A livestock theft bill (AB 924) moved swiftly through the California’s Senate and Assembly last week, passing with unanimous, bi-partisan support. It now is in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown and, if signed, would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.

The need for steeper fines for stealing livestock couldn’t come at a better time. Last year, more than 1,000 head of cattle were stolen from the state’s farmers and ranchers, costing ranchers around $1 million. Criminals aren’t just focusing on beef cattle. In July, thieves stole 26 Jersey calves from a Stanislaus County dairy.

According to Valley Public Radio, the bill merges two sections of existing law focusing on living and dead livestock into one and adds the $5,000 fine. All proceeds from the fines would go to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Bureau of Livestock Identification.

“This will help all livestock, whether you’re a bunny, whether you’re a goat producer, whether you’ve got a mule, a horse, sheep, lamb, hogs, it will help all of those producers through the same mechanism,” said Republican Assembly Member Frank Bigelow who authored AB 924 and is a cattle rancher in Madera County.

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