Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Legislation Introduced to Start Animal Welfare Commission

Commission would combat efforts by Humane Society of the United States
by Tim Thornberry February 16, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - As animal rights organizations look to press a stronger anti-cruelty agenda with the state's legislators during the next session, pro-farm groups are hoping the formation of a new commission will allow the state to manage its own standards for animal care.

On a recent visit to Kentucky, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) visited with supporters to rally the troops for the legislative session. The organization's agenda included shoring up existing anti-cruelty laws including those against cockfighting and the practice of soring as it pertains to walking horses.

When asked if his association was against animal agriculture, he said the HSUS is not against it by any means, adding that theirs is not an anti-meat campaign but an anti-abuse campaign.

But not everyone is convinced of that.

Even in a slow economy, the agriculture industry in Kentucky, and the animal agriculture sector in particular, has been a major contributor to economic development throughout the state. Last year, livestock production accounted for nearly $2.5 billion in cash receipts. Over the years, anti-cruelty groups have voiced concerns over the treatment of livestock — so much concern that they have worked to introduce legislation in many states to change laws governing how the animals are kept.

But pro-farming organizations are hopeful that a new piece of legislation recently introduced in the state Senate will keep such initiatives out of Kentucky.

Senate Bill 105 was brought before the Senate Agriculture Committee by Sen. David Givens with a full meeting room of supporters and non-supporters present.

The bill would create a 14-member Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission which would set rules for the treatment of animals on the farm, be administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and chaired by the state's agriculture commissioner. The legislation would also prevent local governments from passing standards that are stricter than those set by the commission.
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