On July 8, 2015, the House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill. This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2016 fiscal year (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016). The bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including funding for USDA equine health activities and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.
FY 2016 House USDA Appropriations
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Equine Health
The bill would provide $871 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 Rumiant health would be set at $19.5 million, this is the same amount that was appropriated in FY 2015.
Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) offered an amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities that was defeated in a 24-24 vote. Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) spoke in opposition to the amendment. Such a prohibition would have prevented horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S. had it been included in the bill.
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 2015 USDA bill remains in effect until September 30, 2015. Once that prohibition expires, USDA will be required to provide inspectors and horse slaughter facilities if any were to open.
A similar defunding amendment could still be offered when the bill is debated by the full House or when the Senate begins work on their version of the USDA appropriations bill.
Horse Protection Act
The bill provides $697,000 for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. This is the same amount that was appropriated in FY 2015.
The bill must now be approved by the full House.