In their rush to protect farmers from adverse publicity, Idaho legislators enacted an unconstitutional, “staggeringly overbroad” muzzle of free speech and investigative reporting, ruled U.S. appeals court judges in Seattle.
A coalition of consumer, free speech and animal rights groups filed suit in federal court in Des Moines to challenge the constitutionality of Iowa's "ag gag" law, enacted in 2012. Iowa is the No. 1 state for hog and egg production and the largest target yet by campaigners against state laws that criminalize undercover employment on farms and at packing plants.
After courtroom victories in Utah and Idaho, "expect challenges in the Midwest to so-called 'ag gag' laws that criminalize certain forms of data collection and recording on farms and ranches," reports Harvest Public Media. University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau says, "Laws in states like Iowa and Kansas are crying out for a challenge at this point," adding that animal rights groups are preparing challenges in at least two states.
Utah could soon become the first state to make it illegal to harass livestock with drones. Passed unanimously by the House, HB217 would make it a class B misdemeanor to harangue livestock with drones, ATVs or dogs, says The Deseret News.
President-elect Donald Trump is considering Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for secretary of agriculture, despite his record — or maybe because of it — of opposing animal rights activists, says Politico. In Idaho, Otter signed the country’s toughest “ag gag” law, which carries up to a year in jail and a maximum fine $5,000 if a person is caught using a fake ID to access a farm and then film the activities there.
A Utah federal judge is deciding whether a state ban on hidden cameras in slaughterhouses defies the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The case could set a national precedent.
Perdue will no longer require farmers to request permission before visually or audibly documenting their chicken operations, says Tom Philpott in Mother Jones.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. appellate court in San Francisco to overturn a federal district court ruling that the state's "ag gag" law is unconstitutional. Idaho is among half a dozen states with laws intended to prevent activists from using identity fraud to get hired on farms or to make undercover videos, and it is first state to lose in court, said Food Safety News.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that an Idaho law that bans secret filming of animal abuse on farms is unconstitutional, said the Associated Press.