Current Issues

Congress Passes Six Month Funding Bill

On September 22, Congress passed, and the President is expected to sign, a six month Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through March of 2013.  This bill ensures government agencies and programs will continue to operate for the next six months including those important to the horse industry like the U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA) that plays an important roll in combating contagious equine disease. The CR also prohibits the Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing a new H-2B wage rule opposed by the AHC.  Additionally, the CR would continue to fund USDA inspections at horse slaughter facilities if any were to open in the next six months.

Normally, Congress debates and approves several separate appropriation bills for each federal agency.  This year, Congress failed to pass a single appropriations bill.  The FY 2012 appropriations bills that currently fund government agencies and programs will expire at the end of September.  The CR will continue funding for almost all programs and agencies slightly above FY 2012 spending levels.

The CR will continue to prohibit the DOL from implementing a new wage rule for the H-2B program.   The new wage rule is opposed by the American Horse Council (AHC) and other H-2B users because it would significantly increase the cost of using the program.

Additionally, while no horse slaughter facilities are currently operating in the U.S. the CR would provide funding for USDA inspections if any facility were opened.  For several years beginning in 2005 the USDA was prohibited from funding inspections at horse slaughter facilities, which prevented any such facility from operating in the U.S.  In the FY 2012 USDA appropriations bill the prohibition on funding for USDA inspections was lifted. The CR is a continuation of that law and would allow USDA inspections of horse slaughter faculties to resume if any were to open.


House Passes Livestock Disaster Bill

On August 2, the House passed the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012.  The bill would provide assistance to livestock producers impacted by the drought conditions affecting much of the country, including horse breeding farms and ranches. The bill must now be approved by the Senate.

The bill would reauthorize several disaster aid programs for livestock producers that expired last year; the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP). These programs are administrated by the USDA Farm Service Administration and compensation livestock producers for the loss of animals from natural disasters and help producers who have lost grazing land from drought pay for feed.

Farms and ranches that breed, raise, and sale horses as a business and are in declared disaster areas would be eligible for these programs.  Horses kept exclusively for racing, showing or recreation would not qualify.

Both the House and Senate have now left for the August “recess.” It is unclear when or whether the Senate will take action on this bill.  The larger five year Farm Bill currently working its way through Congress would also reauthorize these programs, however Congress has be unable to reach an agreement on that bill.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

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