Most Iowans recognize that Iowa’s crop and livestock products play a major role in global food security. As a leader in the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), I have taken several trips to foreign countries and have seen firsthand the growing importance of increasing a farmer’s ability to feed more and more people.
Iowa legislators have an opportunity to help farmers meet this growing demand for food by passing HF 589. This bill would penalize people who trespass or lie to gain entry into livestock facilities to generate video of what they claim is animal abuse and which they then use to disrupt production, upset the public and raise money.
Last summer, ISA surveyed more than 500 voters through focus groups and phone surveys regarding their views on livestock production in Iowa. More than 80 percent believe farm animals are treated humanely. Probably more telling is that 83 percent believe there can and should be a difference between what is considered humane treatment of farm animals and that of household pets. Obviously, Iowans understand the importance of livestock production and the difference between pets and livestock.
Unfortunately, many groups led by voices from outside Iowa want to end animal agriculture in our state. These groups are trying to persuade legislators and the public to believe that farmers don’t care about their livestock. They even claim the only protection for the animals are the clandestinely obtained surveillance videos which result from their illicit activities.
As a soybean farmer, I grow plant protein which is consumed by both livestock and humans. My success requires a strong agricultural economy, and a strong ag economy needs grain, livestock and biofuel production working together. The actions of the radical groups allegedly impacted by HF 589 are driven to upset the ag economy in Iowa to advance their own political objectives. The bill simply protects farmers and the ag economy from these radical groups. Iowa’s farmers are highly regulated and inspected by multiple government entities. The spy tactics banned by HF 589 are not necessary to regulate production agriculture.
Iowa farmers don’t have millions to mount a public relations campaign to combat these groups trying to destroy livestock production. However, we do have our integrity and good information about how Iowans really feel about livestock production. We hope legislators will reach out for information and contact their local farmers as they consider House File 589 and any other agriculture bills in the future.
Randy Van Kooten
Iowa Soybean Association