Idaho agriculture has brought out a big gun to help get a challenge to the state’s so-called “ag-gag” law thrown out of federal court. In an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief, Idaho agricultural groups are asking the U.S. District Court in Boise to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the Gem State by a collection of animal rights organizations. In the brief, they say the 2014 law was passed by the Idaho Legislature and signed by Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter because of the need to protect the value and importance of Idaho agriculture. To illustrate their point, the Idaho ag groups quote legendary radio newsman Paul Harvey’s speech entitled, “So God made a farmer.” Harvey, who dominated radio news for a half-century by broadcasting on 1,200 ABC stations from Chicago, wrote the salute to farmers in 1978, but speech being excerpted in a 2014 Super Bowl commercial exposed it to new generations. The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Inc., Idaho Heartland Coalition, Food Producers of Idaho Inc. and the Idaho Cattle Association are represented in the brief by the Boise law firm of Moffatt, Thomas, Barrett, Rock & Fields. Together they are supporting the state’s demand that the lawsuit filed last March 17 be dismissed. The attorney for the four Idaho ag groups, Norman M. Semanko, says the objective of the Idaho Legislature was the protection of the state’s $8-billion farm and ranch economy. “The claims of the Plaintiffs and their amicus supporters that the legislation was prompted by animus are badly off the mark, no matter how often they repeat these claims in court filings, press releases, television commercials, or fundraising materials,” Semanko wrote. “Wrongful conduct that threatens Idaho agriculture and its component families and communities was clearly the Legislature’s target, regardless of who the perpetrator might be,” he continued. “The fact that a certain group or individual may have served as an illustrative example of the need for such legislation does not change that.” Semanko says the purpose of Senate Bill 1337 was made “concise and clear” before it was passed and signed into law. “The purpose of this legislation is to protect agriculture production facilities from interference by wrongful conduct by providing penalties for such conduct and restitution to an injured agricultural producer,” he states. Semanko says the purpose is not to attack or malign the plaintiffs or their amicus allies. “The conduct prohibited by the statute is just that — conduct. A plain reading of the statutory language, which is straightforward and direct, makes this clear, “ he adds. “Wrongful conduct includes: Entering a facility by force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass; obtaining records by the same means; obtaining employment by the same means and with the intent to cause economic or other injury; entering a facility that is not open to the public and without the owner’s consent, making recordings of the conduct at the facility’s operations; and intentionally causing physical damage or injury to the facility’s operations.” “These prohibited actions are not speech,” Semanko says. “They are conduct — conduct that has been determined by the Idaho State Legislature to be wrongful.” He also says a film by an animal rights group that was made two years earlier on an Idaho dairy farm was taken “under false pretenses.” Additional releases of the videotape by opponents of the bill during the past session brought death threats to the dairy farmer and his family, even though employee dismissals and prosecutions had already occurred over the earlier incidents of animal abuse. Semanko introduced Harvey’s speech to illustrate the “value and importance of Agriculture.” It goes like this: And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer. God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer. God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’”… So God made a farmer. God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark.” … So God made a farmer. SB 1337 contained an emergency clause, so it became law as soon as Otter signed it on Feb. 28. Less than a month later, the plaintiffs, led by University of Denver Law Professor Justin F. Marceau, filed the lawsuit against it. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are among the top plaintiffs. Many of the same plaintiffs are also challenging Utah’s ag-gag law in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. Both states have filed motions for dismissal of the cases. Media groups have filed amicus briefs opposing dismissal in both cases. Food Safety News detailed those arguments in the Utah case earlier this year. Idaho and Utah are among seven states that have passed so-called “ag-gag” bills since the 1990-1991 legislative season.