4:12 PM CDT, March 12, 2012
I don't get a lot of opportunities to applaud the Illinois General Assembly, but right now, commendations are in order.
Recently, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill making it a crime to enter an agricultural facility under false pretenses to do something unapproved by the owner. This sort of legislation, known as "ag gag," is a response to animal welfare activists who have gotten hired to document miserable conditions and cruelty at factory farms.
But apparently that sort of law won't be coming to Illinois. A bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Jim Sacia of Pecatonica, and the Farm Bureau and the Illinois Pork Producers Association endorsed it -- but last week it was tabled, which suggests it's dead at least for this year.
That's good, because the effect would be to keep information away from the citizenry. If someone lies to get a job at a major hog farm or poultry operation, that person can be fired. If he or she does any property damage, prosecution can be done under existing laws. No additional legislation is needed -- unless you want to intimidate people from exposing useful facts.
If factory farms have something to hide, they need this sort of protection. But the rest of us have nothing to gain by letting them have it.
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