States could ban undercover filming of animal agriculture

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Iowa and Florida state legislators are considering bills that would ban the undercover filming of animal agriculture.

In mid-March, the Iowa House passed a bill that would prohibit the production of visual or audio records of an agricultural operation without the owners' consent. The Florida Senate was considering a similar bill that would require owner consent, in writing, for recording of agricultural operations.

The Humane Society of the United States is among the groups that oppose the Iowa legislation as targeting investigations into mistreatment of farm animals. Last year, the HSUS released undercover footage that appeared to document mistreatment of egg-laying hens at two farms in Iowa (see JAVMA, May 15, 2010).

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is among the groups that support the Iowa legislation as protecting farmers against activists. The alliance expressed concerns that activists heavily edit undercover footage of agricultural operations.

The Iowa legislation also would restrict access to private agricultural operations. Among other provisions, the bill would prohibit people from obtaining access to an agricultural operation by false pretenses for the purpose of committing an act not authorized by the facility's owners.