Update May 15, 2010: Missouri’s legislative session ended Friday, May 14.
For more on the pro-horse slaughter provisions added in the Missouri House to S.B. 795 in the last weeks of the session and removed just hours before the end of the session by a conference committee….
Also, the conference committee, appointed to reconcile different versions of S.B. 795 passed by the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate, did not approve the provisions creating an Animal Care Advisory Committee which would have given agri-business significant influence over the care and treatment of farm animals and horses.
S.B. 795 was passed with provisions criminalizing the release or abandonment of pigs which then live as feral animals becoming targets for hunters or nuisances for homeowners. Also approved by the legislature were provisions banning the ownership, breeding and transport of large carnivores without a permit.
For more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
Original report: The title of the Missouri bill, S.B. 795, is "Exempts certain individuals who use explosive materials for unclogging agricultural irrigation wells from having to obtain a blaster’s license". Oh, and it also says "modifies laws relating to animals and agriculture".
The bill, originally sponsored by state Sen. Rob Mayer, has already passed the state Senate by a unanimous vote, and a House Committee Substitute is set to be voted on at any time by the House of Representatives. If the House approves the Substitute, the bill will go back to the Senate for a vote on a number of provisions added in the House including H.B. 1747, a pro-horse slaughter bill.
Despite the title, this bill contains far more than a licensing exemption for those unclogging agricultural irrigation wells with explosives. It addresses everything from planting grass along the highways to pesticides to horse slaughter. It has everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to the animals. Bills that could not pass otherwise have been attached to this legislation. Not only to hide them behind the innocuous sounding title, but also because the bill contains some good things, promoting agri-tourism, locally grown food, and sustainable and urban farming. The bill also criminalizes the release or abandonment of pigs which then live as feral animals becoming targets for hunters or nuisances for homeowners. The bill would ban the ownership, breeding and transport of large carnivores without a permit.
These provisions will make it hard for the legislature to vote against the bad provisions:
Rep. James Viebrock buried his pro-horse slaughter bill in S.B. 795 which means there is unlikely to be a public hearing on the bill in the Senate. In doing so, he did not have to answer to the public for his bill promoting horse slaughter.
S.B. 795 is also anti-rescue, repealing the exemption for animal shelters from state licensing fees and also barring the state Dept. of Agriculture from relying on animal welfare non-profits for assistance with inspections or licensing of shelters, pounds, kennels, breeders, and pet shops.
S.B. 795 creates an 18 member Animal Care Advisory Committee required to review the animal care practices related to farm animals, equines, and licensed dog breeding facilities and make recommendations to the general assembly. The committee is required to review national species specific animal care guidelines once every five years. This provision is formerly H.B. 2291 and similar to a number of such Committees or Boards established in other states as a way for agri-business to control regulation of farm animal care and treatment. In this case, the Committee would have great influence on laws related to farm animal care and treatment as well as dog breeding. The bill is clear the job of the Committee is to uphold "generally accepted" farm and veterinary practices and consider the economic effect of any recommendations.
The devil is in the makeup of the Committee – Director of the Dept. of Agriculture, Chairs of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, State Veterinarian and chairs of the Animal Sciences Divisions and University of Mo and Mo State University, a food animal veterinarian, and 11 representatives from agri-business and dog breeders organizations.
Not one representative from the animal welfare or rescue community. Not even a member of the public who own horses or dogs. Not one small farmer or family farmer.