Federal Legislation Updates
The long-awaited Farm Bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), HR 2, is a victory for animals! It came out of conference committee on December 10, 2018. On December 11, the Senate approved the bill and on December 12, the House also approved the revised language, clearing the way for it to be sent to the President.
The best outcomes for all animal provisions were adopted in the final language approved by the conference committee, with the infamous King Amendment omitted from the final version. The King Amendment would have invalidated or rendered ineffective all state efforts to incorporate more humane farming practices in those states.
As the final document is 807 pages, the section numbers for animal-friendly provisions are provided:
- Sec. 12502. The language of the “Pets and Women Protection Act” was adopted as “Protecting Animals with Shelter.” These provisions expand on the scope of interstate orders of protection to include companion animals. This section also establishes funding for a $3 million grant program for facilities providing emergency and transitional housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets.
- Sec. 12515. Prohibits the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption, including a prohibition on knowingly transporting, possessing, purchasing and selling a dog or cat to be used for human food in interstate or foreign commerce.
- Sec. 12616 Extends prohibitions against animal fights that are already subject to criminal penalties in all 50 states to U.S. territories: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This year’s Farm Bill is well worth celebrating.
While the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act, S 498 and HR 1243, which would phase out the use of animals for combat trauma injury training exercises and for chemical and biological casualty training by 2022, did not pass, there was progress made in this arena. The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, HR 5515, which was signed into law on August 13, 2018, contains a provision requiring the armed services to use medical-simulation technology in trauma-skills training “to the maximum extent practicable” before resorting to harming animals in the deadly drills. Moreover, only a medical officer can approve the use of animals, rather than having that decision made by nonmedical personnel on individual bases. This is a huge step in accomplishing the goals of the BEST Practices Act.
The Humane Cosmetics Act, HR 2790, which would require private and governmental entities to end their use of animals to test for the safety of cosmetics within a year and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics within three years, also did not pass this session, even with the push of 186 cosponsors. Rep. Martha McSally, the lead sponsor of this bill, will be joining the Senate in 2019, but alternative sponsors have already been enlisted to reintroduce the bill in the House next year. In addition, a new bill introduced this year, the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act, would accomplish most of the goals of the Humane Cosmetics Act and is likely to be reintroduced in 2019.
What can you do to help? You can tell your legislators—state and federal—where you stand on new legislation by calling and sending messages through the NAVS Advocacy Center. Spread the word to everyone you know who cares for animals. We can make a difference, if we speak up and make our voices heard!
We wish all our readers a joyous holiday season and a wonderful New Year. NAVS’ Take Action Thursday will return on Thursday, January 3 with more news and advocacy for the next legislative year.