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Farm Bill Could Impact Walking Horses



While indecision and controversy still exist for the GOP’s Farm Bill, the legislation could hit the house floor this week for a vote.  The main areas of concern lie with the sugar support program and work requirements for food stamps.  The GOP is currently shy of the necessary votes but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway is confident the republicans will get the necessary votes.

 

Last week marked the deadline for amendments to be submitted for inclusion on the Farm Bill and Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Tom Marino (R-PA) submitted an amendment that would force the Secretary of Agriculture to submit for publication in the Federal Register the final rule that would see the abolishment of the current HIO system and eliminate the use of pads and chains on show horses in the Tennessee Walking Horse and Racking Horse industries.  The rule was previously awaiting its final publication in the Federal Register when President Donald Trump signed an executive order eliminating any pending rules from the Obama administration from being published until they were able to review them further.

 

The move by Cohen and Marino is another attempt by the Humane Society of the United States to eliminate the show horse from competition.  The HSUS has been unable to get the PAST Act out of committee and has tried rulemaking and now this amendment to force the rulemaking process to get around the proper protocol and enact their controversial piece of legislation.

 

It is unclear at this point if the proposed amendment will be allowed to be included or not and that process should conclude in the coming days.  Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) also included an amendment to the Farm Bill that is the text from the industry’s proposed Senate bill introduced by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would include an independent HIO with non-conflicted inspectors, objective, science-based inspection methods and harsh penalties for those that violate the rules.  Just like the amendment from Cohen and Marino, it is unclear if the House Agriculture Committee will allow DesJarlais’ proposed amendment to stay a part of the House Farm Bill.

 

It is unclear what support, if any, the Farm Bill would lose from republicans in Tennessee and Kentucky if the amendment from Cohen and Marino were included but with every vote needed each vote lost would be harmful to the GOPs efforts to pass a Farm Bill in the House of Representatives.  The same scenario that is playing out in the House of Representatives will also take place in the Senate when they introduce the Senate version of the Farm Bill.  

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