The following information was provided by the American Horse Council.
On Jan. 29, 2014, The House of Representatives passed a multi-year Farm Bill known as the Agricultural Act of 2014. The bill will set national agriculture policy and reauthorize many U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs for the next five years. The horse industry is not as dependent on programs authorized by the Farm Bill as other segments of American agriculture. However, several programs important to the horse industry are reauthorized by the bill, including livestock disaster programs, the Market Access Program, and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President in the near future.
Agricultural Act of 2014
The bill will reauthorize and maintain current funding levels for the Market Access Program (MAP) until 2018. MAP provides funding for overseas marketing and promotional activities to help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. The program is used by the horse industry to promote American horses to foreign markets.
The bill will also reauthorize the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers. Assistance includes help to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and provide opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Horse farms and ranches are eligible for this program.
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP), which expired in 2011, are reauthorized. These programs are administrated by the USDA Farm Service Administration and compensate livestock producers, including horse breeding farms and ranches, for the loss of animals from natural disasters and diseases, and help producers who have lost grazing land from drought pay for feed.
The bill explicitly includes horses in the definition of livestock and ensures horse farms and ranches are eligible for disaster programs open to other livestock producers.
Additionally, the manager's statement accompanying the bill recognized the importance of equine health and encouraged USDA to increase resources for equine health research in its annual budget request.
The AHC supported reauthorization of these programs that are beneficial to the horse industry and the manager's statement regarding equine health.