A bill that increases the penalties for cattle theft in Texas has passed the state legislature and is now on its way to the Governor.

"Texas is the number-one cattle producing state in the nation, but the penalty for cattle theft in Texas is more lenient than the neighboring states of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana," says Dave Scott of Richmond, TX, president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) .

"Cattle theft in Texas has more than doubled during the past year. To protect this $15 billion/year industry, Texas needs a stricter penalty. SB 1163 does that by increasing the penalty for cattle theft from a state jail felony to a third degree felony," Scott says.

In 2007, 2,400 head of cattle were reported stolen to TSCRA. In 2008, that number jumped to 6,404. Under current law, theft of less than 10 head of cattle, horses or exotic wildlife is a state jail felony.