Ag-gag clears Idaho legislature. Chobani asks Otter to veto it.

Will a major Idaho brand kill the Koch Brothers’ ag-gag legislation-

The sweeping bill to criminalize citizen surveillance of Idaho agriculture powered through the Idaho legislature. The common assumption is that  Governor Otter will sign it despite widespread opposition from many non-ag groups and Idaho citizens. The measure has also made national news. Most of it was very critical. Critics have argued that Idaho agriculture has a lot to lose from a possible national perception that the legislature or Idaho agriculture wants to hide something.

Now the CEO of Chobani, a nationally prominent yogurt produced mostly in Idaho, has asked the governor to “reconsider the bill before him.” Supporters of the bill had heatedly argued that citizens looking at Idaho agriculture were violating their property rights, but intangible property such as a favorable brand name can be worth many millions, perhaps billions of dollars. More generically “Idaho Potatoes” has been a huge marketing effort for generations.

A lot is riding on what Otter does.

Some say the controversy is now a bit similar to the just-vetoed Arizona law letting religious folks discriminate. This is because a major business interest has spoken to a governor.

The bill was introduced and championed by state senate ag committee chairman Jim Patrick (R from Twin Falls).

Story in the Magic Valley Times News.






  1. Ken Watts Avatar
    Ken Watts

    Animal abuse should never be tolerated and should be exposed to the “light of day”. Idaho, we are better than this!!

  2. Louise Kane Avatar
    Louise Kane

    The Idaho legislature and G Otter seem determined to keep Idaho in the spotlight in very negative ways and to ignore their constituency. One can only hope that will be remembered at election time but the pendulum swing theory doesn’t seem to apply here. They just seem to continually regress

  3. Yvette Avatar

    The ag-gag law might not be good for Choboni since they had so many people sickened over the moldy yogurt. It used to be one of my favorites, but I stopped buying them after the mold incidents.

    I hope Otter will listen to Choboni’s CEO. They probably haven’t fully recovered from the moldy yogurt incidents.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Yvette – check out the FDA’s recall site when you have a chance:

      Some big companies appear on there from time to time so think what it might be like in the future if we don’t ackknowledge/support the companies who do take a stand against this bill?

  4. patrick Avatar

    Here is why I think the bill will pass. While the Bittencourt dairy incident, where the cows were beaten, was ugly, factory dairies abuse cows from birth to death. If the truth gets out, many would be appalled and would stop consuming any dairy.
    Factory dairy cows are fed unnatural food and I am not talking about just GMO corn and soy. One reason for the GMO modification is enable to spray the crops to kill weeds without killing the corn and soy. Then we drink the milk!!!!!!
    With chemical injection, cows are made to produce way more milk than what is natural.
    Calves are taken from cows shortly after birth. Anyone seeing this process would be touched to the bone.
    Cows are confined to such an extent that they must be given antibiotics to keep from dying.
    Due to the above, factory dairy cows live less than half the life span of family farm cows.

  5. Nancy Avatar

    Let Chobani know your thoughts on this Ag Gag law. Trust me, they will respond 🙂

    1. Kathy Vile Avatar
      Kathy Vile

      I just did.

      1. IDhiker Avatar

        My wife and I also gave them our opinion.

  6. Kathy Vile Avatar
    Kathy Vile

    I do appreciate the CEO of Chobani for speaking out against this. To me it says that they are not trying to hide anything.

  7. IDhiker Avatar

    I heard Otter already signed this bill.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Yes he signed it, and quickly too. Their resistance to opinion & carefully thought policy is stunning. I have heard some say the only thing that matters to them is how it will make them appear in the upcoming Republican primary election

      1. Mark L Avatar
        Mark L

        Tipping point.
        (from a maven…ha)

      2. IDhiker Avatar

        Otter’s administration reminds me of my local Montana – Ravalli County commissioners. Total corruption, appointment of cronies, embracing ridiculous conspiracy theories…except that here, the commissioners have finally imploded due to their incompetence.

        We’ve embarrassed ourselves in Ravalli County, now it remains to be seen if Idahoans have any self-respect or limits to their patience with idiots like Otter. He’s their creature, but sometimes people get “buyer’s remorse.” Let’s hope the Idaho electorate finally wakes up!:

        1. Elk375 Avatar

          ID Hiker

          It appears the Ravalli County Commissioners appointed a treasurer who did not have the ability to do the job. They have had to hirer an outside auditing firm and a forensic accountant. Checks were never cashed and bills never paid.

          1. WM Avatar

            Wow! And, paid administrative leave until things are cleaned up. Wow!


            And, here I thought you actually had to do a job to get paid for it.

