DES MOINES – Iowa Gov. Kim Richardson recently signed into law a new bill that criminalizes undercover investigations at farms and other agricultural facilities.

Called “Ag-Gag 2.0” by critics, the law creates a specific crime called “agricultural production facility trespass,” and allows the prosecution of people use deception to gain access to agricultural facilities such livestock operations, slaughter plants and other ag-related facilities. The law goes into effect immediately.

Animal welfare advocates criticized the legislation. In a blog on the Mercy For Animal website, David Matulewicz-Crowley wrote, “This new law aims to stop exposure of unsavory and illegal practices at the worst farms in Iowa and deprive Iowa citizens of the right to know how animals in their state are treated.”

In a statement, the ACLU of Iowa noted that Iowa law already covers crimes such as trespassing.

“Ag Gag 2.0 once again tries to give special protection to agriculture over all other industries in our state, and over the free speech rights of those who would voice opposition to them. It would have a chilling effect on exposing problematic worker conditions, health and safety violations, and animal cruelty.”

The new trespass law comes just a few months after a federal court found that a similar Iowa ban on undercover investigations at agricultural facilities had violated First Amendment free speech protections. In a statement issued at the time of the ruling, the Iowa Pork Producers Association said, “It was never the intent of farmers to infringe on others’ constitutional rights; but we also were relying on the courts to help us protect our rights to lawfully conduct our businesses and care for our animals.”