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Senate Takes First Step In Downed Animal Protection

by Charlotte LoBuono and Patricia Collier

The U.S. Senate has passed legislation to prohibit the USDA from funding the slaughter of downed farm animals for human consumption. Downed animals are considered to be cows, horses, pigs, and sheep that are too ill to stand or walk unassisted.

On November 5, the Senate passed Amendment 2088 to H.R. 2673, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2004.

The legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Akaka (D-HI), Cantwell (D-WA), Levin (D-MI), and Lieberman (D-CT).

When the House discussed the legislation, downed animal protection language was defeated by a 3-vote margin, so the bill will now be discussed in committee.

Representatives from Farm Sanctuary, a national, non profit organization that develops campaigns to end exploitation of animals raised for food said, "We are elated with the passage in the U.S. Senate, but this proposal now faces a challenging deliberation in the conference committee."

"NoDowners", Farm Sanctuary's campaign to support the downed animal bills, was designed to stand up for voiceless farm animals.

According to representatives working on the NoDowners campaign, "Downed animals are not protected from abuse under federal animal welfare laws and most state anti-cruelty laws.

These laws exclude 'normal agricultural operation' and so any act, no matter how cruel, is legal as long as it is considered 'business as usual.'"

The current legislation sits apart from the Downed Animal Protection Act, which has not yet been up for a vote on the floor of either the House or the Senate.

According to Farm Sanctuary, both bills can work to prevent downed farm animals from mistreatment.

While Amendment 2088 primarily addresses the fiscal aspect of downed animals by disallowing the USDA to fund the slaughter of downed animals for human food, the Downed Animal Protection Act, H.R. 2519 and S. 1298, will require critically ill or injured farm animals to be humanely euthanized and not slaughtered for food.

2003 Animal News Center, Inc.

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