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FY 2012 USDA Funding Bill
On November 18, 2011 the President signed the FY 2012 USDA appropriations bill (H.R. 2112) this bill provides funding for the USDA for the 2012 fiscal year (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012) and contains several provisions of interest to the horse industry.
The bill also included a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funded other government activities through December 16, 2011 and contained a provision concerning a new H-2B temporary worker program wage rule opposed by the AHC.
The U.S. horse industry involves activities in all regions of the country and the world and is dependent on its ability to move horses frequently and easily interstate and internationally. Horses move constantly for breeding, sale, racing, showing, work or recreation. An infectious equine disease outbreak can restrict or halt that movement. Any loss or restriction of this mobility has a serious economic impact on the horse community and industry.
Unfortunately, there have been several disease outbreaks in recent years that have had a significant negative impact on the health of the U.S. horse population and the economic viability of the industry. Some of these outbreaks have resulted in extensive intrastate, interstate, and international movement restrictions, forced quarantines, and numerous horse event cancellations.
In 2008, an outbreak of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) in Kentucky required the testing and tracing of over 1,000 horses in 48 states (testing and treatment ranged from $1,500 to $5,000 per horse). This outbreak was not officially concluded until April 2011.
In 2009, Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) was identified in Texas. Over 3,000 horses have been tested for EP as part of the emergency response and control with over 400 positive horses disclosed in connection with the outbreak. The epidemiological investigation remains on-going, and U.S. horses are still subjected to enhanced movement restrictions.
Most recently, an on-going Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1) outbreak began during a national horse event in Ogden, Utah in May 2011. Following confirmation of EHV-1 transmission, the AHC and others requested federal coordination for emergency response efforts among state and federal veterinarians in order to protect the health of horses and mitigate the economic implications of further EHV-1 transmission. USDA and state animal health officials have responded quickly and contacted the owners of potentially exposed horses. Standardized recommendations were developed by state and federal officials and are being followed to isolate exposed horses, monitor them for clinical signs of EHV-1, and work with private veterinary practitioners to test and treat horses affected with the disease. Biosecurity procedures and disease mitigation strategies are on-going in a continued effort to mitigate further disease spread. Even with this expedited and coordinated comprehensive response, as of June 1, 2011, there have been 84 confirmed cases in 10 different states with 12 mortalities, thus far.
Equine Disease Control and Eradication
Earlier this year the AHC requested the House Appropriation Committee make combating contagious equine disease a priority in this USDA appropriations bill. The committee responded by including language in its committee report accompanying the House version of the bill that highlights the threat of contagious equine disease to the horse industry and directs USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to make responding to such outbreaks a priority. The final Conference Committee Report retained the following language from the House report:
The Committee is aware of equine disease outbreaks that have occurred with increased frequency over the last several years. These outbreaks threaten the health and welfare of U.S. horses and the economic viability of the $102 billion horse industry. APHIS is encouraged to quickly respond to such threats through the use of its authorities. APHIS is directed to report to the Committee by July 1, 2011, on the estimated funds allocated for equine disease in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, as well as the range and degree of equine diseases currently existing within the U.S
The language was included through the efforts of Congressmen Hal Rogers (R-KY), the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Jack Kingston (R-GA), Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, and Tom Latham (R-IA), a member of the Subcommittee. The AHC very much appreciates their support.
USDA Inspection at Plants
The bill does not include a prohibition on funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse processing facilities. A prohibition on funding for USDA inspection has been in place since 2005 and essentially barred any facility from operating in the U.S. With the prohibition on funding removed horses processing facilities could resume operation in the U.S.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
The bill sets overall funding for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at $816.5 million. APHIS is the agency responsible for responding to equine disease outbreaks. This is $47 million less for APHIS than was appropriated in FY2011 and $ 20.5 million less than the President’s FY2012 budget request.
The bill sets funding for equine, cervid, and small ruminant health at $22 million in accordance with the President’s request.
Agricultural Research Service
The bill funds the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at $1.0946 billion. 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 $38.6 million less than FY2011 and is $43 million below the President’s FY2012 budget request.
Horse Protection Act
The bill provides $696,000 for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, an increase of $196,000 from FY2011. This increase was supported by the AHC.
Animal Disease Traceability System
The bill also provides $7 million for the new Animal Disease Traceability System (ADTS). USDA proposed a new rule outlining ADTS in August 2011. The AHC’s explanation on how the new ADTS program would affect the horse industry is at http://www.horsecouncil.org/regulations/usda-proposes-new-animal-disease-traceability-rule
H-2B Wage Rule
The bill prohibits the Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing a new wage rule for the H-2B program prior to January 1, 2012. The wage rule was scheduled to go into effect on November 30, 2012.
The wage rule, in most instances, will increase the hourly wage that must be paid to all currently employed H-2B workers and American workers recruited in connection with an H-2B job application and is opposed by the AHC. More information on the wage rule can be found at: http://www.horsecouncil.org/regulations/department-labor-moves-effective-date-h-2b-wage-rule and http://www.horsecouncil.org/regulations/dol-delays-new-h-2b-wage-rule-60-days
This bill has been signed in to law by President Obama.
The AHC supported the report language regarding equine disease. The AHC supported the Presidents FY 2012 budget request of million $837.418 million for APHIS and $1.138 billion for ARS.