Rats, mice, birds, dogs and bears all lose in weakened U.S. Farm Bill
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2002:
WASHINGTON D.C.–U.S. President George W. Bush on May 13
signed a Farm Bill that The New York Times editorially called “a
regrettable reversion to some of the worst polices of the past.”
The New York Times referred in specific to “a $50 billion
increase in subsidies to big producers of row crops such as feed corn
over the next 10 years–a 50% jump over present levels and a complete
reversal of promising attempts to wean farmers off all subsidies.”
The chief effect of the higher row crop subsidies will be to continue
artificially suppressing the cost of feeding poultry, hogs, and
cattle in intensive confinement.
The New York Times analysis might equally well have applied
to the last-minute inclusion in the Farm Bill of an amendment by
Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) which makes permanent the exclusion of
rats, mice, and birds–more than 90% of all animals used in U.S.
laboratories–from the definition of “animal” used in the enforcement
regulations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Never discussed in
either the Senate or the House, the Helms amendment was included in
the final draft of the Farm Bill by the joint House/Senate bill
About 30 million rats and mice are bred for lab use in the
U.S. each year, says the National Association for Biomedical
Research, which sought the Helms amendment. About 170 million rats
and mice, NABR claims, are fed to pet reptiles.
The USDA excluded rats, mice, and birds from the Animal
Welfare Act enforcement regulations in 1970. After many previous
efforts failed, an American Anti-Vivisection Society subsidiary
called the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation won
judicial rulings that in October 2000 caused the USDA to agree to
rewrite the regulations to protect rats, mice, and birds. But
Congressional budget actions repeatedly delayed any actual rewriting.
Among four pro-animal bills incorporated into the separate
House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, only a stronger edition
of a 1976 ban on interstate transportation of fighting cocks survived
the bill reconciliation process. Cockfighting has persisted in many
of the 47 states where it is illegal because cock breeders claim to
be raising birds for sale to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico,
which still permit cockfights.
“They want to try to refine us, but America was built on
coarseness. That’s the glue that holds America together,” protested
cockfighter Paul Hulin, 60, of New Iberia, Louisiana, in remarks
to Associated Press.
A proposed federal “downer” bill was cut back to require only
a study into the problems associated with non-ambulatory livestock
arriving at slaughterhouses. Language attempting to strengthen
regulation of puppy mills and prohibit the export of bear parts was
excised from the Farm Bill entirely, by demand of dog breeders and