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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anthony C.

good work, but it takes every one to step up to stop it. with a very aggressive intervention we have made clear this will not continue without consequence. peace, through superior power.


Is this true, as reported on CNN?
"A bipartisan deal on a new farm bill reached earlier this week could trim $90 a month in benefits for 850,000 food stamp recipients, saving the government nearly $1 billion a year."
I applaud the victories for animals, but if Congress is bundling this with defeats for humans, what should we do? And that's not a rhetorical question!


Yay! I am so happy. I am always upset and in tears when I think about the horrific stuff people do to these animals. I still think they deserve what they do the dogs if not worse.

Paul Mencke

Don't give up yet. This bill could be changed very easily in the Senate and all the things you didn't want could be back in.


Certainly overdue, and I agree wholeheartedly that the USDA has never done enough to regulate puppy mills. These cruel factories of greed should be outlawed completely. And where is the USDA when it comes to factory farming?! It's still going on, in this so- called civilized country of ours.

stewart parks

I am truly thankful for the people who fight for laws to protect animals rights. This is the right and good and moral thing to do. This fight, though is never ending. Keeping caring people informed is so important . Once again many thanks.

Marrianne Nadler

Yes this is long over due, but it doesn't go far enough. But I know baby steps. And to Cynthia S., you can't teach people like Michael Vick to love and respect dogs in prison. It's something they either feel or they don't. It's just that simple. And he probably will never understand that pitbulls are not to wager money on. They are put on this earth to love, cherish and respect the same way we want to be treated. But like I said, he'll never really get that! Sad, huh?

Vickie Lee

I am overjoyed with this good news! Thank everyone for all the hard work to help these poor animals.! I hope Rep Steve King rots in hell. He is a heartless and greedy soul. He cares nothing for the animals suffering and his only goal is to help his own state profit. Thank you ASPCA for all you do.

Jessica B.

Lots of hard work, congrats! It's the year of the horse. Let's everyone keep on fighting and writing to get horse slaughter stopped period. Owners who share a partnership with their horses, have a bond just like owners of dogs and cats. Horses provide people with great joy, loyalty and service. They deserve to be treated with respect and compassion at end of life, not pain, suffering and terror.

Lisa Kessler

Bless you all for our hard work in striving to maintain animal rights and protection. Thank you.