Lawmakers say no to MO governor's veto

Sep 13, 2013

The General Assembly stood firm last week for Missouri’s farm and ranch families by overriding the governor’s veto of S. B. 9. Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) 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.”

MCA stood firmly behind the strong, bipartisan passage of the bill in the regular session. In fact, the bill garnered 133 votes in the Missouri House and passed 32 to 1 in the Missouri Senate. Cattlemen were “surprised,” according to MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering, when Governor Jay Nixon opted to veto the legislation. The bill, which is supported by leading agricultural organizations, provides a fix to the animal abuse and neglect law in the state, while also strengthening the penalties for cattle rustling.

This is only the 13th override since 1820,” Deering told WLJ.

The original sponsor of the legislation, state Senator David Pearce (R-21), had to bring the bill to the floor. Despite bipartisan support for the bill, there was some unknown on whether or not Sen. Pearce would bring the legislation forward.

But Deering was optimistic, and rightfully so, considering the outcome.

The two parts of the legislation most important to the agricultural community are cattle rustling and animal trespass. As the animal abuse and neglect law currently stands, a farmer can receive a fine or even imprisonment if their livestock get out of their confines just one time. Deering said animal abuse should not be taken lightly, but the law should not make criminals out of innocent farmers. The legislation would have also toughened the penalties for cattle rustling by making the first offense a felony in most cases.

The bill will also fix the current animal abuse and neglect law. The past animal abuse and neglect law allowed a farmer to receive a hefty fine or even imprisonment because their livestock got out of their confines.

“Having the support of our elected leaders on this issue shows how strong of an agricultural base we have in Missouri,” said Massengill. “This paves the way for future success and will only allow agriculture in Missouri to prosper.”

The veto override of S.B. 9 is also supported by Missouri Pork Producers Association; Missouri Dairy Association; Missouri Corn Growers Association; Missouri Soybean Association; Missouri Egg Council; and the Missouri Chapter of the Poultry Federation. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor