Well, its happened, then news and animal rights activist have decided that Tennessee needs to be the next target – at least middle Tennessee where I live is feeling the strain. There is legislation in the state at the moment to change the laws that we have dealing with animal cruelty that were written by people that do not understand the current system of legislation that is in play. These same people have been quite vocal in denigrating farmers and the Tennessee Farm Bureau in our lack of sponsorship of these bills. These are poorly written legislation that do little to protect animals, Tennessee already has some of the strictest animal cruelty laws in the nation if they were enforced.
In no shape form or fashion do myself or any decent farmer that I know condone the mistreatment of any animal – neither does the Farm Bureau. For years farmers have been the stewards of our environment and our livestock. In years past, farmers depended on their animals not only for their food but for assistance with producing their crops. Now we depend on our animals for income and in some cases for enjoyment. I take offence when the local new media in our area choose to interview owners of 1-2 burrows and a horse as a farmer instead of a production agriculturist on this issue. Farm Bureau Members believe that whenever someone is found guilty of animal cruelty there should be swift and just punishment in accordance of the law.
Speaking of the law, lets talk a bit about Tennessee’s animal cruelty laws since the news is not educating you about it… Today in our state we have two separate statutes on animal abuse.
The first is TCA 39-14-202 Animal Cruelty – passed in 2002 and Farm Bureau worked with the bills sponsors- this deals with intentionally or knowingly torturing, maiming, grossly overworking, failing to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter for an animal, abandoning and animal, or transporting and animal in a cruel manner. This law carries a punishment of up to 11 MONTHS & 29 DAYS IN JAIL AND $2500 FINE PER ANIMAL. (It is already against the law in this state to fail to feed and water your animals – it may not being enforced) This law applies to all animal including livestock. A second conviction of this act is already a felony.
The second is TCA 39-14-212 Aggravated Animal Cruelty – this deals with crimes against animals that they merited a Felony charge on the first offence as it presently stands. this deals with crimes such as setting an animal on fire, chopping an animal up, etc. This is due to the fact that persons who are willing to commit these crimes against animals will likely commit crimes against people latter in life. Again Farm Bureau worked with the bills sponsors when it was passed.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Tennessee animal protection laws in the top tier of 50 states. This Fund was founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law, ALDF pushes for stronger enforcement of animal cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals. The report is release on a yearly basis and ranks based on 14 categories of animal protection laws. BUT we did not hear that on the news.
As a Tennessee Farmer and Farm Bureau member, I am very disappointed in the one sided reported and misrepresentation to the House Ag committee and to the People of Tennessee. the local new media has chose to report that farmers do not care about animal rights when we have a record in this state of being proactive champions for animal rights.
Since 2002 Farm Bureau has actively supported every ethical bill for animal rights as is show by our high ranking to such organizations as the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Farmers want and need healthy animals. We already have good laws to this effect. We need to support and enforce the laws we have. Thanks for listening…