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Idaho ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill Clears State Senate, Heads to House

Mercy For Animals Pushes Back With Graphic Video

UPDATE:  After three and one-half hours of  public hearing Thursday, Senate Bill 1337 was sent to the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives by the Agriculture Affairs Committee with a “do pass” recommendation.  

The quick-moving “Agriculture Production Interference” act goes before the Idaho House Agriculture Affairs Committee today, which could be the bill’s last stop before getting the second affirmative floor vote it needs before landing on Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s desk.

The bill cleared the Idaho Senate only last Friday, and it’s moving fast enough to indicate there’s some legislative muscle behind it. In this case, it’s the powerful Idaho Dairymen’s Association and other Gem State agricultural organizations.

Those Idaho agricultural groups are taking on animal-rights groups, including the Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals. In 2012, Mercy first released video of animal cruelty at Idaho’s Bettencourt Dairies. In an attempt to slow the bill, Mercy earlier this week released video it did not make public two years ago showing dairy employees physically and sexually abusing cows.

However, that might not slow the legislative train in Boise.

State Rep. Gayle L. Batt (R-Wilder), co-owner of G&T Farms, and Boise attorney Dan Steenson will present Senate Bill 1337 to the House Agriculture Affairs Committee today at 1:30 p.m. State Rep. Ken Andrus (R-Lava Hot Springs), a southeast Idaho rancher, chairs the 14-member committee, which includes Batt.

Last week, S. 1337 was introduced on Monday, approved by the Senate Ag committee on Tuesday, and passed by the full Senate on a 23-10 vote on Friday.

Animal right groups oppose the bill because they say it will prevent them from making undercover videos of animal cruelty occurring on Idaho farms and ranches. Anyone found guilty of trespassing in order to document animal cruelty could face jail time of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Six states have adopted “ag-gag” laws since 1990-91, and half the laws took effect only in the past two years. The fast-tracking occurring in Idaho is very similar to the way lawmakers in Utah and Iowa passed similar bills in those states once major state agricultural organizations got behind them.

Idaho’s $2.5-billion dairy industry has attracted nearly $1 billion in new investment in the past two years, representing about 5,000 jobs, including those at the largest yogurt plant opened recently in Twin Falls.

© Food Safety News
  • seems they are having problems with the ag gag law passing.

    02.14 FEATURES 24 Change in momentum

    The support that helped pass ag business protection laws in three states in
    2012 fizzled last year, when 15 such bills failed. Time to start thinking about
    a new defense strategy…end…tss


    daaa, ya think. consumers are getting smarter and smarter. we are not going
    to take it anymore…

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    factory farming and the banning of investigative type video reporting is
    just plain stupid


    Friday, April 26, 2013

    INDIANA Republican State Sen. Travis Holdman Senate Bill 373 ag-gag WILL


    kind regards,


  • Gayle

    who cares how many jobs the dairy industry creates; there are so many sickos in the AG industry, being caught on tape abusing, torturing animals. The AG industry should be looking after the welfare of the animals, but OH NO, they only fire someone when they get busted on a secret video doing what they should NOT be doing. Shame on Idaho if they pass this law. What are they afraid of, Dont eat beef, chicken, or drink milk, due to how the animals are treated.
    Why arent dairies watching their employees??

  • David

    This is what I don’t understand:
    1. If the abuse so bad that the animal rights person is video taping it – wouldn’t you want charges brought against that individual immediately? Why wait six months to a year for someone to edit the video to show the worst three minutes out of months of the video. If they are fighting for animal rights why not stop it right then instead of trying to use the video to get donations?
    2. Everyone seems to have this thought that all farmers/ranchers abuse their livestock and if they try to pass laws to protect their livelihood that they are evil. Yes I raise livestock and most of our animals are treated as pets because they help supplement my income. Why would I harm what helps me feed my family?
    3. So go visit your local county fair and visit with the farmers and ranchers in your area you will see that most if them care for their livestock like their family and they are teaching their children to do the same.
    4. There are some people out there that do mean things to kids does that mean that all parents are mean to their children.

    • PFeury

      David, you are right about the abuser being held accountable. I think (hope) most small ranchers treat their animals with care. Factory facilities are another matter altogether.
      Animals in mass settings are more likely to be abused, and this scenario is a magnet for sadistic people who get their kicks by harming livestock and other animals.

  • David

    If the groups want to stop animal abuse why wait months after it happened to show a film? Why not take it to the authorities right then and stop it? Because they want to show the worst that they can to raise more money.