It didn’t take animal rights group Mercy for Animals long to jump at an opportunity after a federal court struck down Iowa’s ag-gag law as unconstitutional.

With the law in place, it was unlawful for a person to obtain access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses. It also makes it illegal for a person to knowingly make a false statement or representation as part of an application or agreement to be employed at an agricultural production facility with the intent to knowingly commit an act not authorized by the owner. The law also made it unlawful to conspire to enter or gain employment at agricultural operations under false pretenses.

However, earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa said the law violates people’s First Amendment rights.

Mercy for Animals seeks Iowa 'investigator'

The Des Moines Register reported that Mercy for Animals is advertising online for an Iowa-based undercover investigator to work at “factory farms, hatcheries, livestock markets and slaughterhouses” to find instances of possible animal abuse.

An undercover investigator job description, using extremist language that clearly spells out that a job requirement is being deceptive (even though it doesn’t come right out and say it), is on Mercy for Animals’ website. 

Mercy for Animal’s job description may call for the ideal candidate to have “the highest level of personal integrity,” but that group’s definition of integrity is not how I suspect most decent people would define the word.

Mercy for Animals is taking advantage of what it sees as an opportunity. That should come as no surprise and you can probably assume other groups with a similar agenda have set their sights on Iowa.

I’m glad that the Register did this report, as it is apt to warn those in animal agriculture in Iowa to be wary of any stranger who approaches their property and that they may not necessarily have good intentions. I also applaud the newspaper for reaching out to Casey Kinler, communications manager for the Animal Agriculture Alliance, who informed the reporter, among other things, that the type of investigator Mercy for Animals may actually be causing more animal harm by unintentionally bringing disease to the poultry or livestock.

It’s easy to have mixed feelings when it comes to ag-gag laws. They are seen as good because they help protect agricultural operations from people who do not mind being dishonest about their identity or intentions if they think they are helping animals that they believe are suffering. The other side of the argument is that if you are taking care of every detail to ensure your animals’ well-being, the need for ag-gag laws shouldn’t be there.

Regardless, the Iowa ag-gag law is gone, Mercy for Animals knows it, and nobody should be complacent with their animal health or animal welfare practices.