Missouri could soon criminalize people if they interfere with the shipping of livestock. The state legislature passed a bill this year that would boost the penalty.

The current punishment is a misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine.

Representative Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, is the sponsor of the bill that would create the offense of interference with transportation of livestock. The offense would be a class E felony for the first time and a class C felony for any subsequent offenses.

Under the proposal, a person commits the crime if he or she knowingly stops, hinders, impedes, boards, or otherwise interferes with a motor vehicle transporting livestock; provokes or disturbs livestock confined in a motor vehicle; or puts a compound or substance on livestock that would affect the livestock’s marketability, affect animal or human health, or result in an unreasonable transportation delay.

Shields said she sponsored the bill because a large pork processing plant in her district was having problems transferring hogs.

“They would slow down or stop the truck. They would throw tainted water into the truck, or they would put hypodermic needles into the hogs and it would really affect the entire process,” she said.

Shields said consumers expect a quality, reliable, and safe food supply when they go to a grocery store.

“The processor expects that pig hasn’t been tampered with,” she said. “They can go through the entire process to the plant, making sure that that pig is clean and free of any contaminants. And if they come across one of these hypodermic needles, the entire plant shuts down until they can find the source of where these have come. The entire line is cleaned, so we lose production time.”

That production loss could be passed on.

“You are not just talking about jobs,” said Shields. “But if this happens often, you’re going to see increased prices at the grocery store. Because if you have lots of interruptions in production, somebody has to pay for that. And the people that do this most of the time are talking about animal rights. But you know, these animals are transported and it’s been proven over again that these animals are transported in very safe way the trucks are designed and so that the animals have very little stress.”

Her bill, which was added to a public safety package, awaits a decision from Gov. Mike Parson.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.