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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Provides the evidence,’ ‘Radical groups engaged in terrorism’

As testimony continues at the hearing this afternoon on SB 1337, the ag security bill regarding surreptitious videotaping, six people who were called to testify just said from their seats that they support the bill. Among those who have testified so far:

Dr. Lance Cheney, a veterinarian from Caldwell, said, “These guys would not be in business if they didn’t take care of their cows, pure and simple. … These guys do a fantastic job, and that’s why they’re profitable, and that’s why they’re generating huge revenue for the state.”

Steve Ballard of Ballard Cheese said, “I do not know any dairymen that would abuse the cattle like what we’ve seen on these tapes, it is just absolutely beyond my comprehension. Believe me, if you treat cows like what you see on TV ... they would not produce any milk.”

Russ Hendricks of the Idaho Farm Bureau said, “This is a private property rights issue for our members.” He said those who would take covert video of ag operations are “focused more on generating headlines ... than on actually addressing any real or imagined problem.” He said, “In their world, solving problems does not pay. Creating the illusions of problems is what generates their salary.”

Kelly Hogan of Boise spoke against the bill. Audio or video evidence, whether taken openly or covertly, “provides the evidence that it doesn’t continue to happen,” he said, “and it’s a public service to both the industry and to people that have a care and concern for the animals that are involved in the situation. I think that the bill goes beyond just security and privacy. … We remove potentially an added resource to be sure that these things are disclosed.” Rep. Paul Romrell asked Hogan, “So you’re all right with trespass?” Hogan responded, “No, I’m not. I don’t see it as trespass. Let’s say that a person is employed by an agricultural facility under normal pretenses. Over time they see … things that are a violation of law, and they record it with their iPhone. … Then if they disclose that, this bill would make them in violation of law.” Asked what should happen if the person isn’t an employee, Hogan said, “If the person is not an employee and they trespass … I think they should be fined for trespassing laws.”

Tony VanderHulst of Westpoint Farms, current chairman of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, said, “This is not about hiding anything. This is about exposing the real agenda of these radical groups that are engaged in terrorism.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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