The drawn-out fight against Idaho’s anti-whistleblower Ag Gag law resumes tomorrow afternoon with a hearing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho in Boise.
The basic question at hand is whether the statute – which criminalizes would-be whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing on farms via undercover video – is constitutional. The coalition of public interest groups who filed a lawsuit to overturn the Ag Gag measure assert a resounding NO, that it violates rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.
When it comes to Ag Gag, the Food Integrity Campaign is a staunch opponent (as is the public majority). FIC submitted an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit and is actively pushing our federal lawmakers to keep Big Ag from silencing whistleblowers at factory farms.
Here’s an excerpt from our amicus:
This new law will silence those who wish to publicize abusive, unsafe, and unsanitary practices in an industry that has a critical role in public health. More specifically, it will discourage whistleblowers from coming forward out of fear of prosecution. In this way, it conflicts with federal law and policy that encourages whistleblowing as a much needed gap-filler in government oversight and values profits at the expense of the public’s health and safety.
Idaho became the first state to pass an anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bill since 2012. Known for its $2.5 billion dairy industry and a history of anti-transparency legislation, the state evidently has a lot to hide. Even a USDA veterinarian whistleblower from Idaho spoke out against Ag Gag, stating “we can do better than this dangerous law, for animals, farmers and consumers’ sake.”
If the court isn’t beholden to Big Ag, the answer should be pretty clear. This law aims to silence the truth and should be repealed.
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.
This is the first of several videos released as part of FIC’s “Ag Gag Undercover” series to raise awareness about the controversial anti-whistleblower bills introduced in various U.S. states.