Senate File 519, a bill related to agriculture facility trespass, passed the Iowa Senate on Tuesday. A vote of 41-8 showed solid bipartisan support for the legislation.
The bill creates a criminal offense of agricultural production facility trespass which involves the use of deception to obtain access to a facility, which is not open to the public, with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the facility’s operations, property or persons.
It also involves obtaining employment with the agricultural production facility by deception with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to facility’s operations, property or persons.
Republican Sen. Ken Rozenboom addressed some concerns raised by Democrat during floor debate. He said current law is not sufficient.
“False pretenses are at the heart of this bill,” Rozenboom said. “I don’t think that protection is adequate in this case. I can show you a job posting with people looking for this type of work. They could easily get around current law to do that.”
It is imperative, Rozenboom said, to protect agriculture in Iowa.
“Iowa’s heritage and Iowa’s future is agriculture,” Rozenboom said. “It’s many other things, but it’s certainly agriculture.”
Rozenboom said agriculture contributes $38 billion in economic output and provides 160,000 jobs in Iowa. It contributes $1.2 million in state and local taxes. Iowa’s ag community is critical to feeding a world population estimated to be at 9.8 billion in 2050.
“Agriculture in Iowa deserves protection from those who would potentially use deceptive practices,” Rozenboom said. “It’s absolutely essential to the state of Iowa. I do not see this as a win-lose bill, I think this is a win-win bill.”