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Serving: IN

Call to Arms for Animal Rights Legislation

Is it setting the stage for more aggressive action later?

Puppy mill legislation got quite a bit of press at the Indiana General Assembly this winter. Whether or not it becomes law remains to be seen. And no doubt many behind it have pure interests at heart. But insiders say they're getting a big push form 'hired guns'- representatives of the Humane Society of the United States and the like, who are now walking the halls of the Indiana statehouse It's raising enough eyebrows that we posted a Web item explaining it more fully last Thursday.

Now comes word form an impeccable source that farmers paying attention to such legislation are anything but paranoid. Bob Kraft, Indiana Farm Bureau lobbyist, just reported that the bill made it through its first hurdle. It's still alive halfway through the session, after the first critical 'kill' date for bills.

Not only is it still alive, but it is gaining support from numerous animal rights supporters. Kraft is including it as one of the top three issues he's asking his members to talk to their representatives and senators about during the back half of the session. The other two are the property tax cap amendment, passed by the Senate, and a bill carrying proposed rules and regulations about animal confined feeding units.

Recent news from California raises the specter that Proposition Two, a ballot initiative passed by voters there by an overwhelming margin last spring, may have only been the tip of the iceberg. It illustrates Kraft's point. Once these groups get a foothold, often through an innocent first step, they move on to their real agenda. Things are going far left quickly on the animal rights issue in California. He doesn't want to see that happen here.

Feedstuffs magazine, a Farm Progress publication, is now reporting that a state senator has proposed a ban on tail docking of dairy cattle there. It's currently making its way through the California legislative system, but it's just one more sign that legislators in that state are lining up with animal rights activists- not just animal welfare supporters.

The bill was introduced by the state Senate majority leader, Dean Florez, and quickly praised by the Humane Society of America. They were quick to claim that the long-accepted practice is inhumane to animals.

What's more troubling, reports Jane Ade Stevens, editor of the Indiana Livestock Newsletter, sponsored by the Growing Indiana Agriculture project, is that the Democrat, Florez, is the new chairman of what was the Food and Agriculture Committee. He's known to be friendly to animal rights groups, but not to farm leaders and their organizations. In fact, he has tangled with agricultural interests on numerous occasions in the past, according to reports in Pork Magazine.

In fact, he's already convened a special hearing of an oversight committee to explore animal welfare issues this session. All this is happening in a state where agriculture is the number one industry economically.

Who says it couldn't happen here?

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