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Lawsuit Challenges Iowa’s Law Criminalizing Farm Investigations

Pig Farm
Image: Unsplash/Amber Kipp

A coalition of public interest groups, led by nonprofit law organization Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit to challenge Iowa’s second Ag-Gag law, which critics call unconstitutional.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa to oppose Iowa lawmakers that enacted the Ag-Gag 2.0 law.

The second Ag-Gag law, which was signed into law last month after a federal judge struck down a similar previous law, criminalizes investigations in factory farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills.

It also introduces a new crime, “agricultural production facility trespass,” which makes it illegal for a person to gain access to an agricultural production facility through deception if the person aims to “cause an injury to the business interest.”

Animal Legal Defense Fund claims that horrific animal abuse in facilities, such as slamming piglets into concrete floors and confining animals in small and filthy cages, damages business interest, not the investigations.

It also claims that investigations actually help the public to become more aware of the “appalling conditions” that animals go through in animal farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills.

“Factory farms want to hide their abuses, and in some states lawmakers have been happy to help by passing Ag-Gag laws. But federal courts have consistently ruled that these laws violate our constitutional rights,” Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director, said in a statement sent to Vegan World News.

“Ag-Gag laws are a threat to food safety, animal protection, the environment and workers’ rights. Iowa’s first Ag-Gag law violated our First Amendment rights, and we expect the court to come to the same conclusion this time.”

The plaintiff coalition is composed of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Center for Food Safety, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and Bailing Out Benji.

It is represented by Public Justice, the ACLU of Iowa, the Law Office of Matthew Strugar, Justin Marceau and Alan Chen of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and in-house counsel for the plaintiff organizations.

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Roxanne Libatique

Written by Roxanne Libatique

Roxanne is a vegan journalist and advocate for animal rights and mental health. She tries to live consciously and spends her free time traveling, enjoying vegan food, volunteering, and speaking up for all animals. Connect with her at @roxlibatique on Twitter and Instagram.

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