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Cramped cows and abused chickens are at risk of losing a powerful ally: filmmakers. A new bill up for House ruling in Iowa today would make whistle-blowing documentarians like Robert Kenner of "Food, Inc." fame criminals, reports the Iowa Independent. And similar action is on the table in Florida.
Any undercover videotaping or photographing of livestock or farm operations would be a classified aggravated misdemeanor calling for two years in prison and a penalty fine of up to $6,250; subsequent offenses would be class D felonies (five years and up to $7,500 in penalties). Tough break for journalism.
The risky work of undercover reporters has often led to legislation or at least further investigation of unjust acts, namely in the case of animal rights violations. We've all seen the videos -- cramped pigs with rail wounds; crippled chickens living in dark, feces-ridden barns. Heck, some even turned us vegetarian, or led us to greener (ahem, more humane) pastures. But that'd all be cutting room floor dust if this law were enacted mere years ago, or before YouTube turned it all insta-viral.