we are expecting to see the re-districting map at the end of March.
See you out and about the district.