….Missouri’s ballot measure is among several “right to farm” constitutional amendments proposed in a number of Midwestern states, including Indiana and Iowa. An amendment was approved by voters last fall in North Dakota.
The wording in the various states differs widely, but Kleinsorge and Hurst say the aim is the same – to protect agriculture from what they see as undue pressure from the government and animal-rights or environmental groups.
“Prop B is probably a catalyst for a lot of what has happened since then, but this is really forward-looking,” said Kleinsorge. “What we’re trying to do is establish this right to farm on a constitutional level, so that farming and ranching practices can’t be banned in the future.”
Some critics contend that the proposal actually is aimed at protecting Monsanto and other major agribusinesses, some of which have been at odds with farmers over their use of genetically modified seeds and so-called “factory farms” with huge numbers of animals, such as chickens and pigs.
Kleinsorge disagrees. “This is for the small guy,” he said.
Although Monsanto and Cargill are members of the Missouri Farmers Care coalition, “the vast majority of our donors are farmers from Missouri,” Kleinsorge emphasized. All of the members, big or small, are contributing the same $500 a year to the group, he added….
Good news for all of us who are sad and angry at what our governor and legislature did to our citizen initiative law that passed in November. Despite a majority vote of the people, a handful of Big Ag-dependent legislators took it upon themselves to repeal our vote. Using lies and confusion, they convinced a bunch of Missourians, mostly in rural districts where people are used to being told how to think, that raising standards at dog breeding operations will force Missourians to become vegans.
But this fight is not over. The ASPCA just announced that it is reviewing the actions of the governor and legislature to determine what our next step will be.
Yesterday I got a really good look at the lopsided balance of power in Missouri when I attended a rally in support of the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act in Jeff City. About 150 of the most passionately humane and caring people met on the sidewalk outside the governor’s mansion shouting “VETO SB 113.” Some folks brought the dogs they had adopted from horrible circumstances and told us their stories. One woman with HSUS who used to be a television reporter talked about what she saw when she went undercover to a puppy mill auction. We got lots of thumbs up from state workers leaving for the day and people driving by in cars. All in all, it was an inspiring experience. I, myself, feel inspired every time I meet someone brave enough to do the dirty work of rescuing animals from their filthy prisons. I don’t think I could do it. The chief investigator with the MO Humane Society told us last week about how he has to wear a breathing apparatus (not just a face mask) when he goes into some of the disgusing breeding operations. He said the fumes in the air can damage his lungs. Well, imagine what those fumes are doing to the dogs.
After the rally, Marty Rulo and I drove around to the south side of the Capitol building and had to face the fact that we are not just outnumbered by opponents of Prop B but outgunned as well. The state reps and senators who passed SB 113 gathered in formal lines on the capitol steps behind a speaker’s podium, complete with professional sound system, flags and the whole works. I’d estimate 800 or so people gathered below the speaker listening and shouting “NO” when asked if they were going to allow an assault on their “property rights.” And that’s the difference between us and them. As Marty said , “They think of dogs as property. We think of them as pets and part of a family.” The power is all on their side. The legislators depend on corporate donations to run their campaigns. The Department of Agriculture rules on all issues involving animals. The Missouri Humane Society has to depend on the Ag Dept to enforce regulations pertaining to puppy mills. That probably explains why the state humane society and the MO Alliance for Animal Legislation were willing to “compromise” on a new bill.
I’m not as up on all the regs and enforcement procedures as others are. I’m not directly involved with any dog group at all. But when I reviewed the new bill, the “compromise” that the governor brokered with both sides of the issue, I was struck by the fact that they are arguing about how many more inches a dog should have to turn around and stretch out her limbs. Think about that. It’s come to this. We are debating whether an adult dog imprisoned for her whole life in a cage should be able to stretch her limbs.
What has become of us that we are even allowing dogs to be caged for life? Dogs have been domesticated by humans to serve us as pets. We want dogs to be our family members and our friends. We don’t expect cows, chickens and pigs to interact with us emotionally, but we DO want dogs, and especially puppies, to be our companions and our “babies.”
Why are we even having this conversation? NO DOG should spend its life in a cage barely bigger than the animal itself. I haven’t been as emotionally affected by this issue as some of the friends I’ve met at these rallies until I read that “compromise” bill. It’s disgusting. I’m horrified that we, as human beings, are allowing these conditions to exist in our state. We do NOT need puppy mills in Missouri. Humane breeders care for their animals, sell only to families that make a good fit for the dogs, follow and go beyond all the regulations because they respect their dogs as social animals. Breeders who run the factory operations and produce thousands of puppies a year should be closed down – end of discussion.
