The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is seeking mandatory minimum sentences for felony theft of cattle, hogs and other livestock. The federation also included soybean, corn and other commodity theft.
While cattle prices are soaring, theft of livestock is on the rise, especially in states like Texas and Nebraska. Experts are saying that the issue could become more prevalent in Iowa as more cattle are raised in the area due to low corn prices and drought in Texas, according to Donnelle Eller for The Des Moines Register.
Larry Gray, executive director of law enforcement for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association says that thieves are generally familiar with the cattle industry. He said that to be able to steal cattle, the thief must be able to transport the cattle and know how to market the cattle.
Texas and Missouri already have harsher penalties for those who steal livestock. Stealing cattle or horses in Texas is a mandatory third-degree felony, which can land thieves in prison for two to 10 years. Thieves can also receive a maximum fine of $10,000. Second-degree theft can lead to a sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison, and the penalties can be extended to life in prison, according to Eller.
Currently in Iowa, cattle theft is treated like property theft and the maximum charge is 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if more than $10,000 in property is taken. The minimum charge is only a misdemeanor and leads to 30 days in jail and a $625 fine for less than $200 worth of property stolen.