Inside D.C.

HSUS Pushing for Farm Bill Animal ‘Welfare’ Title

Ignore the following at your own peril:  The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) is working its tail off to get an animal “welfare” title into the 2018 Farm Bill.  You’ve been warned.

At the August 5 House Agriculture Committee’s listening session in Modesto, California, “several speakers,” by one media account, called on the committee to include in the new Farm Bill legislation dealing with so-called “animal welfare issues.”  HSUS seriously needs a legislative “win” to placate those among its donors who value such things.  It’s been remarkably unsuccessful on Capitol Hill in recent years, even when Barack Obama was president.

The logic behind using the Farm Bill as the vehicle is two-fold:  First, the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is administered and enforced by USDA. along with the Horse Protection Act (HPA).  Second, the 2014 Farm Bill — along with two previous farm bills — carried animal fighting language, most recently making it illegal to take a minor child to an already-illegal animal fight, expanding on an HSUS fave.  This was a bone thrown to HSUS when Congress refused to go along with its expensive and ill-advised legislative campaign to make California’s Proposition 2 mandating cage-free egg production the law of the land.  HSUS is quick to point out the “precedent” set by such actions.

The bills pushed by HSUS and its band of foot soldier organizations appear on their face to be unrelated and almost innocuous when it comes to the anti-agriculture and anti-biomedical research campaigns waged by the world largest animal rights group.  The animal rights movement counts on members of Congress seeing “aye” votes for these bills as “safe” votes when they’re anything but now that most ag groups keep animal rights score cards on how members of Congress vote on such legislation.

However, this political agenda is also packed with legislation that doesn’t merit the attention of Congress either because Congress has already acted to correct the wrong, or because the practices HSUS seeks to outlaw simply do not exist in the U.S.

The following is the initial list of legislation HSUS wants to see rolled into the Farm Bill, as provided by HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle’s most recent blog:

HR 1753/S 741, The Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act:  These bills attack federal check-off programs as “taxes imposed on agricultural industries that provide hundreds of millions of dollars to opponents of the humane treatment of animals.”  HSUS accuses USDA of “lax oversight” of check-off programs, so much that there are now “collusive and suspect relationships between USDA check-off boards and lobbying organizations that ultimately harm animals and farmers who believe in animal stewardship.”  Pacelle claims he’s got a coalition of “farming, animal welfare and conservative organizations” supporting the bill.  Only seven members agree based on cosponsorship in the House, with two in the Senate.

HR 1406, The Dog & Cat Meat Trade Prohibitions Act:  With 147 cosponsors, who can argue with such an honorable goal, namely amending the AWA and spending federal tax dollars to enforce a law to “prohibit the slaughter, trade, import or export of dogs and cats for human consumption.”  Pacelle says it’s needed to prevent “the dog and cat meat trade from taking hold in the U.S. while strengthening our country’s moral standing to press for reform worldwide…” HSUS is hammering on China, South Korea and other southeast Asian countries to “take a stand.”  There’s no evidence anyone in this country slaughters dogs and/or cats to sell their meat here or abroad.

HR 113/S 1706, The Safeguard American Food Exports Act:  This bill would make it illegal to transport and export U.S. horses to slaughter for human consumption, as is currently the practice with Mexico and Canada where horse slaughter is legal.  Pacelle says more than 100,000 horses a year cross the border to slaughter plants, but gives no source for the figure.  The last estimate I saw of the number of abandoned and neglected horses in the U.S. since USDA-regulated slaughter was ended was something over 200,000, many of which will die of disease or starvation.  Over 150 House members have signed on to this bill; only 10 Senators have signed on to that chamber’s version.

HR 1847, The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act:  HSUS never liked the federal Horse Protection Act, calling it a “weak federal law to end the failed system of industry self-policing.”  The bill has 252 cosponsor to redo what’s already been done, namely make the act of horse soring, along with the devices and penalties attached thereto, illegal.

HSUS is also pushing for a fourth set of amendments to the federal ban on animal fighting mentioned above, and now some lawmaker agrees it’s time “to clarify that federal law forbids animal fighting everywhere in the U.S., including U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.”

HR 909/S 322, The Pets & Women Safety Act:  This bill “protects battered domestic partners and their pets by extending current federal domestic violence protections to include pets,” while authorizing tax dollars to a grant program to modify domestic violence shelters to “accommodate pets or arrange for pet sheltering.”  The House bill has 231 cosponsors; the Senate version has 17 cosponsors.

Really? In the Farm Bill?

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