There are concerns in the House that special interest groups may have plans to push their agendas on the livestock industry. House Agri-Business Committee Chairman Brian Munzlinger of Williamstown is sponsoring HB 2291; creating the Missouri Animal Care Advisory Committee, which would make recommendations to the legislature on possible policy changes in the poultry, livestock, and licensed dog breeding industries.
“Seeing how they fit within the standards that our industry here actually have. We have in our livestock industry here, animal and poultry industries, they all have high standards that those commodity groups, associations encourage their members to meet,” Munzlinger said.
That group would consist of experts from state universities, the State Veterinarian, and representatives from various agriculture groups like the Cattlemen’s Association or Pork Association. The goal is to give a single, authoritative voice to defend the agriculture industry’s interests.
Munzlinger says this idea is reactionary, after seeing how special interest groups affected agriculture policies in states like California and Michigan. He also points to the recent effort by the Humane Society of the United States to get an initiative petition on the ballot in Missouri to regulate the dog breeding industry. Munzlinger fears that may just be the humane society’s first step.
“Because they can build grassroots support and gain a following and then come after animal agriculture. Actually, the guy that testified in another committee left it open that they could be after animal agriculture in the future which is real scary. Agriculture here in Missouri is our largest industry, and really about $12 billion a year,” Munzlinger said.
Munzlinger says he did start writing this bill before the HSUS’s initiative petition was put forward. He says the idea for this committee, and two other bills with similar goals of protecting the livestock industry’s interests, were mostly formulated in response to policy changes in other states that were initiated by special interest groups.