The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most liberal court in the nation, ruled in favor of Idaho agriculture on critical issues in protecting their private property rights under “Idaho’s Interference with Agricultural Production Law.” The panel of three judges upheld the provision that goes to the heart of why Idaho agriculture felt it was necessary to develop this legislation.
Judge Winmill, of the Boise Federal District Court, found the entire law unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision and found these key provisions constitutional. The Ninth Circuit ruling protects agricultural operations from:
- Obtaining an agricultural operation’s records by deceit and other wrongful means
- Obtaining employment from an agricultural operation by deceit and other wrongful means with the intent to harm the operation
- Intentionally causing physical damage to an agricultural operation
In addition, the penalty for being found guilty in court for the misrepresentation to gain employment is significant. Idaho agricultural producers can be awarded twice the economic damages done by an employee if they gain employment through misrepresentation. This is a key provision in discouraging individuals and organizations from targeting Idaho ag producers through the creation of misleading recordings.
Unauthorized recordings were only one category of conduct addressed by the statute. Protecting agricultural operations from wrongful interference by trespass, record theft, obtaining employment by fraud with the intent to harm the employer, and intentional physical damage to agricultural operations, are all very important protections that the statute will continue to provide.
The initial law
The law was passed and signed into law by Idaho Governor Butch Otter in February 2014 to protect private property rights of agriculture.
It has been a long four years, rich with negative media attention directed at the industry, our legal counsel, legislators, the governor, and the Idaho Attorney General’s Office. All need to be commended for the success of the key components being upheld in the Ninth Circuit Court.