|By SARAH B. AUBREY
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a move to encourage tougher penalties and to close loopholes, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act on Nov. 13.
The bill, expected to be signed by President Bush, is aimed at strengthening laws that deal with prosecuting criminal acts against animal agriculture enterprises including processing facilities, research locations and farms. This bill adds specific improvements to the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992.
The passing of the bill by the house comes on the heels of unanimous consent by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 30 and addresses specific topics for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute animal rights activists’ terrorist-type acts against animal agriculture.
“We’ve tracked the progress of this bill through working with our friends at NCBA (National Cattleman’s Beef Assoc.) and their efforts on the hill. It primarily deals with research labs and production locations to a lesser extent,” said Julia Wickard executive director of the Indiana Beef Cattleman’s Assoc., based in Indianapolis. “This bill is for making sure that there’s no infringement on property by activists and if there is that there’s prosecution.
“We’re really supportive of it (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), because in the event that a lab or research facility was vandalized in the past we’ve seen ramifications such as injury to people and their families that work there. Now, if harm comes to people, this gives the courts more authority and direction to prosecute the activists that caused the problem.”
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit coalition of the animal agriculture industry is “thrilled” with the passing of the new legislation.
“Our belief is that this much needed law will save more than one life by making some animal rights and environmental zealots think twice before engaging in such illegal and unethical activities,” said Kay Johnson, executive vice president of the Alliance.
Johnson was speaking about incidents where animal rights activists have injured and killed workers by throwing firebombs.
“At the U.S. level and in the state of Indiana there are larger facilities going up all the time. This (act) should allow communities and people to take notice and laws to be enforced,” clarified Wickard.
“We do have safeguards in place now and I think there’s some discussion of pieces of legislation in Indiana in 2007 to ensure protection for the agriculture community and to ensure growth.”
This farm news was published in the Dec. 6, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.