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BOISE -- Dairies and other agricultural producers convinced senators to support a bill aiming to prohibit animal-rights groups from spying on their operations after activists in 2012 documented cruelty at a big southern Idaho dairy.

The Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee Tuesday backed what proponents called an agricultural security measure -- and what foes branded a heavy-handed and punitive response to people seeking to expose horrendous abuses.

The legislation could put people who surreptitiously film their operations in jail for a year and slap them with a $5,000 fine.

It now goes to the Senate floor.

Bob Naerebout, the Idaho Dairymen's Association president, says his measure adds teeth and strength to existing trespassing prohibitions.

Opponents argued the bill would put somebody behind bars merely for snapping a picture of a cow being abused.

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