Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year 2021 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which includes numerous provisions aimed at improving the lives of animals. The bill continues vital protections from previous years, including protecting horses from slaughter and cruel “soring,” and makes new advancements on two priority issues: protecting animals at puppy mills, zoos and animal research labs by requiring disaster preparation, and slowing down slaughter line speeds to better protect animals and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are grateful to the committee for including the following provisions in the bill:
- Horse Slaughter: Prohibits funding for the operation of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S.
- Horse Soring: Doubles current funding of the Horse Protection Act to help the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforce this law aimed at preventing the cruel practice of “soring,” the use of painful chemicals and devices to inflict pain in horses to compel an exaggerated, high-stepping gait. The report accompanying the bill also directs the USDA to finally start enforcing regulations that will prevent horse soring.
- Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse: Provides $3 million in funding to implement portions of the PAWS Act and provide grants to help survivors of domestic violence and their at-risk pets.
- Animals in Disasters: Directs the USDA to implement a rule the agency delayed seven years ago that would require puppy mills, zoos and animal research laboratories to have plans in place to safely care for animals in case of an emergency, including natural disasters or pandemics.
- Slaughter Line Speeds: Prevents slaughterhouses from operating at extremely fast speeds, which present additional dangers for animals, workers and consumer safety, during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In addition, the committee encouraged the USDA to crack down on animal fighting, thoroughly inspect federal facilities that use animals for agriculture research, make note of any animal care violations in federally inspected puppy mills, ensure that food safety inspectors receive required training in humane handling, and properly assess and account for requested or completed slaughter line speed increases.
The bill now moves on to the House floor, and then must be reconciled with the Senate’s version before these provisions can become law. Please join the ASPCA’s Regional Advocacy Field Team to engage in opportunities to ensure these provisions are passed as part of a final FY21 Appropriations package!
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