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‘Interference with Agriculture’ Act on Fast Track in Idaho

After an easy 23-10 vote Friday in the state Senate, Idaho is halfway home to passing the nation’s seventh so-called “ag-gag” law. Action to send the “Interference with Agriculture” act to Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s desk could come as early as this week in the Idaho House of Representatives. The GOP controls the House by 57-13.

Senate Bill 1337’s quick sailing through the Gem State’s upper house has national animal-rights activists on full alert.

“S1337 would make it a crime, punishable by imprisonment, to simply photograph or videotape abusive, unsanitary or otherwise unethical activity on a farm,” Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals wrote Sunday in a guest editorial published in the Twin Falls, ID, Times-News.

“Even employees and journalists who take photos or video to document misconduct on farms could face criminal prosecution if the bill is passed, whether it’s mistreatment of animals, food safety hazards, worker safety violations, sexual harassment, financial embezzlement, or environmental crimes,” Runkle added.

In 2012, Mercy for Animals produced a video documenting animal abuse at an Idaho dairy.

The Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA), along with other mainstream Idaho agricultural groups, is now pushing S1337.

“It will be heard in the House,” IDA Executive Director Bob Naerebout said. “And, yes, we strongly support the legislation.”

Naerebout also told Food Safety News that the reason the first bill introduced, S1298, was replaced with S1337 was to include language to distinguish between property that is “not open to the public” and that which is “publicly owned.”

State Sen. Jim Patrick (R-Twin Falls) is the sponsor of both the original bill and the replacement. Patrick’s district is at the center of Idaho’s rapidly growing $2.5-billion dairy industry.

The Humane Society of the United States has defined “ag-gag” bills as having three common elements: Banning taking a photo or video of a factory farm without permission, making it a crime for an investigator to get work (by falsifying a job application) at a factory farm, and requiring mandatory reporting with impossibly short timelines so that no pattern of abuse can be documented.

Like other “ag-gag” laws, the Idaho bill is so broadly written that it has raised First Amendment concerns. State and national media organizations have intervened in a challenge to a similar Utah law brought by animal rights groups. A ruling in that case could come in May.

Last year, the Tennessee Legislature passed similar legislation, only to see it vetoed by GOP Gov. Bill Haslam.

© Food Safety News
  • ag gag law is big ag at it’s finest hour. every consumer out there should be standing up and fighting this with everything they have. remember, if not for some of these actions, we would not have known that dead stock downer cows, the most high risk cattle for mad cow type disease and other dangerous pathogens, were fed to our children all across the Nation, from state to state, county to county, school to school, for 4 years, our children were fed these dead stock downer cows via the USDA NSLP. and just like this recall we speak of here today, they boast about ”no reported illness to date”. for Gods sake, the mad cow type agent tse prion can lay dormant, incubating, while still being spread via the medical and surgical arena, this agent can lay dormant for up to 50 years in some cases. when the USDA et al makes such statements ”no reported illness to date”, it is a red herring. these officials no exactly what the tse prion will do, how long it takes to do it, and when they make such ”no reported illness to date”, it is a deception. not quite a lie, but as close as you can come to one, without outright lying. if this ag gag law, or any ag gag law goes into effect, the consumer looses. …

    • Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

      BY signing this bill, Gov. C.L. Butch Otter signed, every consumer out
      there will loose. the industry is laughing all the way to the bank.


      IF not for these undercover videos, we would have never know that for 4
      years, our children all across the nation, from state to state, county to
      county, and school to school, the NSLP via USDA inc, fed or children the most
      high risk cattle for mad cow type disease, and other deadly pathogens, they fed
      them dead stock downer cows, and then hid this 50 year nightmare (incubation for
      cjd up to 50 years), under the guise of a recall for animal abuse, one of the
      largest meat recalls in USA history was ordered. I ask again, what about child
      abuse ?

      OR, recently again, by another secret video, cattle with cancer, sick and
      diseases cattle, from a more recent recall. cattle with cancer of the eyes,
      heads chopped off, no problem, no cancer no more, put them in commerce, and feed
      them out.

      Thursday, February 27, 2014



      Monday, March 3, 2014

      Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho signs bill that will force consumers to
      eat dead stock downers and whatever else the industry decides


  • crs

    It’s ridiculous! Why hasn’t the Supreme Court struck down any of these laws yet?

  • Your1Friend

    These evil gag laws are not only immoral but profoundly unconstitutional.

  • BenedictHawthorne

    Right now, the issue concerning what is and is not ethical to eat is beginning to become unignorable. From a naturalistic viewpoint, it can be said that the major meat producers are both leaving nasty carbon footprints along with treating their animals with minimal care for their well being and therefore should be boycotted. Although it sounds like a good idea on paper, this philosophy has never gained enough support to make a noticeable difference. The reason behind this is simply due to the fact that America needs these mass producers of meat in order to supply America’s massive demand for the meat. This demand is becoming too large. Major farms are running out of space to put their animals. When that does happen, these farms try to fit more animals into the space that they have to work with, leading ultimately to animal cruelty. It’s either keep up with demand, or go out of business; losing thousands of dollars in the process.

