Iowa ‘Ag Gag’ Law Partially Upheld

Aug. 11, 2021
Animal-rights activists can lie on applications to get jobs on farms in Iowa, but they’re breaking the law if they set foot on those farms.

Animal-rights activists can lie on applications to get jobs on farms in Iowa, but they’re breaking the law if they set foot on those farms, a federal appeals court ruled Aug. 10.

The ruling from the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the latest salvo in a long battle between farmers and legislators on the one hand, and animal-rights activists on the other, over Iowa’s so-called “ag gag” laws. These are meant to prohibit activists from gaining employment on farms so that they can record videos showing how animals are treated there.

The court ruled 2 to 1 that a provision of the law banning “false statements” on job applications is so broad that it violates the First Amendment. However, it unanimously reversed a lower court to rule that Iowa can legally charge activists with trespassing if they enter an agricultural production facility “with an intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.”

The battle over “ag gag” laws has been going on since Iowa passed its first version in 2012, which was ruled unconstitutional. The state legislature amended the law in 2019 in response to that ruling.

Iowa also passed a separate law last year banning the use of “a camera or electronic surveillance device” to record animal abuse. Activists filed a separate lawsuit on Aug. 10 challenging that law.

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