A federal court has struck down Iowa’s “ag-gag” law. In 2012, the state created the crime of “agricultural production facility fraud” after several undercover investigations revealed worker cruelty to animals. The incidents included farm workers hurling small piglets onto a concrete floor, beating pigs with metal rods, and abusing hens and chicks. Instead of addressing the conduct of workers who inflicted needless suffering on animals, the Iowa legislature acted to criminalize the conduct of undercover investigators.
Judge James Gritzner of the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, however, found that the law infringed on protected speech and that the law’s purpose—to protect Iowa’s agricultural industry from “harm” stemming from undercover investigations—was insufficient to justify curtailing such First Amendment rights. Similar laws have been struck down in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming.