Two Democrats are denouncing a bill that would make it a crime to take pictures or videotape livestock confinements in Iowa.
Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says that would endanger the good reputation Iowa-grown food products have earned, and prompt other industries to seek similar “gag orders.”
“I’m concerned that my colleagues and my friends and some of those individuals in the senate who I think have the best interests of Iowans at heart are being led down a bad road here,” McCoy said during a statehouse news conference. “And so I’m speaking out today to try to stop that from happening.”
McCoy specifically cites the “black eye” Iowa got this summer when large-scale egg producer Jack DeCoster’s operation was identified as the source of a samonella outbreak.
“This would give him the kind of protection he’d like and we need to stop that,” McCoy said. “We need to say, ‘No,’ to Jack DeCoster.”
Supporters of the bill say it’s needed to protect farmers from animal rights groups that send out “teams” who lie to get jobs in livestock confinements in order to commit abuses and videotape their actions. The bill has already cleared the Iowa House. Representative Jim Lykam, a Democrat from Davenport, is urging senators to kill the bill.
“If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. It can’t be fixed,” Lykam says. “(The bill) can’t be fixed. The Senate should simply let it die along with other examples of extreme legislation approved by the House.”
Lykam and McCoy held a news conference at the statehouse to voice their opposition to the bill. Tony Lemmo, the owner of two restaurants in Des Moines, joined the legislators in calling the bill a “travesty.”
“If you don’t want transparency, I mean, you’re hiding something,” Lemmo said. “To me, it’s a red flag.” Lemmo told reporters he’d “welcome” anyone to come into his restaurants and check out the way his kitchens are run.
Listen to news conference featuring LykamMcCoyLemmo (MP3 runs 13 minutes).