Food processing heavyweight Chobani is urging Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to veto a bill that would make penalties stricter for animal rights activists caught secretly filming Idaho agriculture facilities.
Chobani, which operates a huge Greek yogurt facility in Twin Falls, buys its milk from Idaho dairymen. In a press release, Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya says if passed, the measure would limit transparency.
There are about 2,000 dairy cows on Pete Olsen's fifth-generation farm in northern Nevada. A new milk processing plant is now putting pressure on Olsen and other dairy farmers to expand the size of their herds. But with the ongoing drought, farmers are struggling to get enough feed for the cows they already have.
When Pete Olsen talks about drought on his fifth-generation dairy farm in Fallon, Nev., he's really talking about the snowpack 60 miles to the west in the Sierra Nevada.
The Sierras, Olsen says, are their lifeblood.
That is, the snowmelt from them feeds the Truckee and Carson rivers and a tangle of reservoirs and canals that make this desert bloom. Some of the highest-grade alfalfa in the world is grown here. And it makes perfect feed for dairy cows, because it's rich in nutrients.
Idaho's $2.5 billion dairy industry wants to put people who film their operations surreptitiously in jail for up to a year, a bid to block animal-rights groups from spying on farms in hopes of catching animal cruelty on tape.
Sen. Jim Patrick of Twin Falls Thursday introduced the measure on the heels of videos produced in 2012 by a group at one of Idaho's largest dairies documenting cows being beaten.
The owner of a large Twin Falls County dairy operation says he fired five of his employees in August after seeing an undercover video made at a farm near Hansen. Luis Bettencourt’s operation at Dry Creek Dairy was the apparent target of an animal rights group.
The head of the Idaho Dairy Association, Bob Naerebout, says the video shows a cow with a chain around its neck being pulled by a tractor. He says cows are kicked and jumped on in the recording. It also shows workers using an electrical prod on the animals.
Idaho dairy farmers have been struggling with high feed costs and low milk prices for years. The Times-News reports dairymen in the Magic Valley are optimistic about expanding and new producers in the area, namely Chobani. Continue reading...