Idaho to appeal 'ag-gag' ruling

by Erica Shaffer
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BOISE – The attorney general of Idaho has appealed an earlier federal court decision that overturned the state’s law aimed at keeping animal welfare activists from surreptitiously videotaping agricultural operations. The appeal was filed in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Idaho lawmakers passed the so-called “ag-gag” law in March 2014. The bill, which was promoted by the state’s dairy industry, imposes fines jail time to those caught taking hidden-camera videos at agricultural operations. The bill came in response to an undercover video taken at Bettencourt Dairy by Mercy For Animals, a Los Angeles-based animal welfare group. The video, taken in 2013, depicted workers abusing dairy cows.

But in August, US District Court Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled the effect of the law would be to suppress speech by whistleblowers and undercover investigators. Winmill added that the state failed to provide a legitimate reason for why agricultural production facilities warranted more protection from trespass, fraud, defamation and other crimes than other privately owned business.
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