Two Major Victories for Animals in the Farm Bill

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 9:15am
US Capitol Building

Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations
*Updated 11:00 A.M. Wednesday, January 29*

After months of negotiations, the U.S. House Representatives voted Wednesday to pass the Farm Billlegislation to set policy for many federal agriculture programs. Thanks to all who lobbied Congress with us, animals can claim important victories on two fronts in this legislation. First, the Farm Bill contains a provision to crack down on animal fighting: gruesome spectacles where gamblers wager on animals who are forced to fight to the death. Second, this legislation protects the integrity of hundreds of state animal protection laws across the country from the grievous threat of the King Amendment. The ASPCA applauds Congress for advancing its crackdown on animal fighters while handing a defeat to animal abusers in the Farm Bill.

The animal fighting language in the Farm Bill establishes the first-ever federal penalties for attending an animal fight and criminalizes bringing a child to one of these heinous events. Reflecting the language of the Animal Fighting Spectator Act (H.R 366 / S. 666), this provision creates liability for the individuals whose illegal wagers and admission fees fuel this cruelty. It also ensures that organizers cannot easily escape prosecution by hiding in the crowd when law enforcement arrives, since now everyone in the crowd will be breaking the law.

The King Amendment, named after its sponsor, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), was an incredible federal power-grab that could have prevented states from enacting many of their own laws regarding the production of any “agricultural products”—a term so broad that it can include farm animals, dogs in puppy mills, and even locally grown fruits and vegetables. The defeat of the King Amendment preserves the historic power of states to pass laws that protect the health and welfare of animals.

After today’s vote in the House, the Farm Bill is headed to the Senate for consideration and passage.

The ASPCA Government Relations team has made passage of the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act and defeat of the King Amendment top priorities this Congress. We couldn’t have achieved these victories without the members of our Advocacy Brigade, who sent thousands of emails to their Members of Congress about the animal fighting bill and the King Amendment. 

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Diedra Richards

I am so thankful for all of you that have worked so hard to get this to come about. Great work everyone. I may not be able to financially help out, but I can definitely use my voice and votes. Thanks!

Erin J.

Bravo to you and all of your hard work. The animals need your voices and your voices have been heard!!! I am ecstatic!

Susan Canale

This is an awesome victory...and long overdue....


Thank so much for looking out for our loving animal they also got rights

Kat M

So thankful to have found this, and to know that something is being done. My son was researching on the internet for his 4 H dog project, and had been sullen for the whole evening. Finally, with tears in his eyes he told me that and came across a title on the web "dog fight to the death", and this was through crazy amounts of internet filters. My heart is breaking that he has to know that such horrific things are done to dogs. Please, please keep up the good work on behalf of four leggers, they so desperately need advocacy!

Susan Canale

It is so sad this cruel animal fighting has been going on for so glad when Michael Vick's ring was broken up...too bad he didn't serve more prison time..

Cynthia S

How about the allowance of taking pictures of farm animals so as to see the abuse going on. Was that passed?

Wendy H.

We are our animals voices & they continuously need to be heard - Thank you!

Eva Weiss

They need to pass a law to separate Companion Animals from farm animals. The USDA should not be in charge of the puppy mills. They allow them to get away with egregious acts of cruelty and end some of the suffering of untold animals.

Elizabeth Riley

I agree. My puppy came from a mill, his neck was bad and he had been beaten up. He was malnurished and his teeth were rotten. I am so glad I rescued him! Now he is spoiled rotten!