Animal rights groups take aim at major proponent of bills to make it
harder to spotlight animal abuse.
By Clare Leschin-Hoar
June 1, 2012
Think factory farms like this don't need to be exposed? Then get ready
for a primary fight.
An effective, but hard to swallow tool of animal
activists is heart wrenching video footage captured inside some industrial
factory farms that produce our nation's food. Earlier this year, Iowa
lawmakers swiftly moved the nation's first
'Ag Gag' bill (FH 589/SF431) through the legislature and onto the desk
Gov. Terry Branstad, who signed it into law almost immediately.
It was a stunning blow to those who hoped for more transparency in our food
system, not less. Fast forward three months, and advocates are closely
watching Iowa again.
State Sen. Joe Seng, author and
champion of the 'Ag Gag' is challenging three-time incumbent, U.S. Rep.
Dave Loebsack in the state's Democratic Primary on Tuesday for the right to
represent Iowa's 2nd Congressional District in Washington.
Unfortunately for Seng, the folks over at the
Humane Society Legislative Fund
(HSLF) have a very good memory, and they're hoping Iowa Democrats do too.
Just in case, they've been busy contacting voters to remind them of Seng's
record, and strongly encouraging primary voters to support Loebsack, whose
district was recently redrawn.
The legislation Seng authored, they say, 'punishes whistleblowers,
investigative journalists, and anyone who helps them report on problems
uncovered at a factory farm.' Loebsack, on the other hand, is animal
friendly. He voted to cap direct subsidies to factory farms; ban animal
'crush' videos, and supported strengthening enforcement of the Humane
Methods of Slaughter Act.
The HSLF -- an affiliate of the
Human Society of the United States
-- is also betting that candidates who supported 'Ag Gag' legislation in
other states -- like Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York,
Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee -- are paying close attention to this race.
'Part of our message is to signal to candidates that there are
consequences for championing 'Ag Gag' bills that stomp on our first
amendment rights and dim the spotlight on animal cruelty,' Sara Amundson,
executive director of HSLF tells TakePart.
HSLF is nonpartisan. It
evaluates candidates on single criteria: where they stand on animal welfare.
As the group rolls out their 2012 endorsement list, Amundson says people
might be surprised by who gets the nod.
'We're single issue. Our job
is to help voters make good decisions in the voting booth, and that means
sharing information on where the candidates stand,' she said.
fact, if animal rights -- including those who end up on our dinner plates --
are important to you, the HSLF has made it easy to find out just which
candidates they support on their
Voter�s Guide page.
Although the animal-ag spotlight is shining
on Iowa's 2nd congressional district this week, it's not the only race HSLF
is watching. California's primary is the same day, and HSLF endorsed
candidates in four races: Tony Strickland (R); Howard Berman (D); Jared
Huffman (D) and Tony Cardenas (D).