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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

New law sets standards for livestock care

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

By JOEL TURNER - Staff Writer

Virginia has legally-mandated standards for the care of agricultural animals, such as cows and horses.

The new law, which went into effect July 1, requires that farmers give their animals proper feed, water and veterinary care. It is intended to apply to individuals who fail to provide for the basic needs of their livestock.

The General Assembly voted to approve the legislation earlier this year, and Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law.

"We believe that this law will demonstrate our farmers' commitment to the welfare of agricultural animals," said Lindsay Reames, assistant director of governmental relations for the Virginia Farm Bureau.

"We created the (legislation) for Virginia farmers who produce our food supply and care for the animals that are raised for fool," Reames said. "There previously were no laws on the books that spelled out standards of care for agricultural animals, only companion animals."

The legislation resulted from collaboration among state legislators, attorney general, state veterinarian, Virginia Agribusiness Council, Farm Bureau, Virginia Veterinary Medical Association and Virginia Association of Counties.

The new law complements existing animal cruelty laws, which don't allow charging livestock or poultry owners with neglect if the situation if not serious enough to meet the threshold of cruelty. The legislation will allow for earlier intervention in cases of animal neglect.

If animal cruelty has occurred, the charge would be a Class 1 misdemeanor under current law. The new law provides for the addition of a Class 4 penalty for cases that don't qualify as animal cruelty, but still negatively affect an animal's welfare.

The law also clarifies certain procedures for the seizure and impoundment of agricultural animals and allows agricultural animals whose owner has not met the new standards to be sold by a local governing body.

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