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Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Is Idaho’s Ag Gag Law Constitutional? Lawsuit Takes Anti-Whistleblower Measure to Federal Court

Food Integrity Campaign | March 20, 2014

Last month, Idaho became the first state to pass an anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bill since 2012, a disappointing blow. But transparency in the state (already known for its history of anti-transparency legislation) isn’t going down without a fight!

A group of organizations and journalists filed a lawsuit this week to overturn the law, which criminalizes would-be whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing on farms via undercover video. Truth-tellers could face up to a year in jail, which is double the state’s maximum penalty for animal cruelty.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Idaho’s law, which is clearly aimed at protecting the state’s multi-billion dollar dairy industry. The industry pushed the bill after videos released by Mercy for Animals showed workers at Idaho-based Bettencourt Dairy (one of the largest dairy companies in the U.S.) stomping and sexually abusing cows in 2012.

FIC intends to submit an amicus brief in opposition to the new law.

In a statement, a former USDA veterinarian who has witnessed abuse at Idaho dairy farms said he believes “we can do better than this dangerous law.”


Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.