May 12, 2010 by Julie Harker
Some Missouri Senators are pushing back on the HSUS-backed ballot initiative proposal that would severely restrict dog breeding practices in Missouri. The push-back proposal would require ANY petition issue placing ANY controls on animal agriculture to get a two-thirds majority to pass. It would set ag apart from all other issues that might go to the voters through petition campaigns.
Agriculture interests say the dog breeding proposal is OVER regulation in a state that was the first to pass comprehensive dog breeding rules, “It is a model used by all other states. So, to say that Missouri does not have (adequate) regulations is simply not the case,” says sponsor Bill Stouffer of Napton who says most in ag agree that the so-called “puppy mill” proposal is a precursor to a later petition aimed at killing livestock production.
And, Joplin Senator Gary Nodler says the term “puppy mill” is inflammatory language that stirs public emotion, “If that term is applied broadly to everybody that’s a dog breeder, it’s an unfair term. It’s a pejorative. It’s almost like – to use the term ‘puppy term’ it’s almost like using racial slurs.”
Senator Frank Barnitz of Lake Spring said the HSUS-backed ballot proposal to increase regulations on dog breeders is a threat to animal agriculture and he says pet-raising has saved a lot of farmers when the hog markets fell, “And they came up with these care standards of which fit very well for those hog producers that no longer were producing feeder pigs. So, then they had another mechanism to make money in agriculture and be able to raise their families and be able to stay on the farms.”
Barnitz says strict regulations as proposed by the HSUS and other animal rights groups would kill Missouri’s dog breeding industry, “It’d be like we going to Ford and saying, you know, ‘We appreciate you in Missouri, we’d like for you to be here. You can produce (only) a thousand cars.’”
The so-called “puppy mill” proposal would limit breeders to 50 sexually-intact female dogs. The Humane Society of the US says Missouri is the number one state for “puppy mills”, a term the animal rights activist group created.
Stouffer says he’s confident his proposed amendment can get through the Senate and then the House to get on this year’s November election ballot. IT would only need a simple majority from Missouri voters to become law.