The Iowa House has voted to exempt farmers from a law proposed as a crack down on those who torture animals. The Iowa Senate voted to create a new crime of “animal and livestock torture” — committed by someone with a “depraved or sadistic intent to inflict severe physical pain in order to prolong suffering or death.” Representative Teresa Garman of rural Ames convinced the House to keep livestock out of it. Garman says it would invite animal rights activists to look over the shoulder of farmers as they’re doing their work. Representative James Drees of Manning said livestock shouldn’t be included in the bill, as city folks think something’s torture when it’s not. He says if you saw a farmer loading hogs and using an electric prod, that could be called torture. But Drees says farmers need to use the devices to load the animals.Representative Lance Horbach of Tama feared the law, if it covered livestock, would give ammunition to animal rights activists. But others, like Representative Mary Mascher of Iowa City, said traditional farming practices would never be challenged in court. She says she grew up on farms and help castrate hogs and doesn’t believe anyone would consider it illegal.Representative Galen Davis of Ottumwa argued for the heightened penaltyfor people who torture livestock. He says he raises quarter horses and doesn’t want people coming onto his land and carving up his animals. He said the bill is not aimed at farmers, it’s aimed at people who are going to come onto other people’s land and torture animals.Representative Mike Cormack of Fort Dodge said the House was giving a “free pass” to people who sneak into fields and torture livestock.The issue now goes back to the Senate, which must decide whether to accept the change in the bill made last night by the House.
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