Animal Cruelty Bill in Arkansas Likely

SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS - Attorney General, Dustin McDaniel, is drawing up an animal cruelty bill, which he hopes everybody can support, the president of the Poultry Federation told a joint meeting of House and Senate Agriculture Committees on 3 October.
calendar icon 6 October 2008
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The Morning News for Northwest Arkansas reports that the lawmakers met at Tyson Foods headquarters in Springdale to hear from the federation, the state Livestock and Poultry Commission and the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association on issues likely to come before the Legislature. Federation president Marvin Childers said Attorney General McDaniel is listening to groups that have opposed cruelty legislation in the past and taking those views into account.

The federation represents the poultry industry in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. The commission is a state agency regulating animal farming. The association represents cattle ranchers. The federation and the association have opposed animal cruelty legislation in the past, saying it could be misapplied to restrict routine farm operations.

Arkansas is one of five states that do not have a felony animal cruelty charge.

Senator Sue Madison, (Democrat-Fayetteville), is a long-time supporter of animal cruelty legislation. She said recently that she has seen drafts of McDaniel's legislation and said she is optimistic that "We'll get first-offense felony (legislation) next year." Her 2007 proposal was stopped over farm groups objection of giving authorities the option of making a first offence of animal cruelty a felony.

The association said it still opposes mandatory electronic tagging of farm animals but told lawmakers that market forces are pushing ranchers in that direction. Still, the ranchers would rather see something evolve out of the market than see government dictates, spokesmen said.

Their main concern is federal mandates for ethanol production from domestic corn, which competes with ranchers for feed, they said. However, those spokesmen acknowledged that these mandates are a problem with the federal government and not the state Legislature.

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