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Idaho's 'Ag-Gag' Bill Fines and Locks Up Animal Advocates

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The state of Idaho’s Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter recently signed the latest so-called “Ag-Gag”  bill that will charge anyone who secretly films animal abuse at Idaho’s agricultural facilities. They will receive a $5,000 fine, and face up to a one year prison sentence. Idaho is the seventh state in the nation to criminalize the making of hidden audio or video recordings, or the obtaining of records from agricultural operations, inside farm facilities. Lying on an employment application for such a farm is also outlawed.

It is uncanny that Otter is a rancher, and wants to suppress those who have the welfare of farm animals at heart. “My signature today reflects my confidence in their desire to responsibly act in the best interest of the animals on which that livelihood depends,” Otter wrote in a statement. The govenor, is only interested in the well-being of the animals, insofar, as it benefits the livelihood of those working in the meat and dairy industry.

Otter even had the audacity to say that “No animals rights organization cares more or has more at stake than Idaho farmers and ranchers do in ensuring that their animals are healthy, well-treated and productive.” His statement is very contradictory, as on the one hand he claims that he wants to ensure that the animals are healthy and well looked after, while on the other hand, he wants to slap jail time on anyone who is willing to investigate the premises, where the animals are held.

American animal rights organization, Mercy For Animals (MFA), immediately opposed Otter’s bill: “Gov. Otter has failed Idaho and the American people,” said the group’s founder, and executive director, Nathan Runkle. “By signing this bill into law, he has sided with those who seek to keep Idaho’s corrupt factory farming practices hidden from public view and created a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity in the state.” It is a consumer’s rights to know what kind of facility their food comes comes from, and how animals are abused on factory farms,so that they can make informed choices, said Runkle.

“The purpose of the bill was not to hide anything, the purpose of the bill was to address those who get on agriculture operations under false pretenses, with a predetermination to cause injury and economic harm,” said Bob Naerebout, who heads the Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA), that promoted the measure. “The dairy producers of Idaho — and dairy producers across this nation — take extremely good care of their cattle.”

“Mercy For Animals is exploring all legal avenues to overturn this dangerous, unconstitutional, and un-American law,” said Runkle. “This is a sad day for animals, consumers, the constitution, and the media… Idaho’s flawed and misdirected new law will now throw shut the doors to industrial factory farms and allow animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination to flourish undetected, unchallenged, and unaddressed.”

Pleas to the governor to veto the bill also poured in from other activist groups, and notable public figures alike, including former “Price Is Right” host, Bob Barker.

According to Mercy for Animals, their undercover investigations, as well as, those performed by other groups “have led to landmark corporate animal welfare policy reforms, new and improved laws to protect farmed animals and the environment, felony convictions of animal abusers, increased consumer protection and food safety initiatives, and the closure of particularly corrupt facilities. Without undercover investigations, there are oftentimes no effective watchdogs protecting animals from egregious cruelty in these facilities or the public from serious health violations.”

Otter is putting the health of the public at risk, and condemning people for being compassionate. Also, he is defending the abuse of animals by not allowing investigations, and “gagging’ those who care about the animals, with threats of fines and imprisonment. He obviously views the animals as objects, only here to end up on our plates. Ironically, it appears that being well treated includes being abused, slaughtered, and raped, as are animals used in the meat and dairy industry. Compassion and caring for the well-being of others, is now punishable by law.

Check out this video from Mercy for Animals. We think it will make things quite clear.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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  • Vgan Tierverteidiger

    Good article, Joan.

    This is no different than issuing a gag order against those who investigate child abusers who lure minors over the internet or those who consume and distribute child pornography, because often times it requires a degree of pretense. How else does one nab these perpetrators? And SHAME on Governor Otter and SHAME on Bob Naerebout for ignoring MFA’s undercover investigations and instead proceeding to claim that “The dairy producers of Idaho — and dairy producers across this nation — take extremely good care of their cattle.” – Is sexual, physical, and mental abuse part of care-taking?

    The people of Idaho – WAKE UP!

  • ericmills

    This horrendous law will likely end up in the courts and be overturned. In the interim, let Gov. Otter hear from (keeping in mind that he’s a rancher):

    Gov. Butch Otter
    700 West Jefferson, #228
    Boise, ID 83720
    tel. 208/334-2100
    fax 208/334-3454
    email – governor@gov.idaho.gov

  • “Awareness is bad for the meat business. Conscience is bad for the meat
    business. Sensitivity to life is bad for the meat business. DENIAL (and secrecy), however, the meat business finds indispensable.”
    -John Robbins, Diet for a New America

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