The First Amendment isn’t long, but it certainly packs a lot of angst into those few words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
BySam Robinson and Pam Dempsey/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting report: Idaho recently became the first state to have both a modern-day farm protection law and an agriculture disparagement, or “veggie libel,” law. Iowa led the nation in 2012 when it passed its own so-called “ag-gag” law.
A major environmental threat has emerged as factory farms take over more and more of the nation’s livestock production: Pollution from the waste produced by the immense crush of animals. Iowa has more of the massive livestock feeding lots, known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, than any other state and has come under fire for lax regulations.
Livestock industry groups applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s retreat last year from establishing an information-gathering rule. Michael Formica, of the National Pork Producers’ Council, said the rule simply would have burdened farmers with pointless paperwork. “You want your farmers focused on farming and running the farm, you don’t want them worried about filling out one inane form after another,” he said. Industry leaders also expressed satisfaction that it would be more difficult for the EPA to get information without a law compelling disclosure. Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said his organization was pleased the effort would be more “labor intensive” because the data is “in a decentralized form that is much more difficult to ascertain.”