Senate Committee Approves USDA Appropriations Bill

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On May 22, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill (S.2389). This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2015 fiscal year (October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015). The bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including funding for USDA equine health activities, enforcement of the Horse Protection Act and a provision that would prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities.

FY 2015 USDA Appropriations

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Equine Health

The bill would provide $872.4 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the USDA agency responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, including responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks. Funding for Equine, Cervid and Small Rumiant health would be set at $19.6 million, an $117,000 increase over FY 2014.

Horse Slaughter

Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered an amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities that passed by an 18-12 vote. Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) spoke in opposition to the amendment. Such a prohibition would prevent horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S. There is currently a prohibition on funding for inspectors at such facilities that expires on September 30, 2014.

For several years beginning in 2005 the USDA was prohibited from funding inspections at horse slaughter facilities. But, the FY 2012 USDA appropriations bill lifted that ban on funding and would have allowed horse processing to resume. However, no horse slaughter facilities opened or resumed operating before funding was again prohibited by the FY 2014 USDA appropriations bill.

Horse Protection Act

The bill provides $705,000 for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, an $8,000 increase over FY 2014.

The bill must now be approved by the full Senate.