News Update
March 11, 2011

Iowa ‘Undercover Video’ Bill Advances

Legislation that would make it a criminal offense to gain employment on farms or in processing facilities under false pretense, and secretly take videos, is moving through the Iowa legislature. The bill would define shooting undercover video as “animal facility interference.”  It would be considered an aggravated misdemeanor on the first conviction and a felony for second and subsequent convictions. Representative Annette Sweeney of Alden is the bill’s sponsor. 

“Whenever you’re hired in an egg facility, a hog facility, you go in and you sign a code of conduct,” Sweeney says. “You say if you see anybody abusing animals, you’re going to tell your employer that that person is doing that — and you are bound by that code of conduct.”

Senator Sandy Greiner of Keota says the legislation is a response to actions by groups like the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which have released video taken from inside livestock facilities.

“I mean, they film it to bring a business down and that individual that’s abusing those animals should be prosecuted as well as the person filming because they’re allowing it to happen without attempting to stop it,” Greiner says.  

Iowa’s House Agriculture Committee approved the bill last week, with only one member voting against it. Representative Chuck Isenhart of Dubuque says the bill may be a violation of the First Amendment.

“Dating back to the last century, we have investigative reporters in the context of their job exposing what at that time were very serious issues related to the slaughterhouse industry,” says Isenhart, “and I’m not suggesting any of that kind of stuff is occurring now — but to the extent that this may be perceived, the way it’s written, to chill that First Amendment right of the press, for that reason I’ll be voting against the bill.”

A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the Iowa Senate.

— Release by the Brownfield Ag News Network.

March Workshops Provide Environmental Issues Updates for Medium-Sized Beef Feedlots and Dairies

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will offer three workshops in northwest and western Iowa featuring environmental issues for feedlots and dairies that are medium-sized concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The workshops will be March 29 at the Spencer Community School Administration Building, March 30 at the Corporate Center in Sioux Center and March 31 at the American Legion Hall in Arcadia. All workshops will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Additional workshops will be at other Iowa locations in June.

Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension agricultural engineering program specialist, added, “This includes any feedlot or cow yard run-off, no matter how dilute or how far it travels.”

Each workshop will cover the following topics: definition of a medium-sized CAFO; National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements; design criteria for manure and effluent handling and storage; operation, maintenance and nutrient management plans; and resources for technical and financial assistance.

Consultants and companies from Iowa and surrounding states are sponsors for the workshops and will be available to discuss engineering services, manure plans and technical assistance.

Registration for the workshop is $30 for the first person from the operation and $15 for each additional person, which includes materials and lunch. Register by March 23 by calling the ISU Extension county office associated with the site to be attended. Call 712-262-2264 for the March 29 workshop at Spencer, 712-737-4230 for the March 30 workshop at Sioux Center or 712-792-2364 for the March 31 workshop at Arcadia. Payment may be made at the door, but preregistration is required.

— Release by ISU Extension.

AVMA Applauds Legislators’ Efforts to End Shortage of Veterinarians in Rural Areas

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today applauded U.S. Senators Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, for introducing the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act.

The bipartisan legislation will help the country address a critical shortage of veterinarians serving our rural areas by making the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) tax-exempt, thereby increasing the number of veterinarians who can participate in the program. The act would also apply to similar state programs that encourage veterinarians to practice in underserved communities.

Rather than awarding the full funding for this program each year, the current form of the VMLRP requires that 39% of the money it receives be returned to the U.S. Treasury as a federal tax, unlike its counterpart program for human medicine, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.

Sixty-two veterinarians from shortage areas around the country were selected for the program last year, out of a total pool of 260 applicants. About 20 more veterinarians could be selected to practice in a shortage area if the VMLRP was tax-exempt.

Nationwide, there are 500 counties that have at least 5,000 farm animals but no veterinarians in the area to treat them. This shortage could have dire consequences on human and animal health, public safety, animal welfare, disease surveillance and economic development. Recent studies indicate that the supply of veterinarians working in food supply veterinary medicine will fall short by 4%-5% annually through 2016.

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act already has the support of 138 animal, agricultural and veterinary medicine organizations nationwide.

— Release by AVMA.

— Compiled by Mathew Elliott, assistant editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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