NDFB testifies on SB 2211

Created: 3/08/13 (Fri) | Topic:

The House Ag Committee heard testimony on SB 2211, the animal cruelty bill, on Thursday. North Dakota Farm Bureau stood in opposition unless the bill was amended. NDFB lobbyist Tom Bodine testified for the organization.

In his written testimony, Bodine noted, “We believe egregious acts of cruelty against an animal should be dealt with. Individuals who commit these unconscionable acts deserve to be, and should be, punished to the full extent of the law. However, the definition of cruelty contained in this bill is completely and totally subjective and could be, and likely would be, interpreted by activists to the detriment of agriculture.”

Farm Bureau also opposes a class C felony in three sections of the bill that address adequate care, animal abuse and animal abandonment, but believes the class C felony in the animal cruelty section should be maintained.

“As we see it, extreme cases involving lack of adequate care, animal abuse and abandonment could be construed as an act of animal cruelty, and thus do not need to carry a felony penalty for each section,” Bodine wrote.

Farm Bureau believes that animal cruelty needs to be specifically defined so what is and what is not cruelty is clear, and that an individual who  is accused of a violation should not be considered  guilty until proven innocent.

“If animals are confiscated, the accused should only bear the cost of seizure and proceedings if found guilty,” Bodine said.

From the point the bill was introduced in January, NDFB has maintained that it needed amendments to safeguard animal agriculture. In late January, NDFB President Doyle Johannes was the only individual at the Senate hearing who shared
concerns with the legislation.

“As much as we support most of this bill and  appreciate all the long hours and hard discussion it took to get to this point, we stand in firm opposition to some of the felony penalties in this
bill,” he said before the Senate Ag Committee in late January.

Johannes offered amendments to the bill that would have removed the felony penalty from the definitions of adequate care, abandonment and abuse, but retain the felony penalty in the animal cruelty definition. The amendments were not
passed, however, and the bill passed out of the Senate 45-0.

House Agriculture Committee chairman Rep. Dennis Johnson has named a subcommittee to take a closer look at the bill and any proposed amendments.

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