Those who plan to film animal treatment at Idaho’s agriculture facilities may want to reconsider. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law a bill aimed at hampering such secret filming and recording.

Otter signed the bill just two days after it arrived at his desk. Previously, both the House and Senate threw in their support for the measure, the House passing it 56-14, the Senate 23-10. The bill punishes for up to a year in jail those who are caught filming or recording without permission on ag facilities.

“That's double the maximum penalty for animal cruelty under Idaho law,” according to an article by Katie Terhune in the Idaho Statesman.

The bill, dubbed the “ag gag bill” by its opponents, is promoted heavily by the state’s dairy industry and is prompted by a video secretly recorded at an Idaho dairy in 2012 by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals, depicting animal abuse at the facility.

Gem State dairymen are happy about the bill because it “halts media-savvy activists from unfairly damaging the reputation of Idaho farmers using ill-gotten footage of wrongdoing,” the article reads. “The Mercy for Animals group responsible for the videos, for example, continued to release and publicize the recordings even after the workers who abused dairy cows were fired and prosecuted. …”


The bill is not without opposition. The group spoke out against Otter's signature, the Associated Press reported, saying that it transforms Idaho into "a safe haven for animal abuse."

Dairy proponents say the group has it all wrong. While there are rare cases of animal abuse, the group promotes it as a common occurrence, giving dairy producers and other agriculture workers a needless black eye. Also, the AP reports, both the University of Idaho Extension and College of Southern Idaho have developed a program to help teach dairy workers about proper animal care, milking, calf raising and feeding dairy animals.

Three other states – Arizona, Indiana and New Hampshire – have considered similar legislation in 2014, reads a report by Cindy Galli for ABC News. Eleven other states introduced bills in 2013, but none of them passed. PD

—Summarized by PD staff from cited sources