Following votes of approval from both the Idaho House and Senate, but also opposition from a Statehouse protest, 113,000 signatures on petitions and even a letter from PETA and game show icon Bob Barker, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed the so-called "ag gag" bill into law.
The bill aims to crack down on whistleblowers who are not employed by an agricultural production facility or anyone who obtains employment with such an operation through misrepresentation. If said persons were to obtain records or enter an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public, or "make audio or video recordings of the conduct" at that facility, they would face a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison. Additionally, the guilty party would pay twice the value of damages to the agricultural facility.
In signing the bill into law, Otter said the measure “is about agriculture producers being secure in their property and their livelihood.”
But Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals, said Otter was "bowing to pressure from the corporate factory-farming interests."
"Gov. Otter betrayed the will of his constituents and the majority of Americans who strongly oppose efforts to criminalize whistleblowers who dare to expose cruelty and corruption on Idaho's farms," wrote Runkle. "Clearly Gov. Otter knows that Idaho's factory farmers have a lot to hide from the American people if he is willing to go to such despicable lengths to conceal their cruel and abusive practices."