By Brett Wessler
A bill enforcing stronger punishments on cattle rustlers and changes to animal abuse and neglect laws was vetoed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, but was overridden by lawmakers Wednesday.
The bill, S.B. 9, changes language regarding penalties for cattle theft, making the first offense a felony in most cases. The change takes cattle rustling more seriously as the threat increases with high cattle prices.
Another aspect of the bill benefiting livestock producers is the change to the animal abuse and neglect law. The new bill creates a new offense of animal trespass, defined as knowingly failing to provide adequate control of animals for at least 12 hours. With the new wording, livestock producers will not face large fines or imprisonment when animals get loose through a damaged fence or gate.
The Senate voted 23-10 to override Nixon’s veto and the House voted 111-50 to override on Wednesday.
Missouri Cattlemen's Association President Chuck Massengill said this vote is a victory for more than 52,000 Missouri cattle farms and ranches.
"The success Missouri agriculture has seen this past year has been great. Many farm families will benefit from the passage of S.B. 9," said Massengill. "This bill is a step in the right direction and will help producers protect their business and livelihood."
The bill also places a one percent limit on foreign ownership of Missouri farmland.