AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL — APR. 11, 2013 — On April 10, 2013, Secretary Vilsack unveiled the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) portion of the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2014. The President is required to submit a Budget to Congress every year. The President’s budget is only a request that is basically an outline of the administration’s priorities for the year ahead. It is up to Congress to set actual spending levels through the yearly appropriations process.
There are several items in the FY 2014 USDA budget request of interest to the horse industry such as proposed funding levels for equine health and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act as well as a proposal to stop horse slaughter facilities from reopening in the U.S.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
The President requests $725 million in funding for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), $25 million less than was appropriated in FY 2013. APHIS is the agency responsible for responding to equine disease outbreaks. This includes $4 million for equine and cervid health, 1.2 million less than FY 2013.
Agricultural Research Service
The request includes $1.303 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is USDA’s chief scientific research agency and has played a critical role in mitigating the health and economic impacts equine infectious diseases, such as Equine Piroplasmosis, have had on the horse industry. This is $172 million more than was appropriated in FY 2013.
Horse Protection Act
$893,000 is requested for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, an increase of $197,000.
Market Access Program
The request for the Market Access Program (MAP) is $197 million, a $4 million increase. MAP is used by the horse industry to promote American horses to foreign markets.
Additionally, while no horse slaughter facilities are currently operating in the U.S., the budget request proposes Congress reinstate a prohibition on USDA funding inspections at horse slaughter facilities, which would prevent any such facility from operating in the U.S. For several years beginning in 2005 Congress barred USDA from funding inspections at horse slaughter facilities. However, in 2011 the prohibition on funding for USDA inspections was lifted.
The President’s FY 2014 Budget proposal will now be submitted to the House and Senate Budget Committees and go through the full Congressional appropriations process.