Animal-Friendly Farm Bill Survives Border Wars

The 115th Congress ended in chaos and rancor, with a large portion of the government shut down amidst a continuing battle over the border wall. Congress did manage to complete work on the 2018 farm bill, however, and the president signed it into law on December 20. This rarest of species—a bipartisan piece of legislation—included several provisions that benefit animals and left out proposed language that would have harmed them.

The new law incorporates the Pet and Women Safety Act, which will provide more resources for assisting domestic violence survivors and their companion animals in seeking shelter. It prohibits the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption in this country, and extends federal animal fighting prohibitions to US territories.

An infamous amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was dropped. This provision would have denied states the authority to set animal welfare standards within their own borders and forced them to allow sales of animals and animal products from states where standards are much lower. Also dropped from the bill were provisions that greatly weakened the Endangered Species Act, including one that would have reduced oversight for pesticide registration—a particular danger to pollinators.