Livestock farmers care for their animals and work closely with veterinarians to keep them healthy. Yet a bill being considered in the Wisconsin State Assembly “needs to be changed so that if a farmer does not call a veterinarian after a cow falls down, he or she does not become a felon” says the state’s largest farm organization.

Paul Zimmerman, chief lobbyist for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF) says that “as drafted, Assembly Bill 747 is problematic for Wisconsin livestock farmers.”

Zimmerman testified in opposition of the bill at its Feb. 24 public hearing before the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice.

He noted that WFBF’s position on AB 747 is unrelated to companion animals, and that much of the bill has the laudable goal of trying to prevent animal cruelty of companion animals or the threat to do so in the presence of children and strengthening the penalties for doing so.

However, the bill amends the state’s definition of “cruel” to mean “causing or failing to prevent unnecessary and excessive pain or suffering or unjustifiable injury or death.” Zimmerman said that on face value, that may seem appropriate to some, but that the inclusion of the words “or failing to prevent” could be troublesome for owners of livestock. He explained that while farmers care for their livestock 365 days a year, an animal can still become injured due to no fault of their owner.

“When needed, the farmer may call a veterinarian to care for injured animals. At other times, a veterinarian may not be called because the farmer wishes to see if the animal will heal on its own,” Zimmerman testified. “Sometimes livestock market prices make it not economically viable to treat certain injured animals. To further complicate this situation many injured animals are not viable for slaughter due to increased standards to insure a safe food supply. So farmers are put in the position, do they see if the injured animal can recover on its own or do they put it to death.”

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau notes that although instances of animal cruelty in Wisconsin were cited as the need for this bill, it appears to be a coordinated effort by the animal rights movement, as similar legislation has been introduced in other Midwestern states.

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Source: Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation