Court Says No To Gagging Those Who Reveal Farm Animal Abuse

Emilio Cogliani

A hard-to-watch video, filmed in 2012 by undercover investigators with Mercy for Animals, shows Idaho dairy farm workersviciously abusing cows.

The state’s response: It charged the workerswith misdemeanorsand then caved to the meat and dairy industrywith a 2014 law that makes whistleblowing on farms a crime punishablewith a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.

On Monday, a federal judgestruck downIdaho’s anti-whistleblower law, finding that it violates the First and 14th Amendments. This is the first time such an “ag-gag” statute has been successfully challenged.

Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmillexcoriated the law. “The effect of the statute will be to suppress speech by undercover investigators and whistleblowers concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities…

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