Idaho has a $2.5 billion dairy industry … with a lot to hide, apparently. The state Senate passed Idaho’s anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bill (S.1337) last Friday, which would make it a crime to photograph or videotape wrongdoing on a farm.
The state has a history of enacting laws that make it easier for CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) to do business without strict regulation, and this move would simply add to the list. In fact, dairy operators have flocked to Idaho to flee regulations in California, Pennsylvania and elsewhere in recent years.
Should industrial farm whistleblowers be penalized with up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for conveying the truth? According to this Motherboard article, the bill’s sponsor – Sen. Jim Patrick, whose district is at the center of the state’s dairy industry – is “equating the uncovering of abuse and unsafe practices at industrial farms to an all-out war on the food supply, which is just plain silly.”
If anyone is going to point fingers at who is making the industry look bad, it’s the perpetrators committing wrongdoing. They should be the ones facing punishment, not the individuals who are brave enough to expose them. More on why whistleblowers rely on undercover video here.
The bill could go up for a vote in the Idaho House of Representatives any day now. If you live in Idaho, contact your state representative and Gov. Butch Otter immediately and urge opposition to this anti-whistleblower bill!
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.