Idaho Governor Chuck Otter signed into law today what may be the toughest ‘ag gag’ law in the nation to prevent animal activist groups from surreptitiously gaining access and filming farm operations.
Known as the Dairy Security Act, the bill covers wrongful entry and criminal trespass onto farms, theft of records, obtaining employment by wrongful means , taking recordings of workplace activities without the owner’s consent and intentionally interfering with the farming operations.
If convicted, individuals face up to $5,000 in fines, a year in jail and financial judgments of up to twice the economic damage they caused, says Bob Naerebout, executive director of the Idaho Dairymen's Association. And, under Idaho "aiding and abetting" laws, organizations that employ such offenders can also be held liable.
The bill cleared the state House of Representatives earlier this week on a 56-14 vote. It was passed by the state Senate 25-10 earlier this month.
In signing the bill, Gov. Otter released the following statement: "Senate Bill 1337 is about agriculture producers being secure in their property and their livelihood. My signature today reflects my confidence in their desire to responsibly act in the best interest of the animals on which that livelihood depends.
"No animal 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."