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By Staff | Apr 29, 2011

One thing that livestock industries could use is some improvement in relating to, and dealing with, the public. When they involve politicians, it can just get worse.

In response to undercover videos taken by animal rights activists inside “factory farms,” depicting alleged mistreatment of farm animals, 66 Iowa representatives voted to criminalize such recordings.

The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu did exactly what columnists who think that “Food Inc” accurately depicts agriculture would be expected to do, turn the legislative action into negative publicity for the livestock industry.

My family owns and operates a confinement beef feedlot operation and has been in the livestock business for generations in Iowa. I am proud of our CAFO’s humane treatment of animals and anybody with a video camera taping our operation would waste a lot of tape.

They would either be fascinated by the operation or bored depending on their curiosity and level of interest in animal agriculture. I’m going to speak for myself, but, “We don’t need the Iowa Legislature” to defend us, justify us, or protect us from the animal activists or the Rekha Basu’s of the world.

Enacting this legislation strongly suggests to the public that livestock industries have something to hide that they should be ashamed of that they need to shield the livestock industry from being exposed. I don’t know what idiot politician wrote this bill, but I’m sure the others had to vote for it or they would look like they didn’t support the livestock industry.

Frankly, there are livestock CAFOs that don’t treat their animals like 4-H projects. I personally don’t have a problem with them being exposed. Given protection by the legislature so that they can operate under a legal protective veil benefits who in the long run? It will just give the activists a rallying point that will make them stronger on the back of negative publicity for the livestock industry.

If the legislature thinks it is doing livestock industries a favor with this kind of legislation – thank you and please stop.

I’m sure that what motivated them is the belief that video footage will be edited and packaged to dupe the public into believing that what they are seeing is 10 times worse than what occurred; because that is what those perpetrating these video productions often do to justify and perpetuate their existence. Given the choice, the Rekha Basu’s of the world appear predisposed to believe anything bad about agriculture over anything good.

Legalizing what is essentially a gag order on livestock videos, however, will only give the opposition more fuel for their fantasies. The problem is that we don’t have enough videos. If the public were exposed to how well most livestock are taken care of, it would put the rare exceptions into perspective.

I don’t want to protect those “rare exceptions” when abuse does occur, from being exposed.

Our CAFO doesn’t need this protection and those that do, ought not to have it. Basu wrote, “Iowa law already prevents trespass, fraud and property defacement. If fraudulent employment is a problem for the meat industry, maybe it should do better at screening prospective hires. This proposed law smacks of attempted intimidation.

What’s so special about animal operations that they deserve extra protections, when other industries get by with the laws we have?”

What do you say to that? I happen to think that she has made a strong point. The laws that we have are plenty good enough for our livestock operation.

I think HSUS is the biggest legal fraud in the country, PETA is insane and Rekha Basu is a city girl who wouldn’t know what to believe about agriculture subject to what someone wants her to believe.

We have millions of Americans essentially in the same boat as Rekha, and I will guarantee you that however well intended, a special law prohibiting investigative journalism of the livestock industry will not win arguments, hearts and minds benefiting the livestock industry.

I am proud of our industry and believe that the humane treatment of animals was protected under existing laws, as are livestock producers.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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