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The following is from the American Horse Council:
June 29, 2018
Senate Acts Quickly to Move Farm Bill, Advances Some Animal Health Priorities
Following through on a commitment to pass a farm bill prior to the Fourth of July recess, on Thursday evening, June 28, the Senate passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3042) by a vote of 86 to 11. Unlike the House version of the bill that narrowly passed by a two vote margin on June 21, the Senate bill moved forward with strong, bipartisan support. Fortunately for the horse industry, the Senate package resembles the House version by addressing many of the sector’s top animal health priorities. Highlights include authorization of a new National Animal Disaster Preparedness and Response (NADPR) program; support for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN); and creation of the National Animal Health Vaccine Bank that will focus on risks posed by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
With respect to authorization of animal health programs, a preliminary review shows that the Senate bill more closely aligns with horse industry priorities than the House bill. For example, the Senate bill authorizes $30 million each year to fund the NAHLN, matching the request from the horse industry and its partners. Although the bill doesn’t authorize specific dollar amounts for the NADPR and the vaccine banks, it creates flexibility by “authorizing sums as necessary” to implement the programs. AHC will continue to review the senate version of the bill for provisions that could impact the industry, including programs administered by the Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service that could help develop international markets for the sector.
Now that each chamber has reported its respective bill, Congress will convene a House and Senate Conference Committee to negotiate a final package to send to the White House for enactment. AHC is already reaching out to congressional negotiators to underscore the industry’s priorities as the legislation moves forward. For example, the senate bill includes a definition for “pets” that includes horses, per a program outlining restitution for incidents of domestic violence. AHC has already communicated with Senate and House leadership recommending a definitional change that will avoid confusion within the industry, and clarify federal classifications of horses as “livestock.” For more information related to farm legislation and related advocacy, please contact Bryan Brendle, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at 202-296-4031. To view a copy of a summary of the bill, please click here: