American Horse Council Washington Update

Senate Approves FY 2012 USDA Funding Bill  - On November 1, 2011 the Senate approved its version of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2012 (H.R. 2112). This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 2012 fiscal year (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012) and contains several provisions of interest to the horse industry. The Senate bill would appropriate different levels of funding for various USDA programs compared to the version of this bill passed by the House bill on June 16, 2011.  More information on the House version of the bill can be found on the AHC website.

The Senate bill would set overall funding for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at $820.1 million. APHIS is the agency responsible for responding to equine disease outbreaks. This is approximately $36 million more than the House approved funding level of $783.4 million.

The Senate bill would provide $43 million less for APHIS than was appropriated in FY2011 and $12 million less than the President's FY2012 budget request. By comparison, the House bill was $80 million less than the FY2011 level and $49 million below the President's request for FY2012. However, the Senate bill would maintain funding for equine, cervid, and small ruminant health at $22 million in accordance with the President's request and the House bill.

The Senate bill would fund the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at $1.094 billion, approximately $107 million more than was included in the House bill. ARS is USDA's chief scientific research agency and has played a critical role in mitigating the health and economic impacts equine infectious diseases, such as Equine Piroplasmosis, have had on the horse industry.  

The Senate bill would cut funding for ARS by $38.6 million compared to FY2011 and is $43 million below the President's FY2012 budget request; however, the House bill would provide $145.6 million less in funding for ARS than in FY2011 and is $150 million below the President's FY2012 request.

The Senate would also provide $7 million for the new animal disease traceability system, which USDA published a proposed rule on in August 2011. You can view the more information on the new animal disease traceability program on the AHC website.