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January 6, 2018

Idaho’s Ag-Gag Law Struck Down

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Idaho’s so-called “ag-gag” law, which sought to prevent animal activists from coming on to farms to shoot video, has been struck down by  a 2-1 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, reports Reuters.

The Circuit Court’s decision reversed a lower court ruling upholding the Idaho law, which was enacted in 2014. The Appellate Court decision did uphold a portion of the law that criminalizes making misrepresentations by anyone to obtain records of ag facilities or obtaining employment with the intent to cause harm.

But the main tenant of the law, prohibiting video taping on farms, was struck down as being a “classic example of a content-based restriction that cannot survive strict scrutiny,” wrote Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown. She also said the law was largely “targeted at speech and investigative journalists.”

There are 10 other states with so-called “ag-gag” laws, and it is still unclear what implications the 9th Circuit ruling will have on those laws. But it does suggest ag-gag laws won’t stand-up on constitutional grounds, says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

“It reinforces the approach we are taking with the FARM Program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management),” he says. The only way to prevent these incidents from occurring is using good practices in hiring, training and supervising employees, he says.