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Still from Mercy for Animals video

Permission to Abuse Animals: Idaho's 'Ag-Gag' Bill Signed Into Law

New law will allow "animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination to flourish undetected, unchallenged, and unaddressed."

Andrea Germanos

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed into law on Friday legislation that criminalizes those who secretly document abuse of animals at agricultural facilities.

The widely opposed bill, SB 1337, came about following an undercover video released by animal welfare group Mercy for Animals that showed workers torturing cows.

The bill had the backing of the state's $2.5 billion dairy industry.

Otter issued a statement that "Senate Bill 1337 is about agriculture producers being secure in their property and their livelihood."

But as journalist and Green Is the New Red author Will Potter explained, the bill means "the whistleblowers who exposed the cruelty face criminal penalties worse than those who committed the abuse."

Mercy For Animals founder and executive director Nathan Runkle denounced Otter's signing of the bill, stating that the "new law will now throw shut the doors to industrial factory farms and allow animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination to flourish undetected, unchallenged, and unaddressed."

The so-called ag-gag law will "perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers' rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply," Runkle stated. "This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production."

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