Animals Scored Significant Victories With the 2018 Farm Bill
By Sara Amundson
It is no secret that moving legislation over the finish line in Washington, DC, has not been easy of late. However, members of Congress did come together to pass the 2018 Farm Bill—a massive public-spending package that funds agriculture, conservation and food policy. It was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 20, 2018, just two days before the government shutdown began. While Big Agriculture with its factory farming model is not too kind as a general rule, the Farm Bill did right by animals in several important respects.
First and foremost, animal advocacy groups and concerned citizens successfully worked to remove an anti-animal provision that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) added to the House version of the bill. Of greatest concern to animal advocates was that Representative King's amendment would have nullified thousands of duly enacted laws concerning puppy mills, horse slaughter for human consumption and extreme confinement of farm animals. In its overreach, however, King's measure also threatened to undermine child labor laws and fire-safe cigarettes.
King repeats messages of "pro-states' rights" rhetoric, yet the legislation he introduces year after year threatens those very liberties. Recognizing that Americans care about the humane treatment of animals, Congress wisely opted to reject his dangerous amendment.
The Farm Bill also incorporated legislation addressing pet protection and domestic violence, and the inhumane practice of slaughtering dogs and cats for human consumption, among other things.
The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act will extend current federal domestic violence protections to pets and empower people trapped in domestic violence situations to leave abusive relationships. Currently, only 3 percent of domestic violence shelters provide pet accommodations, which can delay victims from leaving a dangerous environment. Pets can be a source of comfort and support, but tragically, abusers will frequently exploit the emotional bond between a victim and a pet to gain psychological control.
Congress also included elements of The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act in the Farm Bill. Around 30 million dogs and untold numbers of cats are victims of this brutal global industry every year, with animals often snatched off the street or stolen from loving families and subjected to unspeakable abuse only to end as someone's supper. In November, Humane Society International assisted government authorities in a shutdown of the largest dog slaughterhouse in South Korea. This bill will prevent this appalling practice from taking hold in the U.S., and strengthen the case for ending it worldwide.
There is much more to the Farm Bill, of course, and there are measures in it that give us pause. But in putting the King amendment out to pasture, and in taking up popular measures that had garnered tremendous bipartisan support, Congress has set a standard that we hope will continue in 2019. With the terrible threat of King's measure set aside, and these other priorities made law, Congress should advance a legislative agenda in 2019 that tackles other urgent challenges in humane work, based on the premise that any decent nation is good to the animals in its care.
Sara Amundson is the president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
By Kate Murphy
No matter the time of year, there's always a point in each season when my skin decides to cause me issues. While these skin issues can vary, I find the most common issues to be dryness, acne and redness.
David Woodfall / The Image Bank / Getty Images
By Sam Nickerson
Now, correspondence obtained by the LA Times revealed just how deeply involved industry lobbyists and a controversial, industry-funded toxicologist were in drafting the federal agency's proposal to scrap its current, protective approach to regulating toxin exposure.
February 22 is the birthday of conservationist and beloved TV personality "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who would have been 57 years old today.
Irwin's life was tragically cut short when the barb from a stingray went through his chest while he was filming in 2006, but his legacy of loving and protecting wildlife lives on, most recently in a Google Doodle today honoring his birthday.
By Dan Nosowitz
That video showed the extrusion of a bubblegum-pink substance oozing into a coiled pile, something between Play-Doh, sausage and soft-serve strawberry ice cream. Branded "pink slime"—the name came from an email sent by a USDA microbiologist in 2002—this stuff was actually beef, destined for supermarkets and fast-food burgers.
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges Billions to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged a quarter of $1 trillion budget over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.