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Rep. Upmeyer: Ag trespass bill not meant to stifle free speech, will protect against threats

Linda Upmeyer (right)

The following is a legislative update from GOP Rep. Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake, Speaker of the Iowa House:

While we are finally getting warmer weather, this has created some serious flooding issues across the state with all the melting snow. Governor Reynolds has already issued a disaster proclamation for much of Western and North Iowa, including Butler and Cerro Gordo counties. If you were affected by the recent severe weather, you may qualify for state disaster relief. Please visit to see if you are eligible.

After the first funnel deadline, it is important that we get our bills over to the Senate so that they can be considered before the next funnel. That meant that the week was filled with debate and discussion of bills on the floor. We passed a number of priority bills including an extension of the school infrastructure tax (SAVE), enshrining the right to keep and bear arms in our state constitution, and several bills that will improve health care access in our state.

One of the most important bills that we passed this week is aimed at protecting Iowa’s agriculture industry from hostile individuals, groups, and foreign countries. Agriculture is the backbone of Iowa’s economy and our rural communities. Iowa is a national leader in agricultural production when it comes to corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, and many other commodities. And agriculture doesn’t just impact farmers. This is a wide-ranging industry also includes small business owners, manufacturers, and financial services.

Because agriculture plays such a significant role in Iowa, it often makes us a prime target for attack whether it be economic or biological.

We know that China is engaging in agricultural espionage, trying to steal intellectual property related to seed and livestock technology. There is also the potential for individuals to engage in bioterrorism by infecting livestock with highly contagious diseases. The African Swine Fever is a serious concern for livestock producers right now. With a nearly 100% mortality rate, someone could deploy this deadly disease in an effort to reduce the hog supply and negatively impact the market for pork. This would be devastating to Iowa’s economy, leading to thousands of job losses and would likely shut down countless family farms.

Acts like these not only put the world’s food supply at risk but it also harms the competitiveness of Iowa and American businesses.

It is due to these serious threats that Senate File 519 is necessary. This legislation penalizes individuals that use deception or false information to gain access to agriculture production facilities with the intent to cause physical or economic harm. We passed similar legislation in 2012, but it was recently struck down by a federal court. This year’s bill is much more narrowly tailored and includes provisions from a law that was passed in Idaho that has withstood court challenges. The bill passed with support from both Republicans and Democrats on a vote of 65-32. (And was later signed by Governor Reynolds.)

This legislation is not an attack on free speech like some opponents have said. It simply holds those who lie or deceive accountable.

This bipartisan legislation is critical for not only agriculture, but the future of Iowa. We will always look for ways to support Iowa farmers so that they can focus on growing and raising the food that feeds the world.

As session continues to move forward, please feel free to reach out and share your thoughts. If I can be of any assistance, you can contact me by email at or by phone at (515) 281-3521.

Upcoming Forums on Friday, March 29:
10:00 – 11:30 am
Center One
5 1st Street SW, Hampton
1:00 – 2:30 pm
Allison Public Library
412 3rd St, Allison

Rep. Upmeyer: “We had a very special guest on Thursday as Naoki Ito, Consul-General of Japan in Chicago, visited the Iowa House. He spoke to members about the strong paretnership between Iowa and Japan and the great trade relationship we have.”
Rep. Upmeyer: “Thanks to the team from Clear Lake Bank & Trust who stopped by my office while they were in Des Moines for the Iowa Bankers Association’s Banking Leadership Institute.”
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