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Friday, March 25, 2011

Iowa's Whistle Blowers BIll SF-431

Iowa is considering passing a Bill SF-431 also referred to as the Whistle blowers bill.  This bill passed in the House of Representatives, and is now being considered in the Senate.  In Section 9- 717A.2A, the bill addresses the legality of producing or possessing a video or audio recording of the facility without prior consent of the facility owner.  It would make anyone who produces or possesses such a video a criminal.

We live in a society where images have become our police. We record our babysitters to make sure our children are safe. We record our property to be certain our homes and businesses are safe. We fall victims of being recorded in stores. We are videotaped in businesses, recorded by friends and by strangers on cell phones. We are imaged by officers of the law on the highways going through red lights, or speeding past speed signs. There are television shows that give prizes for videos of people who often are unaware of the recording at the time they are made. We police others with our own actions, we are policed by strangers every time we leave our house. We accept and survive knowing this fact, and realize that this new era of technology has become the new Big Brother that is there to protect us, and perhaps make us realize that our behavior holds ramifications especially if the behavior is improper.

As a consumer of Iowa agricultural products, I have a right to know that the animals used to produce these products are well cared for and not abused or neglected. It makes me terribly uncomfortable to think that the living source of the products that I serve to my family are kept behind locked doors with little to no quality control or supervision.

In August of 2010, less than one year ago, an Iowa egg farm had to recall its eggs after making hundreds of people nationwide, not just Iowans, sick with Salmonella. After the outbreak, it was made evident that the producer had a well-known history of violations, with fines from multiple government agencies. It was brought to light that recent inspections of this facility were non-existent. These governmental agencies were trusted with protecting the American public, and protecting the livestock in this producer's care.  This one incident gave Iowa Agriculture a new look as it was mentioned again and again on nationwide television associated with this tragedy. 

Perhaps if the issues were brought to light, the illnesses could have been prevented, as could the bad PR that Iowa Agriculture took for being the cause of hundreds of illnesses in adults and children.  Employees risk losing their job for voicing concerns.  How does an employee show proof of protocol shortcuts, neglect, or abuse taking place in his or her work environment?  If you are an employee and cannot record or photograph evidence, it would be your word against those that are afraid of unemployment lines.  What outlet do concerned people and employees have when the rules in place are not being followed, other than going to the boss who is likely aware of the situation and not motivated to fix it? 

In April of 2010, Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, published a study entitled, FDA INSPECTIONS OF DOMESTIC FOOD FACILITIES. In this report, findings include the following quoted from the actual report:
"On average, FDA inspects less than a quarter of food facilities each year, and the number of facilities inspected has declined over time. "

"Fifty-six percent of food facilities have gone 5 or more years without an FDA inspection."

"Our report found significant weaknesses in FDA’s domestic inspections program. We found that there was a significant decline in the number of food facility inspections as well as a decline in the number of violations identified by FDA inspectors. Further, when violations were identified, FDA did not routinely take swift and effective action to ensure that these violations were remedied."

I fear that the effects of a law that makes "whistle blowers" criminals create an increasingly negative image recently left upon the reputation of Iowa Agriculture.  We take pride in our state and our livestock, what do we have to hide?  When those in charge fail to do their job, sometimes it is the whistle blowers that remind us why these supervisory jobs are so important. Why should animal facilities be exempt of the same policing that all Americans are subjected to on a daily basis?

Please ask your Iowa State Senator to Vote No on SF 431.  I would like to be confident that the animals in the care of all Iowans are safe and treated fairly while cared for in any Iowa facility, and that Iowa agricultural products are safe for my family. 

Representative Annette Sweeney is the writer of the bill.  View this news video from WHO-TV News to see her idea of ethical actions and her opinion of freedom of speech!

Is this video of a person stripping the display of a group with whome she is not affiliated proof of why video evidence can be helpful, and what can happen when people feel they are not being supervised? 

Here are more examples of undercover video that have helped make lives better: 
Scroll down the list and watch the videos of Iowa dogs and their breeders.  Then look for videos from your own state.  These videos have helped to pass laws which give more protection to animals within these facilities.

Representative Sweeney spoke at the Iowa Pet Breeders Association Annual Meeting.

If you are from Iowa, contact your State Senator and ask them to Vote No on SF-431 TODAY!

Not sure who your legislator is?  Visit

If your Representative is Annette Sweeney, District 44 (Much of Hardin and Marshall County Iowa)  Let her know your opinion of her actions and her bill today. 
Contact: Cell: (641)-373-4899

Agricultural facilities, including commercial dog breeders, do not have an open door policy for many reasons. What can happen behind closed doors, without proper oversight, is not something Iowans should want to hide or encourage. This legislation screams to the world that Iowans have something to hide. Let us prove that our animals are important enough to be cared for in the best way possible by following our animal care laws, rather than criminalizing those who dare to show us violating them.

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Jessica Knouse-Lang said...

This is so unbelieveable!! They are supporting the abusers.From what I read 60% of Iowans dont support the bill. But what the Iowa wants doesnt matter to these politicans. It their agenda not the voters. How very selfish."

John Braumann said...

Please contact the senate about this bill.

Sharon Houser said...

100% in agreement with you on this issue, would go one step further to say the woman behind this bill needs to be ousted from serving Iowans in any further issues.....

Drew Hildal said...

Unbelieveable! It makes me wonder who representative Sweeney is trying to protect! Making someone a criminal for blowing the whistle on criminals, as well as trying to protect animals and the general public? Sad...

ameow2002 said... This clip taken yesterday shows how Annette thinks that she is in fact above the law. I am appalled and outraged by her behavior as we all should be. Her job as a representative is to support her constituents and not her own personal agenda. I don't, and can't imagine anyone else condones her reprehensible behavior. She was actually awarded just yesterday for being an 'exemplary' representative by her peers. She should be stripped of her award and her position!!! She has been quoted many times as saying animal rights activists have no regards for others personal property...obviously she was speaking of herself. She is a livestock producer in Hardin County...what is she hiding???

Anonymous said...

This bill is sick. I sent an email to Senator Matt McCoy, asking him to vote against, he said:
"I strongly oppose SF 431."

Hmm. By the way, I recently posted a video on my site using footage exactly like the type they are trying to ban. Check it out:

No surprise they want to ban it.


Anonymous said...

is anyone opposing her in the next election?