TWIN FALLS - Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya came out Friday against the so-called "ag-gag" bill, which would ban unauthorized recordings on farms and dairies.
The bill passed the Idaho House 56-14 on Wednesday and now awaits Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's signature.
In a statement released to the Times-News, Ulukaya asked the governor to "reconsider the bill before him."
"As someone who grew up on a farm, I believe deeply that the humane treatment of animals is an ethical and moral imperative," Ulukaya said.
Ulukaya also tweeted his opposition to the bill on Friday morning:
As someone who grew up on a farm, I believe how we treat animals is a moral imperative. I hope Gov Otter vetoes http://t.co/m4LoIYJ65W— Hamdi Ulukaya (@hamdiulukaya) February 28, 2014
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The proposed legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, would ban unauthorized video and audio recording on agricultural facilities. Under the bill, an employee or trespasser who records abuse on a dairy or farm would be subject to up to a year in jail and $5,000 fine.
Friday morning, the senator from Twin Falls wrote a Facebook comment responding to a post about Ulukaya's statement.
"Looks like we should boycott Greek yogurt," Patrick wrote.
Chobani opened a Twin Falls production facility almost two years ago, bringing more than 500 jobs to the area.
Idaho’s $2.5 billion dairy industry is backing the bill after an animal rights group released footage in 2012 of animal abuse on Murtaugh's Dry Creek Dairy, owned by Luis Bettencourt.
On Thursday, former "The Price Is Right" host Bob Barker also released a statement urging Otter to veto the bill.
Ulukaya's full statement:
“A bill is up for approval that, if passed, would limit transparency and make some instances of exposing the mistreatment of animals in the state punishable by imprisonment.
This could cause the general public concern and conflicts with our views and values.
As someone who grew up on a farm, I believe deeply that the humane treatment of animals is an ethical and moral imperative and, having spent a lot of time in upstate New York and Idaho, I know hundreds of farmers feel the same.
When I founded Chobani, it was based around these core values and principles. And we selected Idaho for Chobani's second home because of its deep farming culture, sense of community and consistent values.
So I am joining many folks across the country in asking Governor Otter to reconsider the bill before him.”