Advocates say Farm Bureau blocking abuse law

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, June 18, 2009

Animal welfare advocates protested Wednesday at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation headquarters over what they charge is the Farm Bureau’s attempt to block legislation that would offer prosecutors a felony option for animal abuse cases.

“We’re not asking for the Farm Bureau to support our goals. We just want them to stop opposing them,” said Tiffany Frautschi, spokeswoman for Mississippi-Fighting Animal Cruelty Together.

Mississippi is one of four states that does not have a felony animal abuse statute. A Senate bill that would have made aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat a felony passed the Judiciary B committee earlier this year but died without a floor vote.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Frautschi said Senate Bill 2357 was headed toward passage when the Farm Bureau voiced its opposition.

Farm Bureau President David Waide said his membership does not condone animal cruelty, but it opposes the measure as a possible first step toward future restrictions on livestock care.

Waide said he has watched as other states have cracked down on confinement practices of poultry and swine after passing felony provisions for the protection of house pets.

“Once you had that kind of law begin in a state, it ultimately ended in doing away with those best management practices.” he said.

Frautschi said her group is “pro-farmer” and just wants tougher laws on the books to punish people who knowingly torture animals. She said the Farm Bureau has refused to talk with her group about their opposition to the bill.

“We would at least like a meeting,” she said.

Waide said he would meet with advocates for the bill to see if a compromise was possible.