BOISE — Senate Bill 1337, commonly called the “ag-gag” bill, passed through the House with a 56-14 vote Wednesday, and was signed into law by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter two days later.
“My signature today reflects my confidence in their desire to responsibly act in the best interest of the animals on which that livelihood depends,” Otter said in an official statement. “No animal rights organization cares more or has more at stake than Idaho farmers and ranchers do in ensuring that their animals are healthy, well treated and productive.”
The bill has been promoted by Idaho’s dairy industry, following the leak of a video taken by an animal-rights activist that depicts employees abusing cows at a Southern Idaho dairy.
Founder of the Chobani Greek yogurt company, Hamdi Ulukaya, urged Otter to veto the bill. The yogurt company has a $450 million production plant in Twin Falls and employs 500 people.
Ulukaya said the bill would limit transparency in the industry while punishing whistleblowers, and would also “make some instances of exposing the mistreatment of animals in the state punishable by imprisonment.”
In a tweet, Ulukaya said he thinks proper treatment of animals should be compulsory to keep Idaho’s products at high quality standards.
“As someone who grew up on a farm, I believe how we treat animals is a moral imperative. I hope Gov. Otter vetoes,” Ulukaya said. “We chose Idaho for Chobani’s second home, because of its deep farming culture, sense of community and shared values. So I am joining many folks across the country in asking Governor Otter to reconsider the bill before him.”
Former longtime “Price is Right” host Bob Barker also asked Otter to veto the bill. In a letter, Barker told Otter more than 12 states have attempted to pass similar legislation, but have turned it down.
Barker also said passing the bill could damage Idaho’s reputation across the nation.
Chloe Rambo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org