As Idaho moves to criminalize undercover video with 'ag-gag' law, clip of dairy worker sexually abusing cow surfaces

A still from the video shot undercover at an Idaho dairy by animal rights group Mercy For Animals. Under a proposed law, filming scenes like this would become a crime.

In Idaho, the dairy industry has successfully lobbied lawmakers to propose a new law that would make it a crime for animal rights advocates or journalists to lie about their backgrounds to applications at dairy farms, for the purpose of documenting criminal activity or animal abuse.

Striking back at this proposed legislation that would curb free speech, Los Angeles-based nonprofit Mercy for Animals today released video of a dairy worker sexually abusing a cow at Dry Creek Dairy (owned by Bettencourt Dairies) in Idaho.

This scene was not originally included in footage provided to state lawmakers by the animal rights group, when pushing for an investigation of abuse and neglect at Bettencourt. Paresh Dave reporting for the Los Angeles Times:

The original video showed about two minutes of lashings, beatings and stompings suffered by cows. The dairy quickly fired five people after that video was released and installed surveillance cameras throughout its facility. The man seen fondling a cow’s vagina in the newly released video eventually spent 102 days in jail.

Idaho lawmakers have proposed legislation to punish people who cause damage or videotape farm work after entering through force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass. It would be a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail or a $5,000 fine -- the same as convicted animal abusers.

The dairy industry says the law is needed to protect dairies from animal rights advocates who lie about their backgrounds on job applications so they can gain access to sites for filming. The bill's sponsor has compared the animal rights groups to terrorists, alleging that they seek economic damages as much as reforms by demanding that the dairies' corporate customers sever ties.

Read the full story here. Linked videos contain graphic, upsetting scenes.

Undercover video recorded by Mercy for Animals led to recent charges of intentional mistreatment of animals against four dairy workers in Wisconsin.

Here's local news coverage in Idaho, and here's an Associated Press story.

[HT: @AdamMinter]