New law in Iowa creates new type of new type of criminal offense — agricultural production facility fraud
Under a controversial measure that took more than a year to pass and garnered national attention, Iowa has established a new type of criminal offense — agricultural production facility fraud.
HF 589 targets individuals who seek work in agricultural facilities under false pretenses. It is a response to cases in which individuals have taken jobs in order to investigate conditions at these operations and to uncover animal-welfare abuse.
Proponents of the new law say these individuals have intentionally distorted agricultural production practices and staged events inside the facilities. Opponents say HF 589 wrongly silences whistle-blowers — whether they are journalists or animal-rights activists — and targets them for prosecution. According to The Des Moines Register, the new law is likely to face a legal challenge on grounds that it violates free-speech protections, despite attempts to address these constitutional concerns. (The bill originally made it a crime to film agricultural production facilities without the owner’s consent.)