The Tennessee Legislature has steadfastly refused to increase the penalties for cockfighting—it remains a misdemeanor offense in the state, despite the prevalence of the activity in places like Del Rio, in Cocke County, in years past.
But the farm bill that cleared the U.S. Senate last week just changed everything.
The bill makes cockfighting a felony. And the penalty for bringing an underage child to a cockfight is three years in prison. Now the state Legislature is not likely to move a pending bill that would increase penalties and make cockfighting a felony.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander voted for the farm bill and the increased penalties for cockfighting, thus likely losing the cockfighting vote in his upcoming election. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker joined 23 Republicans voting against it.
The $956 billion bill funds farm programs for five years and includes cutting Food Stamps by $8 billion over 10 years. It passed 68-32 with 22 Republican votes joining 44 Democrats and two independents.