“Property rights”? NO – domesticated animals are not your “property” to do with as you wish. We have evolved. We don’t allow animals to be trained to kill each other for sport and gambling. We outlawed dog fighting and cock fighting a decade ago. We are on the path to outlawing factory breeding facilities too. This whole Prop B issue has brought to light the hidden reality of what most of us didn’t really understand until now. Even if the “compromise” bill passes and the governor caves to corporate pressure and signs it, we will continue to expose the cruelty that exists in our state.
Senate Bill 113, which seeks to amend Proposition B, will go before the House Agriculture Policy Committee today. SB 113 passed in the Senate earlier and is now before the House – which already voted in favor of an identical House bill, HB 131 last month. Sadly, SB113 is probably a done deal – although when the stakes are high, as they are for the animals affected, one should never give up. This, according to an email urging action that I received today, is what SB113/95 and HB 131 would do:
*Remove the provision ensuring that female dogs get a rest between breeding cycles and replace it with an unenforceable vet recommendation provision. 50 breed clubs including the AKC recommend rest between breeding cycles.
* Remove the requirement that the dogs receive an annual exam by a vet and replace it with “two visual inspections” instead.
* Eliminate the exercise provision.
* Remove the provision ensuring continuous access to unfrozen, clean water.
* Make stacked cages lawful again.
* Allow dogs to be confined in cages with only 6 inches of space again.
* Eliminate the cap on having more than 50 adult, sexually intact breeding dogs at a commercial breeding facility.
* Replace the straightforward misdemeanor provisions in Prop. B with allowances for criminal prosecution after repeatedly violating the the law and the violations posing a substantial risk to the dogs
So much for “improving” the bill – which is what our Republican legislators disingenuously claim they want to do. I admit that the pork industry (e.g., Smithfield Farms), for instance – which fears Prop. B as a potential Trojan horse – probably thinks the lege has improved it in just about the right way, and to that effect has been more than willing to exercise some of that dollar- greenback colored speech that the Roberts Court is so fond of.
So go ahead and call your representative – although it’s not likely to do much good. What big agribusiness wants, it gets from Missouri’s GOP legislature. That’s the ironclad rule that the lege has proved once again by their prompt action to undo Prop. B.
Certainly, the legislature is not responding to public opinion. At a meeting of state Democratic representatives a few weeks ago, all of the lawmakers present noted that they had heard more outcry about the efforts to nullify Prop. B than any of the other issues coming before the legislature this year. They all also noted that that the outcry was bipartisan in nature – so much so that it occasioned a little bitterness from some of the Democrats – Jill Schuupp, for instance, lamented:
… we have received more information on puppy mill legislation than any other piece of legislation, and I know people love their animals and I support that love for animals, but, my gosh, we have a lot of people out there hurting too and I sure wish people would … stand up and get that involved when it involves other people too.
I sympathize with Rep. Schuupp and share her frustration about the seeming lack of concern for the people who will suffer because of the GOP determination to pursue a destructive legislative agenda. However, I also understand why the plight of puppy mill animals generates a larger and more intense response.
There is at least a perception that human beings who are threatened by the actions of our business/corporate dominated GOP legislature can speak for themselves, but animals can never, under any circumstances, speak for themselves. And while conservatives may buy into the rightwing dogma that presents poverty, deprivation and injustice as the result of poor choices on the part of individuals, nobody, left or right, thinks that dogs live out miserable lives in breeding factories because they have made poor choices. Many of us live with dogs – they’re ideologically neutral – which is why opponents of Prop. B must resort to misrepresenting the concern about conditions in breeding kennels as sentimental excess on the part of those who don’t know better.
While we have probably lost the immediate battle, it is possible to continue the campaign. We can publicize just exactly what happened, refuse to let pols blather about “improving” or “tweaking” Prop. B, and make sure that the memory remains fresh next election. We can ensure that there are consequences.
Legislators who put the dictates of corporate agribusiness before their human obligation to mitigate unnecessary suffering deserve to be held accountable. Businesses, like Smithfield Farms, deserve to hear from consumers who do not appreciate their meddling in unrelated areas of animal husbandry. Finally, in response to those politicians who whine about the hardship that Prop. B would cause “good” breeders, we need to be emphatic that those puppy breeders who cannot conform to the minimal strictures of Proposition B deserve to be put out of business – the sooner the better.
Get some Facts to answer the lies of the multi-million agriculture business. THEY have the money and the lies. We have the FACTS. Check out this video.
