The Vermont Senate is debating new penalties for slaughterhouses found to be engaging in abusive practices.

The amendment to a House-passed bill comes six months after an undercover video showing alleged inhumane treatment of calves at the Bushway Packing Co. slaughterhouse in Grand Isle resulted in that plant's shutdown by state and federal authorities.

The chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee — Democrat Sara Kittell of Franklin County — is urging against tough new penalties for slaughterhouse abuses now. She says her committee has not studied the issue in enough depth.

But backers of the amendment say the Bushway case put a black mark on Vermont agriculture that needs correcting as soon as possible.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.