Idaho Silences Animal Cruelty Whistleblowers: Is Your State Next?

Despite widespread opposition and the release of yet more footage showing animal abuse, Idaho’s Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed an ag gag bill into law on Friday that could result in jail time and fines for undercover investigators.

Idaho’s bill was pushed as an “agricultural security measure” that was intended to protect farmers from trespassers, theft, wrongful employment and recordings taken undercover. Animal advocates, however, believe it was pushed in response to an undercover investigation at Bettencourt Dairy that was released by Mercy for Animals (MFA) in 2012 and was followed last week by more footage that shows cows being sexually abused.

“Governor Otter has failed Idaho and the American people. By signing this bill into law, he has sided with those who seek to keep Idaho’s corrupt factory farming practices hidden from public view and created a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity in the state. Mercy For Animals is exploring all legal avenues to overturn this dangerous, unconstitutional, and un-American law,” said MFA’s founder and executive director, Nathan Runkle, in a statement.

Numerous undercover investigations by organizations including MFA have brought to light the horrors animals in agriculture face, both legal and illegal, in addition to raising awareness about food production practices that consumers have every right to know about. They have led to changes in laws, convictions for cruelty and have opened the public’s eyes to the many problems associated with animal agriculture. Without them our ability to make informed decisions or generate a dialogue about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to animal agriculture is stripped away.

Aside from the sadistic cruelty and illegal activities that have been documented, these investigations have helped raise awareness about standard industry practices that don’t seem to fit in with the mainstream values of many Americans who may otherwise remain unaware that doing things like killing newborn piglets by slamming their heads into the ground is considered the norm.

Not only do these laws threaten animal welfare, but they also threaten the environment, food safety, workers’ rights and free speech. It’s shameful that our lawmakers are taking such a heavy handed approach to shield agribusinesses from any accountability whatsoever – essentially allowing the industry to police itself – while simultaneously trying to punish those who seek only to expose the suffering endured by farm animals and to educate the public about the horrors that go on behind closed doors. Unfortunately, if you blow the whistle on problems and interfere with an animal enterprise, you are the terrorist.

Montana, Kansas and North Dakota each passed some form of an ag gag law in the 1990s and were joined more recently by Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, South Carolina and Utah. Utah’s law is now being challenged in federal court. New Hampshire tried and failed this year, while three other states have legislation pending.

While it’s a sad day in Idaho for animals, and anyone who has an interest in knowing where their food comes from, there’s still a chance to stop these kinds of bills from passing in other states.


Indiana’s SB 101 will increase the penalty for exposing abuses if a farm operator suffers any monetary losses. Some believe it is even more dangerous than the state’s previous attempt because it allows farm operators to post signs prohibiting specific actions and makes it a felony to do anything that farmers have prohibited. In short, it will allow farmers, not law enforcement, to determine what constitutes a crime.

Please sign and share the petition opposing Indiana’s ag gag bill.


Arizona’s bill, HB 2587, removes “livestock,” including horses, from the state’s definition of animal, which will weaken protection for them, and gives authority over cruelty cases to the Department of Agriculture. It also includes a five day reporting requirement that will ensure that no patterns of abuse can be established by investigators.

Please sign and share the petition opposing Arizona’s ag gag bill.


Nebraska’s LB 204 would make it illegal to “interfere” with an agricultural operation and will effectively shut down investigations by imposing a 24-hour reporting requirement.

Please sign and share the petition opposing Nebraska’s ag gag bill.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

Indiana Petition closed, Arizona & Nebraska signed, thanks for sharing :)

Valerie A.
Valerie A.1 years ago

Indiana Petition closed, Arizona & Nebraska signed

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

All 3 petitions signed.

Then, I made the mistake of watching the video - now, I have tears for all the animals! I don't eat much meat now, but I will try to become a vegetarian!!

Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

Start digging into the sordid background of this "Governer" of Idaho. All kinds of tidbits will show up, I'll bet he's into stalking and abusing kids on playgrounds, among other heinous criminal acts

Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

This should stop nobody and should be the catalyst for THOUSANDS to infiltrate the Idahao criminal Agribusiness houses of atrocity and crime, to document and photograph, post on youtube, redouble your efforts to expose those monsters is the only answer to this.

Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago

Sadly noted.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H.2 years ago

These abuses are disgusting and need to be watch. Ag-gag bills must be stopped and repealed.

carolyne morgan
shaela strata2 years ago


carolyne morgan
shaela strata2 years ago

Remember human slavery, it was banned, this is EXACTLY the same type of enslavement.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women's Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?