After seeing this video of Sen. Parson lying about the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act passed by voters in November, I attended a rally in support of the new law at the Capitol yesterday. I carried a sign saying “Sen. Parson: ‘YOU LIE.'” It caught the attention of lots of people, including many with cameras. I hope the story gets back to Sen. Parson.
The reason we were there was because the House was debating HB131 which would gut the new law. The legislators who want to let a breeder have more than 50 females pregnant all the time in a space barely big enough to roll over or stretch out are heartless to say the least. We had about 90 people there in the rotunda with signs mostly about letting the vote stand and respecting the vote of the people.
Several groups of school kids, both elementary and high school ages, came through. Their first stop on the tour is the state seal emblazoned in the floor of the rotunda. After the tour guides finished and led the kids to their next stop, I told the kids not to bother voting because the legislature would just overturn their vote. Some of the teachers gave me a thumbs up. Others scowled at me. Whatever.
A few of us joined Barbara Schmitz, director of the coalition that passed Prop B, to the governor’s office on the 2nd floor. She had a petition signed by a bunch of folks. The gov wasn’t there (actually I saw on TV that he was in Forest Park.) An aide politely took the petition from us and let a photog take our picture for a national animal magazine (All Animals?) No signs were allowed in the photo, but she let me hold my little American flag. (no comment)
I learned after I got home that HB 131 was “laid over,” and, according to the Bill Tracking page on the General Assembly website there is no further action scheduled at this time.
I heard opposite predictions yesterday from two people who know a lot more about how these things work than I do. One said not to give up because there are good things happening behind the scenes. The other said there is no way we’re going to stop the repeal/dismantling of the new law. So it’s a toss up at this point.
Look at these photos of puppy mill conditions. I know it’s hard to see this, but we have to do it for the dogs’ sake. Call your state rep and state senator and tell them how disgusted you are with this whole attempt to repeal a reasonable improvement of care standards at these facilities. Send them these photos and ask them how they can sleep at night. If you are lucky enough to have a rep and senator already supporting Prop B, tell him/her thank you and to please forward the photos to colleagues.
The voters of Missouri decided in November that it is time to upgrade the standards of care at mass puppy breeding facilities where the puppies are sold as pets. Note that this has nothing to do with breeders of show dogs or hunting dogs or dogs in general. It applies only to breeders of puppies to be sold as pets where the facility has more than ten productive female dogs.
It’s true that there is already a law regulating care standards at these facilities, but the breeders who are in it for the highest profit often ignore the warnings and citations they are given. Inspectors visit both licensed and unlicensed operations and have found deplorable conditions at some in each of those categories. So it is not true that only unlicensed breeders treat dogs inhumanely. The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act passed by voters in November will make it against the law to mistreat dogs. It is true that some breeders will still ignore the law, but they are less likely to abuse the animals if that abuse results in a more severe penalty.
Those of us who adopt puppies and dogs as pets consider them part of the family. As part of a family, they deserve the same care and protection during the birth process and in their birth homes as they will receive in our homes. Healthy pets contribute love and stability to families. People who buy puppies expect them to be healthy, well-cared for and socialized to be comfortable with humans. The old law covering conditions in puppy breeding facilities is 20 years old and was written to provide just basic survival conditions. To our credit, Missourians have become more compassionate and caring in the past two decades, and we want mother dogs and puppies to be treated the way they deserve to be treated as God’s creatures.
If a breeder cannot make a profit providing a safe, healthy environment for his animals, he should probably let others do it who can. Breeders who cut corners pass the cost on to the adoptive family in the form of high veterinary bills. This is not fair or right. Better Business Bureaus in several Missouri cities have lists of complaints lodged against puppy mill owners who have sold unhealthy animals to unsuspecting customers.
Females used for breeding need a rest period between pregnancies so their bodies can rebuild. At some of the worst operations in Missouri females are being bred every cycle until their teeth rot and they lose the strength to stand up. There are photos of females hanging in slings so they can be inseminated. When they stop producing healthy puppies, they are disposed of. What kind of people can do this to animals?
The Puppy Mill Cruety Prevention Act places no additional burden on breeders who are already treating their animals with care and respect. The new space requirements are reasonable. Even the largest outdoor enclosure required by Prop B is still smaller than a parking space at your local grocery store. The space requirements under Prop B are determined by the size of the dog. For example, a small dog requires indoor space the size of a sleeping bag and outdoor space that measures about half the size of the bed of a pickup truck. A medium sized dog requires indoor space the size of a twin bed mattress and outdoor space the size of a pool table. And a large dog requires indoor space the size of a standard elevator floor and outdoor space the size of a compact car. Giving dogs enough space to turn around, stretch their limbs, and exercise is just common sense.
