MCA urges Gov. Nixon to sign Senate bill on farm families
Missouri Cattlemen’s Association President Chuck Massengill says Senate Bill 9 contains language that would help Missouri’s cattle farmers and ranchers.
The bill was passed by the 97th General Assembly last month and was forwarded on to Gov. Jay Nixon on May 22. Massengill says it’s time for the governor to take action on the legislation. Specifically, he says the animal trespass, cattle rustling and career and technical education components of SB 9 are of particular interest to the association.
The animal trespass portion of SB 9 was sponsored by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-39. Massengill, who is a veterinarian, says this portion provides a fix to the current animal abuse and neglect law.
“As the animal abuse and neglect law currently stands, a farmer can receive a hefty fine or even imprisonment because their livestock got out of their confines. It doesn’t matter if the animal is out for 12 hours or 10 minutes,” Massengill said. “Animal abuse should not be taken lightly, but we need to ensure that the law does not make criminals out of farmers who had a couple cows walk over the fence.”
Cattle rustling, which is a constant problem throughout the state and primarily in southwest Missouri, is addressed in SB 9 as well. The new language, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, R-29, would toughen the penalties for cattle rustling, making the first offense a felony in most cases.
“Cattle rustling is not the same as stealing objects. We are talking about livelihoods being stolen,” Massengill said. “As a veterinarian, I will tell you that animal health and welfare is also compromised when animals are stolen. This is a very serious offense and Missouri law should reflect the seriousness of this crime.”
Career and technical education programs such as agricultural education provides young people hands-on education that can make them successful in their trade. The Career and Technical Education Student Protection Act, which is included in SB 9 and sponsored by Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-18, would heighten the emphasis put on programs like FFA and ensure that career and technical education remains a vital component of coursework in Missouri schools.
Massengill says the legislation also includes language that is intended to pave the way for the Missouri Department of Agriculture to allow producers to apply ear tags in their cattle in accordance with the Animal Disease Traceability law. He says this would save cattlemen costly fees.
The final hurdle for SB 9 is the governor’s signature.