Openness and transparency is good enough for our government, but in some circles, not for our food.
"In a post 9/11 world, transparency is important for farmers and consumers alike. Responsible farmers take good care of their land and livestock and want to employ honest, hardworking people that have the welfare of their livestock as their top priority." said Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President and livestock farmer Craig Hill in a statement.
Iowa’s House File 589 doesn't really address those issues. The bill is designed to make it more difficult to know what is going on in factory farms. As for those consumers, it's a lack of transparency.
Iowa isn't the only state where factory farms are fighting back against those who want to know more about how our food is grown. Seven states — Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Utah — have plans in the works for similar legislation.
So what does Iowa’s House File 589 do?
Agricultural production facility fraud. 1. A person is guilty of agricultural production facility fraud if the person willfully does any of the following: a. Obtains access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses. b. Makes a false statement or representation as part of an application or agreement to be employed at an agricultural production facility, if the person knows the statement to be false, and makes the statement with an intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner of the agricultural production facility, knowing that the act is not authorized.
So if you legitimately work in an agricultural production facility, and you are concerned about the practices where you work, if you take action, your employer will go after you for fraud that doesn't have to be true to be scary. Because somehow if you are concerned about the animals around you, this will be assumed from the start that you came into your job with the intent of disrupting the company.
One element that you got from watching "Fresh" was the number of chicken coop owners who felt like they couldn't appear on camera. So much is hidden from the process, from how the animals are treated to how the animals are processed.
Hill's statement reflects on "honest, hardworking people that have the welfare of their livestock as their top priority." That is what those who have been fighting for transparency want from the food system. If what Hill is saying is true, we don't need this legislation. Then again, they may disagree on the definitions of "honest" and "hardworking" and "welfare of their livestock as their top priority."