COLUMBIA, MISSOURI (September 10, 2013) - The Missouri Cattlemen's Association (MCA) stood firmly behind the strong, bipartisan passage of Senate Bill 9 (S.B.9) in the regular session. In fact, the bill garnered 133 votes in the Missouri House and passed 32 to 1 in the Missouri Senate. Cattlemen were "surprised," according to MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering, when Governor Jay Nixon opted to veto the legislation. The bill, which is supported by leading agricultural organizations, would provide a fix to the animal abuse and neglect law in the state, while also strengthening the penalties for cattle rustling.
Deering said the bill still has a chance of being overridden on Sept. 11, during the General Assembly's veto override session. The original sponsor of the legislation, Senator David Pearce (R-21), has to bring the bill to the floor. Despite bipartisan support for the bill, it is unknown if Sen. Pearce will bring the legislation forward.
"Unfortunately, we have not received a definitive answer from Sen. Pearce on whether or not he will bring this legislation forward. I am certainly optimistic that the Senator will side with Missouri's farm and ranch families and push this legislation in the right direction," said Deering. "However, we will not be taking anything for granted and will continue to work with other leading farm and ranch organizations to remind the Senator what's at stake."
The two parts of the legislation most important to the agricultural community are cattle rustling and animal trespass. As the animal abuse and neglect law currently stands, a farmer can receive a fine or even imprisonment if their livestock get out of their confines just one time. Deering said animal abuse should not be taken lightly, but the law should not make criminals out of innocent farmers. The legislation would have also toughened the penalties for cattle rustling by making the first offense a felony in most cases.
The veto override of S.B. 9 is also supported by Missouri Pork Producers Association; Missouri Dairy Association; Missouri Corn Growers Association; Missouri Soybean Association; Missouri Egg Council; and the Missouri Chapter of the Poultry Federation.