Many people were horrified to see undercover video in 2012 of cows being beaten and sexually abused by workers at Bettencourt Dairies, one of Idaho's largest dairy operations. The video, recorded by someone from the animal rights group Mercy for Animals, led to the prosecution of some employees at the dairy. It also led to a new law in Idaho, passed last week, making it illegal for anyone to secretly record dairy and farm operations.
Idaho's new so-called "Ag Gag" law carries with it a one-year jail sentence and a $5,000 fine. Opponents say the new law will shelter animal abusers while supporters argue it will protect the right to privacy for farmers and dairy operators.
"My signature today reflects my confidence in their desire to responsibly act in the best interest of the animals on which that livelihood depends," wrote Idaho Governor C.L. Otter in a statement published on the Idaho Statesman website. "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."
The bill was supported by most, but not all, dairy operators in Idaho.
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of the Greek yogurt company Chobani, said the law went against his company's values and would limit transparency in the industry. Chobani operates a $450 million plant in Idaho.
To date, 15 states have proposed "Ag Gag" legislation. Idaho is the first to pass a measure into law.
Will passage of so-called "Ag Gag" laws help or hurt the image of farmers in the eyes of consumers?