The U.S. Senate approved the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (S. 3880) last week, which would close loopholes and increase penalties in a federal law dealing with criminal acts against animal enterprises. The bill amends the previously enacted Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 – an animal agriculture and biomedical research initiative that made animal-rights terrorism a federal crime.

The new bill would revise criminal prohibitions against damaging or interfering with the operation of an animal enterprise. This includes intentional damage or property loss, intentional death threats or serious bodily injury against individuals involved with animal enterprises, their family members or intimate partners.

It also would increase the penalties for such crimes, as well as modify the animal enterprise definition to include one that uses or sells animals or animal products for profit or education; and an animal shelter, pet store, breeder or furrier. “Expressive conduct” such as picketing would be protected by the First Amendment.

The National Pork Producers Council supports the legislation and its companion bill (H.R. 4239). The Humane Society of the United States has launched a campaign to derail the legislation.