Breaking news: Senate approves Farm Bill minus King amendment; includes major wins for animals

By on December 11, 2018 with 10 Comments

Update! The U.S. Senate has just voted to approve the Farm Bill by a vote of 87 to 13. The bill did not include the dreaded King amendment that had the potential to nullify important state and local laws protecting animals, but senators approved three key measures that benefit companion animals. The House is expected to vote on the bill later this week, so stay tuned for more updates on the blog.

The Farm Bill is not the most rousing of legislative packages, when it comes around every five years or so, but it’s mighty important in our fight to protect animals. For us, and for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, it’s become a last stand against one of the most reckless proposals ever introduced in any legislature — an amendment that Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has been attempting to foist upon his colleagues — and the rest of us.

Thankfully, the final Farm Bill language released last night by leaders of the U.S. House and Senate agriculture committees does not include the King amendment. So that dangerous amendment is going exactly where it deserves to go — nowhere.

The King amendment threatened to do immeasurable harm to animals, by nullifying state and local laws that address, among other issues, the consumption of horse and dog meat, ending the slaughter of horses, the extreme confinement of farm animals, shark finning and animals in puppy mills. But it also threatened to undermine the work states and localities do to protect their citizens in a broad range of policy areas, including food safety, child labor, opioids, pesticide exposure, fire-safe cigarettes, manure management and handling of diseased livestock. It was a straight-up attack on states’ rights to legislate to protect their citizens and animals, and it’s dead now.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund worked to marshal overwhelming opposition to the King amendment, bringing together a coalition of more than 225 groups across the political spectrum in opposition.

There was still more good news in the package released last night as it also includes language incorporating three animal protection bills that humane advocates have been working throughout the last session to push through:

  • The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act will extend current federal domestic violence protections to include pets and authorize grant money to help domestic violence shelters accommodate pets (only three percent currently allow pets) or arrange for pet shelter. The measure was supported by a broad network of domestic violence, law enforcement, veterinary and animal welfare organizations and pet product companies. The bill was originally introduced by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
  • The Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act will prevent this horrible trade from taking root here in the United States, and make it easier to advocate for its end worldwide. The consumption of dog and cat meat is already banned in some U.S. states, but if adopted, this provision in the Farm Bill would outlaw it nationwide. This gruesome trade kills some 30 million dogs and untold numbers of cats globally every year. Originally, the measure was introduced as a bill by Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., played key roles in getting it included in the Farm Bill.
  • The Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act clarifies that federal prohibitions against dogfighting and cockfighting activity apply to all U.S. jurisdictions, including the U.S. territories. The amendment will protect animals from cruelty, communities from associated criminal activity, and the public from disease transmission in the food supply. The measure was originally introduced by Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., helped get it into the Farm Bill.

Our work keeping the King amendment out of the Farm Bill language and securing these excellent reforms is a significant achievement, but we have more to do. In the coming days, we will need to keep up the fight to get the Farm Bill passed in its current form. Your support has been crucial in getting us to this point, and we need one more thing from you. Please call your U.S. Representative and urge that they support the 2018 Farm Bill. Among other things, you can remind them that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., worked hard to reach a strong bipartisan agreement on the Farm Bill. On those and other grounds, it deserves their support.

Companion Animals, Equine, Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Sally Palmer says:

    Thank you for the hard fight against greed, indifference, and cruelty that defeating the King amendment represents. Now it’s time for voters to call and write Congress to support the 2018 Farm Bill.

  2. Mary Jane Madigan says:

    Bless you a thousand times for all you do for the animals ! I am so glad that the King amendment has been defeated. That is great news and a real testament to your persistence, hard work and understanding the issues.

  3. Lee Heller says:

    Thank you, Kitty, and thanks to all the HSUS and HSLF staff who have worked so long and hard to get this bill where it is.

  4. Sue swanigan says:

    That is not correct if you would read the language it protects the farmers and animal owners and the pet owners from unlawful seizures. If they come and get your pet or your farm animals they take up them and sell them and you get nothing without a trial without being found guilty absolutely nothing.

  5. Elizabeth rodriguez says:

    Where is the bit about puppy mills? This is the absolute root of animal abuse in this country- too many unwanted animals and people buying expensive pure bred dogs with poor health issues and then dumping them in shelters. Until puppy mills and large scale breeders are eradicated (and backyard breeders strongly policed), our animal overpopulation problem will never subside, much less be solved.

    • Edward Machtinger says:

      The root of all animal abuse in this country is not puppy mills but the FAR larger number of animals who suffer terribly and are killed in the meat, dairy and egg industries. The numbers and amount of suffering isn’t even in the same realm. Don’t get me wrong, puppy mills are terrible and should be outlawed. But as people who care passionately about animals, we should understand the magnitude of each problem facing animals and work together on a long term clear-eyed strategy to make the world a kinder place to co-exist with all of them. Fighting the King Amendment is key to this strategy. Huge gratitude to all who worked so succussfully on this.

  6. Bernhard Goetz says:

    I dont understand why people are so weird about horse meat, I tried some in when I was in Germany, it was delicious and lean

    • Janet Shelnutt says:

      I think you must be missing the point, sir. We don’t really care if you think it’s delicious—we care about the horses!! What’s the matter with you??????

  7. Janet Shelnutt says:

    I love everything you do–you have my heart. I wondered who I should contact? I sent in my membership dues but never received my 2019 calendar. I always put in my office wall and it draws comments from patients in the doctor’s office I work in and encourages other people to join. Can someone please contact me because I never received my calendar I so look forward to every year?

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