Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations
Last week proved quite a week for animal issues in our nation’s capitol. The U.S. House of Representatives took up the Farm Bill, a large agriculture-policy bill passed by Congress every five years. The ASPCA has worked hard to ensure that the bill contained priority language to make it illegal to bring children to, or be a spectator at, organized animal fights (it is spectators who fuel the market for these disgusting events).
Unfortunately, the Farm Bill also included several troubling provisions for animals.
The worst of these was a provision authored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that sought to gut state and local laws that improve conditions for farm animals and any other animals that might fall under the vague “agricultural product” label. It could have invalidated important state laws that ban gestation crates and battery cages, and even undermine laws regulating puppy mills, preventing the killing of dogs or cats for food, and protecting consumers from dangerous food products.
An amendment was proposed to remove and replace this terrible provision with standards to improve the lives of egg-laying hens. Unfortunately, House leadership ruled against consideration of this amendment, as well as amendments to ban horse slaughter and clamp down on the practice of horse soring.
In a bittersweet twist of fate, the House Farm Bill was ultimately defeated on the floor last Thursday afternoon. It failed under the weight of all-too-familiar Washington gridlock. As the House of Representatives goes back to the drawing board with the Farm Bill, the ASPCA will work to make sure the bill includes animal welfare reforms and that Congress allows fair and open debate on issues like horse slaughter, horse soring and the treatment of our nation’s egg-laying hens.
On a more positive note, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to prevent horse slaughter from returning to the United States. Stay tuned for more information about that important development for our nation’s horses.
Whatever the challenges may be, the ASPCA continues to press policymakers in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals across the country to support better laws for animals. Be sure to sign up for the Advocacy Brigade for the latest news on legislation to protect animals.