In the wake of a failed vote on the 2018 farm bill on May 18—largely precipitated by controversy surrounding unrelated immigration policy issues—on June 21 House lawmakers revisited the legislation and finally passed the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) by a vote of 213 to 211.
Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he plans to pass companion legislation in the upper chamber before July 4, Congress appears to be poised to finalize a bill prior to expiration of Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs on September 30.
During meetings on Capitol Hill the week of June 11, multiple senate offices echoed a commitment to the deadline, reminding members of the horse industry that the chamber is prepared to work into the August recess to complete its legislative business prior to the mid-term elections in the fall.
Fortunately for the horse industry, the $868 billion, five-year package includes provisions addressing some of AHC’s top priorities: authorization of a new National Animal Disaster Preparedness and Response (NADPR) program; additional support for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network; and creation of the National Animal Health Vaccine Bank that will prioritize risks posed by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), among other threats.
A preliminary review of the bill shows that although lawmakers generally met industry’s full funding request—totaling $250 million for the priority issues outlined above—for FY2019 only, the bill reduces those funds during subsequent fiscal years. For example, the horse industry and its partners requested $70 million each year to fund the NADPR, but received $30 million for 2020 and beyond. Fortunately for the horse industry, the final bill authorizes $150 million for a “priority FMD vaccine bank,” opening the door for funding vaccines that will mitigate other diseases.
AHC will continue to advocate for industry priorities as the legislation moves forward.
To view a copy of the legislation, please click here: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr2/BILLS-115hr2rh.pdf.