Gestation CageA bill was introduced in the Mississippi legislature to make heinous cruelty against cats and dogs a first-offense felony. It was quickly killed. Why?

It isn’t as if Mississippi didn’t need stricter laws against animal abuse. According to an Animal Legal Defense Fund report, it is one of the “five best states in the country to be an animal abuser.” The ALDF report cited several reasons Mississippi earned this dishonor, including: “No felony animal cruelty/neglect/abandonment provisions… Inadequate range of prohibitions and definitions/standards of basic care… Inadequate reporting provisions for suspected animal abuse… No humane agents and no duty on peace officers to enforce animal protection laws… Inadequate animal fighting provisions.”

So the new anti-cruelty bill wasn’t killed because Mississippi already had stellar animal protection laws on the books. It was killed because the animal agriculture lobby didn’t like it. In a letter to the editor to the Hattiesburg American, David Waide, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, wrote that his organization opposed the bill because “this type legislation will be used as a vehicle to open avenues for activists to push other, more extreme agendas.”

Specifically, he fears “the discontinuation of practices that have proven to be humane and efficient methods for raising livestock on our farms…. It has happened in at least four states across the country where this type legislation has already been enacted.”

Gee, what “humane and efficient methods” have been banned in four states? Most likely, Mr. Waide is referring to laws prohibiting barbaric practices such as gestation crates, tail docking, and battery cages. Even the vague possibility that a bill to protect cats and dogs might be interpreted in such a way as to make the lives of farm animals a little less nightmarish is enough to make David Waide and his ilk lobby against it. And to think, Waide actually states, “Farm Bureau is adamantly opposed to the cruelty, abuse, or mistreatment of any animals.” I guess he forgot to add “except for farm animals.”

Sadly, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation won this battle. The anti-cruelty bill passed the senate, but then was killed in (you guessed it) the Agriculture Committee. In neighboring Tennessee,  a bill that would make starving or sadistic behavior towards livestock a felony looks similarly doomed. According to WSMV-TV, “The bill faces a tough road since it will likely need support from the Tennessee Farm Bureau. No animal cruelty bill has ever succeeded without first removing livestock from the language of the law.”

The lesson here is simple: The animal agriculture lobby is becoming the biggest threat to passage of laws to protect animals.

Photo Credit. : Maqi at WikiCommons