Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
Agricultural News and Information
Compromise reached on animal cruelty bill
JACKSON – The Humane Society of the United States and Mississippi
Farm Bureau applaud the Mississippi House Agriculture Committee's approval
of a measure to strengthen Mississippi’s animal cruelty law, and
today urged the legislature to send the bill to Gov. Haley Barbour with
no further changes.
SB 2821, introduced by Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, passed the Senate
on Feb. 9. Today, the House Agriculture committee, chaired by Rep. Greg
Ward, D-Ripley, passed a substitute version of the bill that contains
a felony provision for second-offense aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat.
The bill, which contains exemptions for killing animals in order to protect
livestock, must still make its way through the House Judiciary B committee
and a House floor vote before being sent back to the Senate for concurrence.
“We feel this will protect agriculture and rural Mississippians
and applaud the Committee for diligent work to balance the rights of our
members and animal cruelty concerns,” said Randy Knight, Mississippi
Farm Bureau Federation president.
"Updating the antiquated cruelty laws in Mississippi has been a top
priority for The Humane Society of the United States, and we hope this
bill passes for the protection of Mississippi's pets and citizens,"
said Lydia Sattler, The Humane Society of the United States’ Mississippi
state director. “The compromise reached today by the agricultural
committee, and agreed to by both groups, will provide meaningful penalties
for the worst cases of animal cruelty and we look forward to passage of
this important legislation.”
Until this compromise was reached, The HSUS and Farm Bureau were on opposite
sides of the effort to enact a felony animal cruelty law in Mississippi.
But both sides pointed out that the Arkansas Farm Bureau reached a similar
compromise with The HSUS in 2009, when Arkansas became the 46th state
to enact a felony law for certain acts of cruelty to animals.
“I have taken criticism for not passing earlier versions of this
bill,” Ward said. “But on important matters like animal cruelty,
which have significant implications for farmers and rural Mississippians,
I think it’s best we take our time and make sure we get it right.
This bill protects animals and it protects farmers, and I’d like
to see it become the law.”
Sen. Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, authored a similar measure that would have
made aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat a felony on the first offense.
That bill, SB 2127, did not make it out of the House Agriculture Committee
Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest general farm
organization with more than 197,000 member-families statewide. There
are Farm Bureaus in all 82 counties in Mississippi
where agriculture comprises a fundamental part of
Mississippi 's economy.
Headquartered in Jackson
, the federation is an independent, non-profit agricultural
organization and is not associated with any arm of the government.
For more information about Farm Bureau, visit our website at www.msfb.com.