DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa farm officials are seeking to enforce a mandatory minimum sentence for the felony theft of livestock and crops. Delegates of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation met last week to discuss proper punishment for people who steal cattle, hogs, corn, soybeans and other farm property, the Des Moines Register reported.
Some states are seeing an increase of cattle thefts since the price of the animals have reached record highs. The problem could soon make its way to Iowa, experts say, since the state is expected to raise more cattle in light of low corn prices and a drought in Texas, the leading producer of cattle in the U.S.
Iowa is the top corn-producing state with nearly 2.2 billion bushels last year, and is ranked sixth nationally for cattle. Corey Schultz is a region executive officer for the Livestock Marketing Association and works with livestock auctions in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. “The rise in cattle numbers, the rise in prices, you could definitely see a rise in cattle thefts,” Schultz said.
Novice thieves usually don’t steal livestock, according to Larry Gray, executive director of law enforcement for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. “Anyone can kick down the door to a house and steal a flat screen TV,” he said. “But to steal cattle – first you have to have the ability to transport those cattle. Then you have to have the knowledge to market the cattle. You can’t run down to the local pawn store and get some money for them.”