Twin Falls Republican Sen. Jim Patrick—sponsor of the so-called "ag-gag" bill that was signed into law Feb. 28 by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter—is backpedaling on his comments after calling for a boycott of Chobani Yogurt. The new law will crack down on whistleblowers and journalists obtaining information from an Idaho agricultural operation through misrepresentation.
Otter signed the measure into law in spite of a plea from Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, who wrote, "As someone who grew up on a farm, I believe deeply that the humane treatment of animals is an ethical and moral imperative."
But shortly after, Idaho Reports Melissa Davlin noted that Sen. Patrick had posted on his Facebook page, "Looks like we should boycott Greek yogurt."
Patrick now says his comments were "inappropriate."
"I said it with tongue in cheek," Patrick told Twin alls KMVT-TV. "I will be meeting with the company next week and we're going to discuss their comments. What they're trying to do is protect their company."
But KMVT-TV reports that Patrick continued to take shots at Chobani.
"But they don't care about our valley, or our people, our values," said Patrick, according to KMVT-TV. "[Ulukava] was out of line in what he said, and none of it was true."
Patrick also referenced 2012 undercover video taken at Idaho's Bettencourt Dairies, documenting animal abuse, which led to law enforcement filing animal cruelty charges.
"They just believe the videos, which if you look at the whole video, even the last one played, it was obviously a set up," said Patrick. "He could have worded this much better and not been so harsh on the dairymen who were persecuted, life threatened as a result of this and they weren't worried about the abusers, just the men who own the dairy and that's wrong."
Meanwhile, city of Twin Falls officials are more than a little concerned about the flap.
"We hope that Chobani's success is not harmed or hampered by anything that occurs at either the state level or even the city level; that we don't do anything at our level that would cause them to lose any portion of their market share," Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler told KMVT-TV.