By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division
While a flurry of activities on the Farm Bill has had agricultural interest groups’ attention for the past few weeks, AVMA has been working diligently on ensuring that some priorities for animal health and welfare are addressed.
One important provision that AVMA wants to see pass in the Farm Bill this year will prohibit spectators from attending animal fighting venues. The language is similar to the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act (H.R. 366/S. 666), which AVMA actively supported in the 112th Congress. The current bill would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit people from knowingly attending animal fights or causing minors to attend animal fights. It would also impose stronger criminal and civil penalties on violators.
Animal fighting has severe consequences for the animals involved, often with serious injuries and/or death as a result. Though most states have recently adopted stricter laws that address animal fighting, enforcement has been a challenge, proving the need for a combined federal and state effort to be most effective. By targeting not only those who participate in the events, but also those who frequent them, the bill will help to put animal fighting organizers out of business.
The Senate version of the Farm Bill included the animal fighting provision when it was introduced in Congress, but the House version of the bill did not. During the House Committee on Agriculture’s consideration of the bill, U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced an amendment that was accepted by the committee. AVMA sent a letter to the committee members prior to their mark-up of the Farm Bill, encouraging them to support the amendment.