    Taking all of this into consideration, the search for a solution to this problem is becoming a necessity if business are going to continue producing meat, which they will. To be blunt but true, there is nothing we can do to counter these “ag-gag” laws. They’re too powerful and have too much money backing them. If people are to end animal cruelty in food factories, the problem must be approached with a financial solution, or the food industries simply will not listen. The meat producing industries are fully centered on profits, therefore the only way to change how they treat their animals and how much of a carbon footprint they impact onto the environment is by proposing a solution that resolves those following major problems while at the same time proving to be a gain in profits to the industries who would incorporate this resolution within their meat producing operations. This near utopia of a solution is called Biological Engineering. The new idea that meat can be grown via the use of stem cells within a lab can revolutionize the way industries produce meat while at the same time keeping up with the demand for this meat Americans so vigorously crave.

    This resolution would eliminate massive farms, the risk of animal cruelty, and a massive reduction of meat industry’s carbon footprint. The only reason this has not been implemented is due to the controversial debates considering stem cell research that has paralyzed it’s scientific emergence into the world, simple publicity of the resolution is extremely lacking, and the lack of appeal a career of biologically engineered foods presents. The amazing fact that can be derived out of all of this is that most of the major problems hindering this massive leap in ethical meat production are moral problems. Once these are resolved, then the initiation of biological engineering meat begins.

  • blue crane

    wow. This is scary. In other words, even if people die from bad meat and animals are tortured needlessly, the industry gets a green light. Out of sight, out of mind. An industry that has nothing to hide would welcome scrutiny. The impact of these mega agri businesses is profound to the health of the planet and its’ people. I do hope this bill never sees the light of day. These are draconian times and we are moving backwards into a feudal society where empathy is unknown and money is all that matters.

  • Sylvia Gourmande

    It truly is deplorable that any establishment in this nation would serve food to the public whose origins and upbringing must be concealed. Our ignorance of these conditions keep us out of control of our health and the environment where we live; we may refer to countless cases of foodborne illness; methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide emissions from factory farms; and the lagoons of liquefied animal waste that daunt us from afar on factory farmlands(http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/09/mishka-henner-factory-farms/#slideid-410981) for proof.

    We must not merely refrain from advocating for the protection of these atrocities, but actively resist them with exposure and a financially, medically, and ecologically appealing alternative. Small but numerous ethical farms show obvious potential as a solution. Joel Salatin, the owner and farmer of Polyface farms, runs a comparatively utopian farm. He pastures his animals, which in and of itself removes middlemen in his system: fertilizing pastures(cow manure), feed for the animals(natural grass, which cows evolved eating; not to mention that it is self-replenishing and virtually free), chemical meat treatment(open pastures prevent the buildup of toxins in the animals’ environment — and their meat — and reduces incidents of E. Coli and other infections, meaning no need for treatment), and maintenance of vegetation surrounding the farm(cows are great lawn-mowers). His methods eliminate the need to purchase and maintain expensive, high-maintenance, and environmentally detrimental machinery, and to keep workers quiet about cruel practices. Hygienic and simple practices also deter most negative public scrutiny and food poisoning lawsuits.

    “Ag-gag” laws protect factory farming organizations that threaten to put these precious organizations out of business, repeatedly compromise public health, and continuously and permanently destroy our resources. If the government will not act in the interests of their governed, we must act on our own behalf.

    • Provo Respon

      I read your post. These corporate farming companies are hiding things from the general public, but why? Are they not completely proud of what lies inside their factories? What is with this need to conceal these horrid atrocities away from us? Should they not be the ones trying to please us, the consumers?

      It upsets me that these companies decide to keep these kinds of truths undiscovered, all for the sake of attempting to please the customer through any means of making their labor an ease, yet on the contrary, it actually hurts and disgusts us more.

      I may not be very familiar with the American customs regarding the level of freedom, but I can tell that here, we must respect the privacy rights of these companies, since we do so much to protect our own privacies as well, being such activists for our own welfare. However, what these companies do can be seen as almost “evil,” or “wrong.” That is when that moral belief of privacy must not need to be abided by.

      Now, I read that a man by the name of George Steinmetz was arrested simply for taking photographs of the cows on one of the farms in Kansas. Why does he have to be punished for revealing the skewed, unattractive, secrets of these feedlots. As user Independent Tom has said earlier on your attached article, “the public has a right to know from where its food originates.” We may be scrutinizing too much, but it is for the safety of the consumer. Do we really want to eat meat that comes from a place like these, as the photos from Sylvia’s link represent?

      These Ag-gag laws are absurd. Although America is the country where people have basic human personal rights and privacy, there are things that must be brought up if it is right to do so. Particularly if it hurts others. You can keep a secret about being a homosexual or a nocturnal ice skater, but it would probably kill hundreds or thousands of people to keep a secret about the dirty and polluted environment your livestock, which you will soon feed to the public, live in. People who reveal these scandalous things are the heroes, right? We shouldn’t have these strange laws that indirectly prohibit the protection of the security of the public. The Ag-Gag laws are absurd and there is no point in expelling the whistleblowers from the society and locking them up, because the photos of the secrets they uncover behind those “employees only doors” you see at restaurants and stores will inevitably be revealed anyway.