Opportunity for Animal Victories in the Senate’s Farm Bill
Update—June 29, 2018: Last night the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill by a vote of 86-11. The ASPCA commends the U.S. Senate for excluding the dangerous King provision that was included in the House-passed version. Additionally, the Senate included the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) to protect victims of domestic violence and their companion animals. Unfortunately, the Senate did not consider or pass the animal-protection amendments listed below. The House and Senate must now reconcile their different bills. The ASPCA will continue to work with Congress to finalize a Farm Bill that protects all animals from cruelty. You can help by contacting your members of Congress here.
This week the full U.S. Senate began debating its version of the Farm Bill, an extensive agricultural policy bill that heavily impacts our nation’s farms, nutrition programs and environment.
The Senate bill already includes the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act to protect survivors of domestic violence and their pets, and in further good news, there have been several additional amendments proposed that would directly impact animal welfare in positive ways:
- S.Amdt 3228: Filed by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), this amendment would provide clear standards for meat products labeled “grass-fed.” Currently, requirements for labels like “grass-fed” are lax and unclear, causing confusion in the marketplace. This amendment’s definition for grass-fed claims would ensure meaningful animal welfare standards. There is a vast divide between consumer expectations around certain food labels and the reality of farming practices. As long as the marketplace is cluttered with confusing labels, it will remain difficult for animal welfare-conscious consumers to make choices that match their values. Learn more about this issue and how to spot meaningful labels by visiting our Shop With Your Heart campaign.
- S.Amdt 3127: Filed by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), this amendment would add the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act to the Senate Farm Bill. Although cockfighting is illegal in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, it remains legal and prevalent in certain U.S. territories. This measure seeks to close this loophole and would ensure that we have strong federal laws to combat this terrible crime wherever it occurs.
- S.Amdt 3074: Filed by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), this amendment would add the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act to the Senate Farm Bill. It would ensure transparency and accountability in federal check-off programs. Check-off programs have been authorized by Congress, at the request of industry, to pool resources to promote eggs, beef, pork and other animal products. Unfortunately, check-off programs are susceptible to engaging in anti-competitive practices against higher-welfare animal products or plant-based alternatives. This amendment will ensure check-off program funding serves all producers, not just factory farms.
- S.Amdt 3279: Filed by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), this amendment would restrict Class B animal dealers, who sell “random source” dogs and cats—often stolen or lost household pets—for use in research.
- S.Amdts 3297, 3298, 3299: Filed by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – 3297 and 3298 – and Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Robert Menendez – 3299 – these amendments would protect American horses from the cruelty of horse slaughter for human consumption. Horse slaughter is opposed by 80% of Americans and has no place in our country. To support the ban, take action here.
The ASPCA supports each of these amendments and calls on Congress to add them to the final Farm Bill. For more information on how you can help ensure the Farm Bill protects animals, please join the Advocacy Brigade.