A Missouri bill set to become law next month is designed to beef up the punishment for interfering in livestock shipments.

The state legislature passed and Gov. Mike Parson signed into law a bill that is on track to 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.

Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn said some animal rights activist groups have thrown liquids or objects into livestock trailers.

“What happens is that whole load gets condemned at that time. And so, the farmer who shipped those animals is now not going to get paid for them,” she told Missourinet.

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

“This was a very important bill,” said Chinn. “It’s important that they have some teeth to be able to punish the people who have just cost that farmer a lot of money. You know, they’ve spent many months raising those animals to be able to become food products and now they’re not able to be.”

Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, sponsored the bill. Shields said if someone at a processing plant finds a needle in a hog, the plant temporarily shuts down – losing production time and money. She said 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.”

Her bill is part of a public safety package.

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