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Moskowitz reports: "Idaho on Friday became the first state in two years to pass a bill aimed at stopping filming at farms and dairy producers."

Animal rights activists say the law will make it harder to expose abuse on farms. (photo: Charlie Litchfield/AP)
Animal rights activists say the law will make it harder to expose abuse on farms. (photo: Charlie Litchfield/AP)

Idaho Gov. Signs 'Ag-Gag' Bill Into Law

By Peter Moskowitz, Al Jazeera America

02 March 14


Law criminalizes secretly filming on farms; animal rights groups say abuse will now go unexposed.

daho on Friday became the first state in two years to pass a bill aimed at stopping filming at farms and dairy producers. The bill, which animal rights activists often refer to as an “ag gag” bill, was created in response to undercover animal rights activists exposing animal abuse at one of Idaho’s largest dairy operations 2012.

The bill was signed into law by Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter on Friday.

The measure passed Idaho’s Senate earlier in February to the applause of agricultural representatives who said it would help ensure farmers’ right to privacy. But animal rights groups say the measure will have a chilling effect on investigations that attempt to expose wrongdoing on Idaho’s farms.

“Gov. Otter has decided to keep corrupt factory farming practices from the public. He’s created a safe haven for animal abuse,” said Matt Rice, the director of investigations at Mercy for Animals, the group that made the 2012 video that sparked Idaho’s ag-gag debate. “These are facilities that supply food to the entire country. No other industry has the kind of immunity.”

The legislation carries a sentence of up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for people who secretly enter and record agricultural operations. It also criminalizes falsifying documents like resumes in order to get hired on a farm.

“We’re extremely pleased that the bill passed,” said Bob Naerebout, director Idaho Dairymen’s Association. “Even though there was a lot of negative ads run on this bill, and even though the bill was misrepresented (by animal rights groups), Idaho’s legislators were able to see through that.”

Debate about laws governing filming on farms in Idaho started in 2012 when someone hired by Mercy for Animals got a job at a Bettencourt Dairies operation in Hansen and filmed workers caning, beating and sexually abusing cows.

The video was used to prosecute employees at the dairy, and it convinced Idaho’s dairy industry to create a worker training program to help prevent animal abuse. But it also set in motion a concerted effort by the dairy industry to make sure such embarrassing videos weren’t made in the state again.

So-called ag-gag bills have had trouble making their way through legislatures recently. Fifteen were introduced in 11 states last year, but none of them were signed into law. Two bills have also been defeated in Indiana and New Hampshire so far this year.

Idaho now joins Iowa, Utah and Missouri as the fourth state to have a bill making it illegal to film on farms.

Arizona and Tennessee are currently considering similar bills, and some are concerned that Idaho’s bill will embolden legislators and the agricultural industry in those states, and elsewhere.

“One case doesn’t make a trend, but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me that the industry continues to try,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society. “It’s now clearer than ever that the dairy industry will stop at nothing to hide its record of animal cruelty.” your social media marketing partner


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+35 # RnR 2014-03-02 09:48
I can't comment I'm given to rivers of foul profanity which I believe the stupid ignorant governor deserves. But, he's probably on his way to the bank.
+25 # Glen 2014-03-02 12:09
Same here, RnR. I remember when Idaho was innovative and thoughtful and had a great governor.

Stupid and ignorant is catching and spreading like a disease.
+34 # anntares 2014-03-02 10:50
The law is proof agribusiness is hiding something horrendous.
+30 # universlman 2014-03-02 11:39
Boycott food produced in Idaho - I have decided to do this starting now
+12 # Rick Levy 2014-03-02 19:00
Boycott Idaho period, tourism included.
+19 # tm7devils 2014-03-02 12:20
"...Idaho's legislators were able to see through that". What's "that"...their own assholes?
+27 # Carol R 2014-03-02 12:46
"But it also set in motion a concerted effort by the dairy industry to make sure such embarrassing videos weren’t made in the state again."

The best way to ensure embarrassing videos of workers 'caning, beating and sexually abusing cows' aren't made again is to correct the abuses that exists within the system. How can anyone support the Idaho Dairyman's Association when they are 'extremely pleased' to willingly cover up mistreatment of animals?

Where is government oversight into such abuses and why are they allowed to continue? The biggest usage of antibiotics in the US is given to cows because of the filth in which they are raised. None of this should be allowed.
+11 # cymricmorty 2014-03-02 15:47
A sad, sad day for our fellow sentient beings with nerve endings. I'll fight it however and whenever I can.
+14 # bingers 2014-03-02 14:28
I'm thinking this is at least partially Simplot protection bill. Has anyone noticed that the size of Idaho potatoes the last few years have shrunken by half. The only potato sized potatoes you can find any more are from Maine and New York.

I believe that not only should it be legal to blow the whistle on bad ag doings, the law should require it. If you don't want your bad practices made public, clean up your act.
+15 # Anarchist 23 2014-03-02 14:43
So you can't film Big Ag CAFOs that mistreat all the animals but you can 'film' me on the net, on the phone, mailed letters via the PO etc. All values have become inverted...and hardly anyone notices! The Evil Magicians have least until the ecosphere disintegrates which will happen quite soon now. Lies are Truth, War is Peace, Hate is Love! USSA!USSA! USSA!
+11 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-03-02 15:01
Vote these corporate leeches out of government. Wake up America. Take back "our" government.
+13 # Jim Young 2014-03-02 15:45
My grandfather came from a family of dairymen, had his own dairy farm then became a dairy inspector for Massachusetts, inspecting farms that sold milk to our state. He traveled though several adjoining states, not only inspecting, but educating farmers and helping them avoid being tricked into buying overpriced equipment for the size operations they could sustain.

I think he would be utterly disgusted with Bob Naerebout and the Idaho Dairymens Association and the gutting of any and all methods to keep our food sources safer than say China's worst examples.

Consider also that if we let TPP get anywhere near passing (or Fast Track reauthorised) such rules could be the lowest common denominator gutting any protection from such hidden processes from any of the parties to the "Partnership" in corporate crimes against nature and natural people
+12 # Vegan_Girl 2014-03-02 16:50
This is what laws look like when the criminals are in charge.
+11 # ReconFire 2014-03-02 16:59
Any respectable farmer wouldn't mind his or her operation being filmed. Corporate Farmers win again.
+8 # rose528 2014-03-02 17:43
+7 # jimallyn 2014-03-02 18:47
Guess I'll have to boycott Idaho potatoes. Not that I mind, Washington State grows better potatoes than Idaho, anyway.
+4 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-03-03 08:54
First, how can this abysmal law stand up against the First Amendment? Second, whom does it protect except the wilfully cruel? Third, what’s next?

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