|The North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) has expressed profound disappointment in the actions of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who vetoed legislation — SB 506 and HB 1326 — that would have shifted oversight authority of the state’s growing deer industry to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. With the recent veto, regulatory authority over all deer — wild and farm-raised — will remain with the Missouri Conservation Department, which is overseen by a four-member commission appointed by the governor--this in contrast to approximately 40 states in the country with farmed cervid industries with the vast majority regulated in full or in part by the states’ departments of agriculture.
“While the governor touts his decision as being good for wild deer, these bills had absolutely nothing to do with wild deer. These types of political games and cronyism will kill a growing deer industry in Missouri and force most farmers to either quit or move to another state,” said Shawn Schafer, executive director for the North American Deer Farmers Association. “The Missouri Conservation Department, like most wildlife agencies, are very good at managing wildlife for hunting, but they have no experience with animal husbandry. In comparison, agriculture department personnel are knowledgeable and highly trained on issues relevant to raising and caring for animals, disease prevention and working with veterinarians. The governor’s veto clearly was based on politics and not on legitimate concerns for economic growth and sound agricultural practices.”
“The farmed elk industry in Missouri has been regulated by the Missouri Department of Agriculture since 1995," Schafer noted. "That’s nearly 20 years of expert management without having any impact on the state’s wild elk herd. If Missouri’s Department of Agriculture is the best agency to regulate farmed elk, why doesn’t Missouri’s governor trust them to regulate farmed deer," was a question that concerned Schafer.
NADeFA recently joined nearly a dozen agriculture-based organizations in Missouri which were urging the governor to sign the legislation that transfers oversight authority of the state’s deer industry to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The state agriculture organizations that supported the bills included Missouri AgriBusiness Association, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Missouri Corn Growers, Missouri Dairy Council, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Deer Association, Missouri Egg Council, Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, Missouri Pork Producers, Missouri Poultry Federation, and Missouri Soybean Association.
Earlier this year, Missouri lawmakers passed the legislation that would classify farmed deer as livestock and shift regulatory responsibility for the industry from the Missouri Department of Conservation to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Legislators and sponsors of the bill now plan to pursue a veto override attempt when they convene in September.
The North American Deer Farmers Association was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to the promotion of deer farming and ranching as an agricultural pursuit and serves its members through its educational programs and publications and by providing leadership in setting and maintaining quality standards. NADeFA represents the deer farming industry at all levels of government, and works closely with livestock producers and other organizations to promote ethical standards of conduct and husbandry in deer farming and to actively market standards for deer and deer products. NADeFA representatives are also available to media for expert testimony and information about deer farming and animal health issues, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD and other topics.
Editor's note: Governor Nixon's reasoning for the veto may be found here.