July 10, 2009
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved its $123.8 billion fiscal year 2010 agriculture appropriations bill by a vote of 266 to 160.
The House deliberation on the fiscal 2010 appropriations for agriculture made it essential for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) to address two amendments, both harmful to sheep producers. The first, as expected, was an animal rights-sponsored prohibition on the use of the M-44 coyote control device, even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Obama Administration, ruled in January and again in February that M-44s are safe, effective, necessary and that the Food and Drug Administration would continue to register its use by Wildlife Services (WS). ASI and fellow livestock industry associations worked with congressional leaders resulting in a decision late on July 8 by the House Rules Committee that the amendment sponsored by Rep. DeFazio (Ore.) was not in order and would not to be considered.
ASI had prepared for an attack on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's WS and made available information for congressional offices and leaders including five joint letters from industry and cooperators to federal leaders in support of predator control.
The materials can be used by producers to educate their congressional offices. They are available by clicking on the growling coyote link at www.sheepusa.org
A second amendment, filed among the 89 total amendments, to affect the sheep industry was a prohibition on wool marketing loans or deficiency payments sponsored by Rep. Weiner (N.Y.). Fortunately, like the animal rights amendment, it too failed to be included in the 14 amendments that were voted on by the full House. ASI soundly defeated this same basic amendment in 2000 and again in 2001.
"Given the efforts of anti meat and anti livestock activists in this country and the apparent need of some to continue to revisit sheep programs, July was proof that there is a need for a strong ASI and state association legislative effort to watch for and deal with attacks on the industry in the federal arena," commented Peter Orwick, ASI executive director.
On the U.S. Senate side, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $124.5 billion, fiscal year 2010 agriculture appropriations bill Tuesday. The bill passed 30-0 on a roll call vote.
Several of the sheep priorities that the ASI has been able to follow in the Senate version of the bill include $17.9 million for the scrapie eradication program; WS operations would receive $76.3 million, up $240,000 from last year; and WS research and methods development would be funded at $18.63 million versus $18 million in 2009.
Language in the legislation states it understands that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently evaluating a theobromine and caffeine mixture as a possible tool for predation management and encourages APHIS to continue evaluating this method, conduct field studies and take the appropriate steps to register these compounds with the EPA.
The Senate bill also recognizes that bighorn sheep disease is a major issue for domestic sheep producers in the West. Potential disease transmission arising from interactions between wild and domestic sheep poses significant challenges with considerable economic impact. The committee requests that the Agricultural Research Service provide them with a report and a research proposal to develop methods to control infectious diseases at the domestic animal-wildlife interface with a specific focus on bighorn sheep health.
The next step will be to introduce the bill to the full Senate.
Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33