Idaho Bill Criminalizing Videotaping of Agricultural Operations Targets Opponents of Animal Abuse
The agricultural industry in Idaho is pushing a bill in the state legislature that would prevent activists from recording mistreatment of farm animals.
SB 1337, which has cleared a state senate committee, would prohibit unauthorized video recordings on agricultural facilities. The industry has labeled such activity “ag terrorism.”
“There is an anti-animal agricultural agenda, which goes to great lengths to misrepresent what happens in our industry,” Jared Brackett, president of the Idaho Cattle Association, told the Twin Falls Times-News.
If the legislation becomes law, violators could face a fine of $5,000 and one year in prison. The bill also targets farm whistleblowers who attempt to document events without authorization by their employer.
Critics point out that the “ag gag” measure comes after an animal rights group used undercover footage to expose animal abuse at Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen, Idaho, two years ago.
That footage showed employees dragging a cow by its neck using a chain and tractor, workers hitting and kicking milk cows, and one employee caning a cow.
“I think the video speaks to itself,” Boise resident Sue Brooks told the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Now, if the employee stepped forward without that video, would that employee be believed? Do you see any cattleman here today believing that would have happened?”
Matt Dominguez, public policy manager for the Humane Society, said there are “good farmers in Idaho,” but “there are bad apples and you need a tool to root those out.”
Idaho is not the first state to adopt laws targeting animal rights activists involved in farm operations. Utah, Montana, and Kansas have passed similar bills. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal rights groups have challenged Utah’s law in court as a violation of free speech by making it illegal to gather evidence of animal abuse.
To Learn More:
Ag-Gag Bill Banning Video Recording Moves Forward (by Drew Nash, Twin Falls Times-News)
Disputed 'Ag Gag Bill' Advances in Idaho Senate (by Jon Miller, Associated Press)
Animal Rights Groups Sue Utah over Law Criminalizing Undercover Photography of Farm Abuse (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
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