An animal-rights led amendment by the Humane Society of the United States and Natural Resources Defense Council to cut funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services (WS) by $11 million was soundly rejected by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday with 287 members voting nay on the amendment and only 132 yea votes.
"It sends a strong message when fully two-thirds of the House rejects an amendment to reduce funding for WS," commented Peter Orwick, executive director for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).
Reps. John Campbell (Calif.) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) on Tuesday introduced an amendment to the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill to reduce funding of the WS program by $11 million.
Reps. Frank Lucas (Okla.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Agriculture Committee, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), vice chair of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, all took the floor and spoke out against the amendment citing the critical need to protect livestock, human health and safety as well as the importance of USDA's cooperative funding and management of wildlife damage conflicts nationwide. Lucas also penned a letter to Congress articulating strong arguments against the anti-livestock protection amendment.
Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike Simpson (Idaho) sent a compelling "Dear Colleague" letter to all members of Congress also encouraging them to vote against the Campbell-DeFazio amendment. They emphasized how any loss of funding that resulted in the reduction of trained WS personnel would have a direct impact on all functions of the agency.
ASI thanks Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee, for his leadership and tenacity in securing passage of the bill and defeating the amendment against WS. The vote on the final appropriations bill was close, 217-203, with all Democrats voting against the bill.
In addition to the dear colleague letter, ASI shared with the entire House a joint letter signed by 130 national and state organizations representing livestock, agriculture, sportsmen, including the National Rifle Association, and government, such as the National Association of Counties and National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, in opposition to attacks on funding for wildlife damage management.
"ASI appreciates all the organizations, both state and national, that worked on this successful effort to protect the federal arm of wildlife damage control," concluded Bob Benson (Ind.), sheep producer and chair of the ASI Legislative Action Council.
Orwick added that the roll of votes, dear colleague letters and joint industry letter are all posted to www.sheepusa.org as provided by the ASI Washington, D.C., representatives of Meyers and Associates.