On February 28, 2014 a new law protecting Idaho farmers and ranchers was signed into law. Idaho Code § 18-7402 now makes it illegal to interfere with agricultural production. Often referred to as the “ag-gag” bill, the law protects Idaho farmers and ranchers and makes it a crime for a person to:
• Enter upon a farm or ranch by force, threat, misrepresentation, or trespass;
• Obtain records of a farm or ranch by force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass;
• Obtain employment by force, threat or misrepresentation with the intent to cause economic injury or other injury to property;
• Without the owners consent, enter a farm or ranch not open to the public and make audio or video recordings; or
• Intentionally cause physical damage or injury to farm operations, livestock, crops, personnel, equipment, buildings or premises
A person found guilty of committing the crime of interference with agricultural production will be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be jailed for up to one year and given a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, any person found guilty of the crime is required to pay restitution in an amount equal to twice the value of the damage resulting from the crime.
Several groups, including The Animal Legal Defense Fund, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho (ACLU) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have sued the State of Idaho claiming that the law is unconstitutional. Idaho has requested that the federal courts dismiss the lawsuit.
Ultimately the Courts will review the law and decide whether Idaho farmers and ranchers are protected from agricultural interference.