Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of 18 agricultural groups and companies, are applauding a move by the state assembly to amend the so-called puppy mill referendum passed by a 51.6% majority last year.
The original measure, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, was to regulate dog breeding operations, so-called “puppy mills.” But the measure also included undefined regulation of all domestic animals in the state. And under Missouri law, the definition of domestic animals includes farm animals.
There was fear from farm groups the measure would open dairy, beef and hog operations to even more regulation, says Dave Drennan with the Missouri Dairy Association. “We’re not sure where the regulation would have ended up,” he says.
Senate Bill 113 eliminates the domestic animal section, and requires dog breeders to work with licensed veterinarians to ensure proper care and exercise. But backers of the original measure see the new bill as a possible subversion
of the intent of the ballot initiative.
SB 113, passed by both houses of the Missouri legislature, now goes before Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat. The governor can sign the bill, veto it, or let it become law if he does not veto it by July 1. Nixon has not indicated what he will do. Ag groups, which lobbied for passage in the Assembly, are hoping the Governor signs it or allows it to become law. Whether it becomes law or not, it undoubtedly will be an election issue in 2012.