Today, a federal judge struck down Idaho’s controversial ag-gag law as unconstitutional.
The ag-gag law was enacted in direct response to a 2012 undercover investigation by MFA documenting horrific animal cruelty and neglect at Bettencourt Dairies, Idaho’s largest dairy factory farm.
That investigation, which documented workers viciously beating and shocking cows, violently twisting their tails, and even sexually abusing cows, led to charges of criminal animal cruelty against multiple Bettencourt Dairies workers, including a manager, and spurred significant animal welfare policy reforms by major food suppliers.
In 2014, pro-factory farming legislators and Idaho governor “Butch Otter enacted an ag-gag law to ban filming inside factory farms and criminalize the brave whistleblowers who speak out against animal cruelty and other criminal activity occurring inside of Idaho’s agricultural facilities.
In response to a legal challenge brought by a coalition of animal protection, food safety, and civil liberties groups, Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the district of Idaho held that the law violates the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Based on today’s ruling, Idaho’s ag-gag law is no longer in effect.
You can watch MFA’s Idaho dairy investigation here:
Judge Winmill’s decision is the first step towards restoring transparency in U.S. food production, and we hope that dangerous ag-gag laws enacted in other states will be swiftly struck down as a result of today’s decision.
Idaho’s lawmakers should be ashamed of wasting precious time and valuable resources enacting unconstitutional laws that threaten animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights, and the environment. We hope they will now focus their efforts on improving animal welfare and rewarding the brave whistleblowers who uncover criminal activity in Idaho’s agricultural operations.
This ruling should also be a wake-up call to the meat industry that attempts to keep consumers in the dark about where their food comes from will not be tolerated.
For more information, please visit NoAgGag.com.