'Ag-Gag' Now Law in Idaho

By Paige Browning

Idaho’s governor has approved the ag-gag bill. Activists who discretely film animal abuse at Idaho agricultural facilities can be punished with up to a year in jail.

Governor Butch Otter signed the law today, after it got support in both legislative chambers, but collected widespread public opposition.  The bill was promoted by the dairy industry, and was spurred by videos that the group Mercy for Animals released in 2012, which showed workers at Bettencourt Dairy beating, stomping and sexually abusing cows.

Idaho's $2.5 billion dairy industry complained the group used its videos not to curb abuse, but to unfairly hurt Bettencourt's business. Otter, a rancher himself, said the measure "is about agriculture producers being secure in their property and their livelihood."

Thursday, former game show host Bob Barker asked Otter to veto the bill. On Friday, the CEO of Chobani wrote to Otter asking for a veto, saying it would limit transparency, and conflicts with the company's views and values. Chobani is the country’s largest greek yogurt company and has a major plant in Idaho.

With the bill now a law, people caught secretly filming agricultural operations face a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
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