          2. IDhiker Avatar

            The story of The Ravalli County treasurer is so complicated and outrageous, it would take a book to update anyone not familiar with the situation. In short, she was appointed by the Tea Party commissioners because she was a local precinct chairperson, was “enthusiastic,” and a crony. Now, the lawsuits are flying…

            These same commissioners believe in “Agenda 21,” have adopted a county predator policy, have approved a 750 home subdivision next to a federal wildlife refuge, are trying to take over all federal lands in the county, have declined federal funds for women’s health care, and hassled the local tribes regarding Indian property, among other things. Oh, and opposed all attempts at formulating any countywide growth policies or zoning, even through Ravalli County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state!

            Hopefully, things will change come next fall’s elections, but in Ravalli County, one never knows. After all, we have militias, bunker compounds, constitutionalists…heck, at one point, they even wanted to arrest the Sheriff!

    2. jon Avatar

      This really is a disgusting law. These conservative nuts are giving Idaho a black eye. I hope lawsuits are filed to stop this disgusting law.

  8. Kathleen Avatar

    I tend to think Chobani’s move might just be a clever marketing ploy–they had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Many consumers just want to be placated, or lulled into easy acceptance of animal products by so-called green washing. So they purchase “cage-free” eggs, not stopping to examine or acknowledge that the chickens are still de-beaked, still packed into warehouses, and male chicks are still discarded, sometimes ground up alive. Chobani’s dairy cows are still factory farmed, and that’s not livin’ the good life. There’s nothing to celebrate or feel good about (as a consumer) just because an animal might not be subjected to the horrific abuse caught on undercover cameras. Animals in factory farms are nothing more than production units whose miserable lives are over as soon as they’re worn out and their production falls off…the “ordinary” exploitation of factory farming is bad enough, and Chobani is party to that. The bottom line is that industrial farming and slaughter of sentient animals is always inhumane.

  9. john philip Avatar
    john philip

    I didn’t realize Chobani was from Idaho. I won’t be buying it anymore.

    1. Yvette Avatar

      It was my favorite until over 300 people were sicken by their moldy yogurt.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        I didn’t know anyone got sick, but for the sake of accuracy I did a Google search. Google produced the following summary.

        “Search Results
        The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it has received more than 89 complaints from people reporting they got sick from Chobani yogurts tainted by mold, with symptoms including nausea and cramps.”

        Of course, Chobani opposed the ag gag bill, and it seems to me that they don’t deserve to be anyone’s target for the passage of bill. I wonder if any corporations have gone on record as supporting it? I think that “Nancy” above is right. Chobani might deserve some praise. Some other businesses must have supported it because there seems to have been plenty of lobbying, sufficient to ignore a rather noisy campaign that developed to kill ag gag.

  10. MJ Avatar

    Wondering if Chobani just didn’t want the negative publicity of Idaho, they are popular with a more progressive crowd. What is going on in Idaho.

    1. MJ Avatar

      Idaho Fish and Game, in cooperation with the USDA Wildlife Services, has completed another wolf control action in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border to improve poor elk survival in the area.

      In February, Wildlife Services agents killed 23 wolves from a helicopter. The action is consistent with Idaho’s predation management plan for the Lolo elk zone, where predation is the major reason elk population numbers are considerably below management objectives.

  11. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Well, at least somebody is standing up to them. I’m glad to hear it.

  12. snaildarter Avatar

    this Ag bill should have first Amendment problems. Hopefully it can be struck down. After all the 1st amendment is first for a reason.

  13. cas Avatar

    Chobani should now shut down its Twin Falls, ID, yogurt-processing plant—one of the world’s largest—and take its business and employment elsewhere—straight to a humane state that actually cares about the welfare of consumers and animals. Idaho is promoting corporate greed, the covering up of animal abuse, and practices that endanger public health and safety. Otter, the wolf killer who has now legalized the cover-up of criminal activity, is the Michael Vick of U.S. governors, and he and the corrupt, corporate-lapdog legislators who voted for this have clearly shown the state’s citizens who they really care about and work for.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Think this is most interesting — shocking!

    Sponsor of the new ag-gag law, Senator Patrick, attacks Chobani for its criticism.

    From the Boise Weekly. “Revenge Against Chobani? Idaho Legislator [Sen. John Patrick] Targets Yogurt Maker For Opposing Ag-Gag. By George Prentice on Sat, Mar 1, 2014.

    But Patrick now says it was just “Tongue in Cheek.” By George Prentice. Story of March 2. But did Patrick really take has statement back? From the Weekly, ” ‘But they don’t care about our valley, or our people, our values,’ said Patrick, according to KMVT-TV. [Ulukava, Chobani CEO] ‘was out of line in what he said, and none of it was true.’ “

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Love these suddenly “backtracking/trying to cover my ass” political idiots (and I’m not singling out Idaho here 🙂 BUT YA PUT YOUR INNER MOST THOUGHTS on Facebook for crying out loud 🙂

      Did you think no one else would notice?

  15. Yvette Avatar

    We should get #BuyChobani trending on Twitter. Anyone remember the teaparty outcry over Chick-fil a? Maybe a dose of their own medicine wouldn’t hurt.

    I forgive Choboni for the mold and trust they have corrected that situation. I’ll be buying Choboni yogurt.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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