January 24, 2018

Ag Gag Bill Signed into Law in Idaho

This week, Idaho Governor C. L. Otter signed the latest ag-gag bill into law. The law was created, promoted, and passed in retaliation to undercover videos that exposed animal abuse at Idaho’s Bettencourt Dairy farm in 2012. ┬áThat video showed workers caning, beating, and sexually abusing cows. Employees were fired and prosecuted as a result of the exposure. [Warning: the video is very disturbing.]

cows grazingMatt Rice, the director of investigations at Mercy for Animals, said in a statement, “Governor Otter has decided to keep corrupt factory farming practices from the public. He’s created a safe haven for animal abuse. These facilities that supply food to the entire country. No other industry has that kind of immunity. Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply.”

The law has sentences of a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for anyone who secretly records agricultural operations. Similar laws are in effect in Iowa, Utah, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana, and Kansas.

In an interesting development, the founder of Chobani, which recently opened a yogurt plant in Idaho, urged the governor to veto the bill, saying it would “limit transparency and make some instances of exposing the mistreatment of animals in the state punishable by imprisonment.” The governor said that Idaho farmers must be “secure in their property and their livelihood.”

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