Senate Committee Approves USDA Bill; Horse Slaughter Defunding Intact

“One step closer…”

Happy Pele by Terry FitchThe Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved its version of the 2017 fiscal year Agriculture Appropriations bill, the American Horse Council reports. This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017.  The bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including the so-called “horse slaughter defunding provision,” funding for USDA equine health activities and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

Horse Slaughter
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) offered an amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities that was  adopted by a voice vote. This prohibition will  prevent horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S. if this bill is signed into law.

Currently, No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S and a prohibition  on funding for inspectors at such facilities from last year’s FY 2016 USDA bill is in effect until Sept. 30, 2016. If that prohibition expires, USDA will be required to provide inspectors and horse slaughter facilities if any were to open.

A similar defunding  amendment was adopted by the House Appropriations Committee when it approved the House version of the USDA appropriations bill.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Equine Health
The bill would provide $939 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the USDA agency responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, including responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks.        Funding for Equine, Cervid, and Small Rumi ant health would be set at $19.7 million, this is a $200,000 increase over FY 2015.

Horse Protection Act
The bill provides $706,000  for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act a $9,000 increase over FY 2016 funding.

The bill must now be approved by the full Senate