“HSUS has decimated the egg industry forcing chicken farmers out of business … HSUS eliminated the pork industry. (Wondering why pork prices are going sky high?) They’ve also crippled numerous other agribusinesses – dragging connected industries down with them.”
–Tea Party member Joseph Wurzelbacher
But instead of just hooting derisively at these nutjobs, you might do well to understand the economic motivation for their drivel, because money always drives right wing politics. Joe the Plumber, with his grandiose claim that HSUS is “using the referendum process to slowly, systematically eliminate food production in the United States”, is more than just a bozo with an end-of-the-world Ouija board; he’s part of agribusiness’s campaign to block any interference with its stranglehold on agriculture. Joe is referring to ballot initiatives that passed in Florida and California. A 2002 Florida vote banned pork producers from keeping pregnant sows in gestation crates–in other words, penned up so tight that they couldn’t move. The 2008 California Proposition 2 banned “the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.”
The profits of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in those states suffered, and CAFO owners became indignant that the meddling Humane Society had gotten citizens boohooing over a few ill treated pigs, for god’s sake. Big ag also resents maudlin tree huggers for whining that CAFOs pollute and then refuse to pay for the damage. The Missouri Sierra Club, for example, yammers about McDonald County having plants operated by Tyson, Simmons and MoArk, with CAFOs for all three corporations. Every water body in that county is on the impaired water bodies list. And, not content with moaning about cruelty to animals and damage to the environment, activists complain that CAFOs harm human health with the hormones and antibiotics that they pump into those animals. Ask any exec at Tyson, and he’ll tell you that those namby-pambies are always harping about the wrong stuff.
Well. Cargill, Con-Agra, Purina, Monsanto, Nabisco, Kellogg, Nestle–the whole multi-billion dollar food/feed/distribution industry–aren’t about to let a few marginal, relatively impotent sentimentalists bellyache loud enough to interfere with their hegemony. So here’s the plan: be a victim and instill fear. (Stick with traditional Republican values.) Act as if li’l ole HSUS and PETA (with its anti-fly-swatting ideology) could cripple American agriculture. Pretend they want to starve everybody.
I know, but that’s their story, and you know how tenacious Republicans are about sticking to an insane assertion until it finally takes hold.
By the way, there’s no indication that the Humane Society intends to target CAFOs in this state. Hell, it probably won’t even get a toehold on cruelty to puppies. The Republican legislature is laying plans to override the voters’ will. Rightwing paranoia that the puppy mills are an opening salvo against all agriculture in the state makes no more sense than their claims, in 1998, that banning cockfighting would end all hunting and fishing. But hey, who remembers that silly claim anymore? That fight is ancient history.
We’re in the now. And right now, regulating puppy mills in Missouri will starve all Americans. And don’t you forget it.
I look forward to analyzing the final debris of this election as much as i’d look forward to dental work. So I will forgo that torture on you for a little bit longer, and present to you the map for how Proposition B, regulating Puppy Mills, fared county by county.
Weirdly enough, the stronger areas for Prop B were also good areas for Mitt Romney in the 2008 Missouri Republican Primary, aside from Dunklin and Pemiscot Counties, where maybe the anti-B forces couldn’t penetrate. Or Kennett, Missouri loves puppies
Suburban voters and Rural voters have some differences of opinion in regards to voting habits and views on issues. Even some of the more traditionally fiscally conservative areas in the suburbs and SW Missouri approved of Prop B. But apparently so much of the anti-B media or word of mouth occurred in rural areas.
…We celebrate pets, as well as wildlife and habitat protection. We are the nation’s most important advocate for local humane societies, providing shelter standards and evaluations, training programs, a national advertising campaign to promote pet adoption…
What is it about promoting pet adoption that would lead anyone to assert is a sign of “…attempting to abolish pet ownership…”? It’s either stupidity or wholesale contempt for Missouri voters, or both. Take your pick.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
New York, NY
That’s no typo. That’s $200,000.00. Radicals:
…Incorporated in 1866 by a special act of the New York State legislature, the ASPCA has a history rich in challenges and victories-from providing care and protection for the city’s working horses and transforming dog pounds into professionally run adoptions facilities to founding an animal hospital that is still running today…
Yeah, that’s certainly radical. Not.
The complete “truthiness” palm card:
…Only the most heartless would vote against a bill that would save a countless number of puppies from a life of cruelty…
The only proper response to this is, no shit, Sherlock.
And only in our current political environment can a fly by night campaign committee funded by the usual suspects label long standing institutions as “radical” and believe they can get away with it.