Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, in his opening debate on SB 1337, the so-called “ag-gag bill,” said, “We’ve seen farm families … intimidated by activists who misrepresent themselves.” Patrick said, “We have many things we do in agriculture that are not agreed upon by all. … We’re potentially all at risk.”
Patrick said when an activist group distributed surreptitious video of severe abuse of cows at a southern Idaho dairyman's operation, “It was no reason, in his mind, other than to destroy his operation.” Patrick, a farmer, said, “These activist groups approach the retail customers and use intimidating and threatening tactics. … We live in the area and we know what goes on, and we know this is not typical at all.”
The bill, sponsored by Patrick and Rep. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder, has 25 legislative co-sponsors. It creates a new crime of "interference with agricultural production," with a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Violators also would have to pay double damages in restitution. The new crime would cover recording anything at an ag production operation without permission; intentionally damaging an ag operation, including crops, animals or equipment; misrepresenting oneself in seeking employment at an ag operation; and obtaining records of an ag operation by "force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass."