Here’s a heads up. Before the Congress adjourns for its month-long August recess, there’s a load of activity that may occur related to animal protection. And we are likely to need your calls and letters flowing into Congressional offices.
The big item on deck is the Farm Bill. Every five years, the Congress takes up a sweeping measure dealing with agriculture policy in the United States. The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to work on the bill all week, and the matter may come to the House floor during the following week. Senate action at this time is uncertain, but also imminent.
The bill is sure to be contentious. There will be big fights over how billions of dollars are allocated for agriculture producers and how much is spent on conservation. We also hope to see some animal protection provisions included in the final legislation.
I mentioned last week that two harmful provisions were stricken from the bill already—a $12 million subsidy for the veal industry and a provision that would have nullified state and local laws and regulations to protect animals. Good riddance to both provisions. They were indefensible, and we’ll be on the lookout should they resurface.
In addition to blocking harmful provisions, we want to see some pro-animal measures included in the final Farm Bill. Some weeks back, I wrote about a bill introduced by Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Phil English (R-Pa.)—an important effort to stop so-called Class B dealers who collect dogs and cats and channel them into animal research. Also, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) has a bill to ban the use of live animals in surgical sales demonstrations and to upgrade penalties for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
We also may see an effort to codify a ban on the processing of downer animals—animals too sick or injured to walk, who are dragged into slaughterhouses. The USDA published a final rule banning the processing of almost all downer cattle, but Congress may weigh in on the issue, too, and we have to be sure that any action it takes halts the abuse of these hapless creatures.
In addition, before the August recess, the Agriculture Appropriations bill may be considered by the full House. A number of animal welfare provisions may be up for votes on that bill, too.
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Thanks for your help and stay tuned for updates.