Senate Committee Approves USDA Appropriations Bill

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On May 19 the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill. This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2017 fiscal year (October 1, 2016, through September 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.

FY 2016 House USDA Appropriations

Horse Slaughter

Senator 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. Thiprohibition 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 September 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 Rumiant 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.