Ag Approps Bill Passes House with Research Recommendations
April 22, 2016

The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill on April 19. The proposed legislation funds agricultural and food programs and services, including food and medical product safety, animal and plant health programs, rural development and farm services, marketplace oversight and nutrition programs.

In this bill, USDA's Agricultural Research Service was given instruction in some specific areas that impact the sheep industry.

Animal Research - The committee expects the department to keep them informed on the progress of implementing changes to policies and procedures at the Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb. The need for and value of animal research was recognized, but the committee demands that all animals be treated humanely and that the risk of premature death be limited wherever possible. No type of abuse or mistreatment will be tolerated.

Domestic and Bighorn Sheep - The challenges caused by infectious disease problems arising from wildlife and domestic animal agriculture interactions, particularly between domestic sheep and wild bighorn sheep, was recognized. The committee encouraged ARS to work to determine the role of domestic sheep in causing die-offs of bighorn sheep from respiratory disease and to develop methods to reduce transmission and enhance immunity.

U.S. Sheep Experiment Station - The committee recognized the unique and valuable contributions the USSES makes toward increasing the production efficiency of sheep and improving sustainable rangeland ecosystems. The committee also recognized a unique opportunity to expand other research initiatives. ARS was encouraged to work with various stakeholders regarding efforts to propose mission improvements for the USSES.

Other key sheep oriented programs at the Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service were funded with Equine, Cervid and Small Ruminant Health receiving $21 million. This includes scrapie eradication, Wildlife Damage Management ($100.376 million) and Wildlife Methods Development ($18.856 million).