In a move that won’t make many friends within Idaho’s dairy farming community, Chobani Yogurt is opposing a proposed Ag Security bill that strengthens Idaho trespass laws.
"Chobani is turning its back on all of Idaho dairymen and deeply tarnished its image with all of state agriculture," says Bob Naerebout, executive director of the Idaho Dairymen's Association.
If approved, the bill would allow under-cover activists subject to prosecution if they publish video of dairy farms without the owner’s permission. According to the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, the bill would cover:
• Wrongful entry and criminal trespass
• Theft of records
• Obtaining employment by wrongful means
• Making recordings of workplace activities without the owner’s consent
• Intentionally interfering with the farming operations
The bill cleared the state House of Representatives earlier this week on a 56-14 vote, and is now awaiting action by Gov. Butch Otter. It was passed by the state Senate 25-10 earlier this month. The Governor is expected to make his decision on the bill today.
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Chobani, is urging the Governor to veto the bill. Chobani opened a major Greek yogurt plant in Idaho last year. In his statement released today, Ulukaya said:
"A bill is up for approval in Idaho that, if passed, would limit transparency and make some instances of exposing the mistreatment of animals in the state punishable by imprisonment. This could cause the general public concern and conflicts with our views and values.
"As someone who grew up on a farm, I believe deeply that the humane treatment of animals is an ethical and moral imperative and, having spent a lot of time in upstate New York and Idaho, I know hundreds of farmers feel the same.
"When I founded Chobani, it was based around these core values and principles. And we chose Idaho for Chobani's second home because of its deep farming culture, sense of community and shared values. So I am joining many folks across the country in asking Governor Otter to reconsider the bill before him."