“Train Wreck” “Fireworks” “Dogfight”

None of the above descriptions engender confidence as Congress returns from its August recess. Both Chambers have a full workload ahead of them to fund government programs before the end of the current fiscal year on September 30. Adding to the pressure is the reauthorization of the Farm Bill which comes due at the same time.

According to a report by FarmProgess, House Agriculture Committee Chair Thompson (R-PA-15) has indicated the current Farm Bill will likely be extended. “We’re going to need an extension just because the Senate is going to need to finish their work. Part of it is competition for floor time,” said Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, during his annual trip to Penn State’s Ag Progress Days.”

In addition to Thompson’s skepticism, according to published reports, House Agriculture Committee member Representative Kat Cammack (R- FL-3) observed, “This [Farm Bill] will be the biggest political dogfight in modern history.” Representative Cammack continued with the observation that 30 plus House members from either side of the aisle are expected to vote “no” on the Farm Bill and there is the likelihood of “potentially thousands of amendments on the House floor.”

AHC is contacting Committee members and staff to urge consideration of our budget and program submissions. Please monitor our newsletter and member communications for updates. Contact bshea@horsecouncil.org if you have questions or comments.

Note that programs and services associated with the Farm Bill will continue at current levels in the event an extension is adopted. If the Congress fails to adopt appropriation bills, the scenario is more problematic with the specter of a shut-down. House Speaker McCarthy is signally that he may offer a short-term spending measure to avoid disruption of government services.

Despite the doom and gloom of the upcoming fight over the Farm Bill and appropriation bills, Members continue to address and introduce measures of significance to the equine industry:

Senator John Thune (R-SD) introduced the State Executive Authority for Seasonal Occupations Needing Additional Labor (SEASONAL) Act, S. 2705. The measure would enable governors to petition the federal government for supplemental H-2B visas beyond the national cap of 66,000. Governors would have to certify that there is a persistent, unmet need for labor in their states and that supplemental H-2B visas will not displace domestic workers or negatively affect average wages in the state. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. It has three co-sponsors.

Preserving Family Farms Act, H.R. 4937 would help family-owned farms continue operations after a family member has passed by easing the burden of the estate tax. Introduced by Representative Panetta (D-CA-19), The Preserving Family Farms Act proposes to modernize the special use valuation provision of the estate tax by increasing the amount of farmland that can be valued for farming operations rather than development value. This would protect family-owned farmland by assessing estate taxes on the actual value of their businesses that they, in many cases, have spent decades cultivating. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Finally, a thank you to our members affiliated with Back Country Horsemen of America who advocated on behalf of all trail riders and packers to protect rider access on public trails. S. 873, A bill to improve recreation opportunities on, and facilitate greater access to Federal public land, and for other purposes was reported out of Committee with language to protect legacy horseback access on newly developed or identified long-distance biking trails: “Prior to any trail identification, the Secretaries are required to ensure that identification would not conflict with an existing use of a trail or road, including horseback riding. This section further requires the Secretaries to issue a report that lists the trails identified under this section.” Happy Trails!