Exposing Animal Cruelty Via Undercover Operations Shouldn’t be a Crime

Target: The Iowa State Legislature

Goal: To overturn the new Iowa State law outlawing undercover operations to catch the unethical and cruel treatment of animals by dairy and meat farmers.

Exposing acts of animal cruelty in Iowa, a state known for its big agriculture where farmers are overly protective of what they do to establish a continual supply of their dairy and meat products, has proven to be an extremely daunting task. Major animal activist groups have had to resort to controversial, undercover tactics to gain entry into large farming operations in order to catch and publicize acts of cruel and unusual treatment. Animals have rights too; a fact that has been fought for decades by powerful and influential organizations like, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Mercy for Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States. Supporters nationwide, have followed and fought for the projects conducted by these organizations, and celebrated when individuals conducting acts of animal brutality where brought to justice and found guilty of their malicious crimes. Unfortunately, Iowa’s new law that makes it a crime to gain access to livestock and dairy operations under false pretenses, not only halts the successful undercover projects of animal rights groups, it provides security for farmers who choose to engage in unethical farming techniques.

The new bill, which has been labeled “Ag Gag” by its opponents, was signed into law by Iowa State Governor Terry Branstad earlier this month, and sets an unnerving and dangerous precedent for other major agriculture states. Illinois, Missouri, Utah, New York, Nebraska, Indiana, and Minnesota are already considering similar laws, which will further hinder the necessary work of animal rights groups. Essentially, farmers, especially those that engage in animal mistreatment, can hide behind the stipulations of the law, which basically bans investigation of their operations.

Branstad, however, maintains the bill protects the state’s economy, explaining that “Agriculture is an important part of our economy and farmers should not be subjected to people doing illegal, inappropriate things and being involved in fraud and deception in order to try to disrupt agricultural operations.” But this raises the question; Who is protecting the animals? In past years a number of animal abuse cases have emerged due to the undercover work of activists. For example, McDonalds recently stopped purchasing from Iowa egg supplier Sparboe after an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals found dead hens in cages and live chicks discarded in plastic bags with dead and dying chicks.

Without the footage obtained by animal rights members posing as employees, the abuse and brutality endured by meat and dairy livestock would not have been brought to light. Signing the petition below will help convince the Iowa State legislature to rethink their support of and overturn the new bill outlawing undercover animal activist work. The state should protect the rights of animals rather than the cruel and wrong practices of abusive farmers.


Dear Iowa State Legislature,

The actions of animal rights organizations might be controversial, but they are necessary in the fight to stop the abuse and mistreatment of animals in factory farms. Major dairy and meat suppliers resort to extreme and unethical practices to ensure the supply of their products, and such brutality must not continue. The new bill that outlaws the undercover operations of activist groups to expose farmer misconduct is outrageous because it essentially shields abusive farmers from cruelty exposure and legal action.

Animals have rights too. Investigations within Iowa’s Big Agriculture have already exposed numerous acts of animal brutality. A prime example is the merciless treatment of hens and baby chicks at Sparboe Farms. Without the undercover tactics conducted by Mercy for Animals, the abuse by Sparboe employees would not have been exposed, prompting a boycott of its products by McDonalds.

Rather than focusing on the pocketbooks of state farmers and hiding behind the pretense that the new law protects the state’s economy, this legislature should focus more on meat and dairy production. People do not want to purchase products that are the outcome of irresponsible and brutal techniques. Take action to protect the rights of innocent livestock. The new law prohibiting undercover tactics of animal activist must be overturned.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. Jane Davidson says:

    Animals must be protected from such atrocity. They deserve every bit of respect.

  2. ivonne carlson says:

    how elsewill we know the truth unles peoplego undercover?

  3. Helen Troy says:

    We as the general public need to start asking questions.
    We need to stop and listen and watch carefully what is going on around us.
    We need to become in tune with the cries for help and ~
    We must have the right to be able to gather information and bring this forth in a lawful manner in order to be able to help any living being out of a crises ~ this is our right ~ no one should be allowed to take this away from us ~ ever ~

    • Lindsey Powers Lindsey Powers says:

      By taking away our rights, our government is simultaneously condemning the futures of innocent animals. It’s atrocious.

  4. Cynthia Garbutt says:

    We need a feature film about this. More exposure. More people need to know, what’s really going on.

    Run, run, run but they cannot hide. Think: Erin Brokovich PETA.

    • Emma Gaines says:

      I agree !! People need to know what torture is going on around them, of what they eat, put in their own bodies for God’s sake !! Allow undercover operations, there’s no reason to condemn them if you have nothing to hide.

      The barbaric actions of slaughterhouses need to be outlawed, not those who give these poor animals voices!!


      Never Be Silent .

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