By Chris Blank
Vetoed Missouri agriculture legislation that includes an increased penalty for stealing livestock, changes to the state's animal abuse and neglect law and an allowance for foreign ownership of farmland has divided some agriculture groups.
The legislation is among 29 non-budgetary bills vetoed by Nixon this summer. Lawmakers are returning to Jefferson City on Wednesday to consider veto overrides.
Several farm groups want lawmakers to override the veto because it would lengthen the maximum prison sentence for stealing livestock and change Missouri's animal abuse and neglect law. But the Missouri Farm Bureau opposes an override because enacting the legislation also would mean ending the state's long-standing prohibition on foreign ownership of farmland. Instead, there would be a 1 percent cap.
Currently, animal owners can be charged with abuse or neglect if they fail to provide adequate care or control. Under the measure approved by legislators and eventually vetoed by the governor, people who knowingly lose control of their animal for at least 12 hours could instead be charged with the newly created offense of animal trespass — an infraction for the first violation.
And under the legislation, stealing livestock worth more than $10,000 would carry up to a 15-year prison term.
Bill supporters contend Missouri's current land restriction has not prevented foreign investment and that the changes to the animal abuse and neglect law are a needed correction. They say tougher punishment for stealing livestock could help combat cattle rustling, and the Missouri Cattlemen's Association has set a veto override as a priority. More....