Last week a federal judge deemed an Idaho law criminalizing undercover investigations in agriculture facilities unconstitutional. It's the first time a judge has struck down what is known as an "ag-gag" law.
Idaho enacted the law in February of last year, after an undercover video was released by an activist group. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill says that law limits and punishes those who speak out on topics relating to the agricultural industry.
Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO Kay Johnson Smith says those laws are in place to protect farm business, and there are laws that protect other businesses from groups trying to harm their work.
She says, "Many businesses have privacy laws to protect trademark, to protect special operations that they do. You can just look at Apple or Microsoft or Google for instance. Companies that have privacy laws that protect them from outside sources coming in who are trying to disparage or manipulate their businesses and keep in mind that farms are businesses as well."
Smith says, "My question back to the court is how about the freedom to operate your business without the fear of potentially hiring undercover activists whose sole purpose is to create or find a problem, only to make a video. These individuals fail to report concerns they have to the owners."
Iowa attempted to create similar legislation several years ago. However, activists and legislators managed to gut the final passage of the bill, which had included limiting video and audio taken at facilities. Iowa law only says it is a misdemeanor to get access to an agriculture facility through false pretenses.