At dog breeder conference, candidates court agriculture vote

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Missouri News Horizon
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GOODMAN, Mo. — Among members of the Missouri dog breeding community, the wounds of 2010 have yet to heal.

That year, Missouri voters approved a ballot measure that strengthened regulations on the industry dealing with treatment of animals. Much of the law was overturned by lawmakers in the 2011 session of the Missouri General Assembly, with the support of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who signed compromise legislation brokered between agriculture and animal rights stakeholders.

Still, the industry has made its preference in this year’s gubernatorial election abundantly clear. Outside a breeder’s educational conference at Hunte Corporation in Goodman, Mo., a large sign for Nixon’s opponent, Republican Dave Spence, greeted attendees, and inside, attendees heard from the Republican slate of candidates seeking their support.

“Your industry is under attack with regulations in front of common sense,” Spence said to the approval of the crowd. “Our governor and agriculture director are trying to put you out of business.”

Spence suggested enforcement of the regulations effecting the breeding industry, which has an estimated $180 million economic impact on the state, be consolidated from the three different agencies through which they are currently enforced.

“It is an important industry to our state, so let’s not kill the golden goose,” Spence said.

Industry stakeholders also heard from Republican attorney general candidate Ed Martin at their meeting on Saturday. Martin was critical of incumbent Democrat Chris Koster for his support of regulations on the industry, accusing Koster of being “in the tank for the Humane Society,” which he deemed a strong foe of the breeding industry.

The point of the educational conference, which — with the balloon drop and patriotic music — had more of the feel of a political rally than a breeders meeting, sought to encourage industry stakeholders to vote. At Hunte Corporation, a company which has taken on a self-proclaimed religious lean, Martin said the election this year will be consequential.

“It’s your Christian duty as a man or women who loves the lord to vote,” he said.

In addition to Spence and Martin, Republican secretary of state candidate Shane Schoeller also spoke to the group.