The 8th Circuit Court unanimously overruled a District Court and upheld Iowa’s 2019 and 2021 agriculture trespass laws as constitutional this week. After several organizations challenged the new law, the district court concluded that the intent requirement renders the law “viewpoint-based” and unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
In the ruling, the 8th Circuit Court said, “We respectfully disagree, and therefore reverse.” The lawsuit was filed by groups including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Food Safety, among others. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig responded, “The Legislature and Gov. Reynolds enacted these laws to safeguard our ag community and protect our food security. It is welcome news that Iowa producers can now be protected from trespassers and it sends a clear message to those who maliciously target our livestock farms.”
Critics described the laws as “ag-gag” laws, seeking to criminalize efforts to access and secretly record alleged animal abuse on farms.