House Passes Farm Bill

The House of Representatives passed the Agricultural Act of 2014 on January 29.

American Horse Council

The American Horse Council supports the reauthorization of the farm bill, which is beneficial to the equine industry.

On January 29, the United States House of Representatives passed a multi-year farm bill known as the Agricultural Act of 2014. The bill will set national agriculture policy and reauthorize many U.S. Department of Agriculture programs for the next five years.

The horse industry is not as dependent on programs authorized by the farm bill as other segments of American agriculture. However, several programs important to the horse industry are reauthorized by the bill, including livestock disaster programs, the Market Access Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.  

The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed by the president in the near future.

The bill will reauthorize and maintain current funding levels for the Market Access Program until 2018. MAP provides funding for overseas marketing and promotional activities to help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. The program is used by the horse industry to promote American horses to foreign markets.

The bill also reauthorizes the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers. Assistance includes help to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. EQIP also provides opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Horse farms and ranches are eligible for this program.

The Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Program and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, which expired in 2011, are also reauthorized by the new farm bill. These programs are administered by the USDA Farm Service Administration and compensate livestock producers, including horse breeding farms and ranches, for the loss of animals from natural disasters and diseases, and help producers who have lost grazing land from drought pay for feed.

The bill explicitly includes horses in the definition of livestock and ensures that horse farms and ranches are eligible for disaster programs that are open to other livestock producers.

Additionally, the manager's statement accompanying the bill recognized the importance of equine health and encouraged USDA to increase resources for equine health research in its annual budget request.

The American Horse Council supported reauthorization of these programs, which are beneficial to the horse industry and the manager's statement regarding equine health.

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