U.S. Senate Committee Makes Animal Welfare Advances in the Farm Bill
On June 13, the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee advanced its version of the Farm Bill containing an important provision to protect both people and their pets.
The Senate’s “Agriculture Improvement Act” contains the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, vital legislation that aims to protect victims of domestic violence and their pets by making crossing state lines to injure a pet an offense punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill, introduced in the Senate last year by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dean Heller (R-NV), will also allow victims to recover veterinary costs and establish grants to help house victims and their at-risk pets. The protections offered in the PAWS Act will help victims of domestic violence and their pets escape abusive environments and seek the safety and shelter they need. The ASPCA applauds the Senate Agriculture Committee for including this provision and encourages House and Senate leaders to retain the measure in the final Farm Bill.
Besides the PAWS Act, what’s most notable about the Senate Farm Bill is what it doesn’t include. The Senate did not add any dangerous measures, such as the King Provision that appears in the U.S. House’s version of the bill, which would jeopardize state animal welfare laws across the country. The Senate also opted not to include proposals to weaken the National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) ability to recommend animal welfare improvements on organic farms. As the Farm Bill moves forward, the ASPCA will work to ensure that it does not contain the dangerous King Provision and maintains the integrity and authority of the NOSB.
Our work isn’t done yet. The full Senate needs to pass the Farm Bill and then reconcile any differences with the House, which will reconsider its version in the coming weeks. The ASPCA will continue to work with Congress to pass a Farm Bill that protects all animals from cruelty, but we need your help. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to contact your lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and urge them to oppose any language in the Farm Bill that will endanger animal welfare protections.