Sunday, November 3, 2013

Legislation Briefs November 3, 2013

SAOVA Friends,

The final pet seller rule goes into effect on November 18, 2013. This rule would extend APHIS authority to include large segments of the retail pet trade as regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including pet species as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters, among others. The overarching intent of the revision is to regulate sight unseen retail pet sales, which, without proof, APHIS claims have dramatically increased as a result of growing Internet usage.   APHIS also claims the rule closes a so-called “Internet loophole” and restores the original intent of Congress for administration of the AWA.

We have always believed the issue of how Congress intended the AWA to be enforced was decided by the Circuit Court in Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) v. Ann M. Veneman (Secretary, USDA). We agree with the Court’s decision and do not think that several decades ago, Congress ever meant USDA to enforce the AWA inside people’s homes.  However, now that the current APHIS administration has elected to make a determination granting themselves additional authority of such magnitude, we believe Congress is obligated to review this issue, and should do so as quickly as possible.  

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Thanks for reading.  Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

USDA Animal Care will host a series of Retail Pet Store Rule webinars in November and December. Webinars will be held Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST for a four-week period.  The schedule of topics for the webinars is as follows:
November 7 – Am I regulated under USDA’s Retail Pet Store Rule
November 14 – How will USDA implement the Retail Pet Store Rule  
November 21 – What is USDA’s inspection process in a home
December 5 – How will USDA enforce the Retail Pet Store Rule

Docket ID: FDA-2006-P-0338. September 22, 2013 FDA posted Denial of petition to revise requirements
Compassion Over Killing and Animal Legal Defense Fund and Penn Law Animal Law Project Petition, University of PA Law School, filed a citizens petition September 21, 2010 requesting new labeling of shell eggs sold in the U.S.  Petitioners claim that current labeling fails to reveal to consumers certain material facts that substantially influence their purchasing decisions.  Petitioners further requested that FDA require shell eggs to bear one of three labels: Free Range Eggs, Cage Free Eggs, Eggs From Caged Hens and provided descriptions of production conditions that would be associated with each term.

The agency states in its decision summary, “After careful review of your citizen petition and for the reasons described below, FDA is denying your citizen petition in accordance with 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 10.30(e)(3) because you do not provide a sufficient basis for the agency to revise the current labeling requirements for shell eggs. Specifically, you have not provided evidence sufficient to show that eggs from caged hens are “nutritionally inferior” to eggs from free-range and cage-free hens. Therefore, nutritional properties cannot provide a basis to consider the method of production for eggs to be a material fact.  Moreover, nutritional information regarding particular eggs is conveyed to consumers directly by placing the particular nutrient information on the label, not by identifying the method of production, which does not provide consumers with information as to nutritive content. Second, you have not provided sufficient evidence to show that eggs from caged hens have a greater risk of Salmonella contamination than eggs from the other two production methods you define; consequently, the risk of Salmonella cannot provide a basis to consider the method of production for eggs to be a material fact.  Finally, even assuming the method of egg production may be of interest to some consumers, consumer interest alone is not a material fact. Therefore, FDA is not compelled under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“the Act”) or it’s implementing regulations to require such labeling under the law. Finally, even if the agency could require such labeling, it would choose to use its limited resources on rulemakings of higher priority, such as those that are of greatest public health significance or are statutorily-mandated.

Docket No. APHIS-2012-0107. In August 2013, HSUS, World Wildlife Fund, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Big Cat Rescue, and others petitioned APHIS to amend sections of the AWA. Petitioners requested regulation changes in part 2.131 to explicitly prohibit licensed exhibitors from allowing persons, with some exceptions, from coming into direct physical contact with any big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age. The petition states that the current handling regulations in 9 CFR part 2 allow licensees the opportunity to engage in animal exhibition practices via interactive public contact sessions and photographic opportunities, and that these activities not only place these animals at risk of harm but threaten public safety.  Petitioners also suggested revisions to 9 CFR part 3 to ensure that the sections containing specific standards for the handling of nonhuman primates are consistent with the regulatory changes they propose in § 2.131.  Nonhuman primates include lemurs which are a popular exhibit at many petting zoos.

APHIS issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) requesting comments on conditions where public contact could be allowed; whether exhibitors and dealers should be required to keep additional records and identify their animals with microchips or retinal scans, etc.  The comment period has been extended to November 18, 2013.  Comment at Federal Register:
The majority of comments at this time are form letters from the HSUS website supporting a rule.

Judge’s Ruling Favors USDA Providing Horse Slaughter Inspections by Dan Flynn, November 1, 2013
USDA is not required to conduct an Environmental impact Statement or Environmental Assessment in order to grant equine inspection services to businesses planning to pack horsemeat for export, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Armijo ruled Friday. The judge denied the request by animal groups for a permanent injunction and dismissed the case challenging USDA’s authority.  The decision is a massive loss for the Humane Society of the U.S., which largely funded the lawsuit and enlisted 15 other groups and individuals to join it as plaintiffs.

And it was a defining victory for the Department of Justice attorneys who re-affirmed USDA powers contained in the Federal Meat Inspection Act that go back more than 100 years.   It means horse slaughter for human consumption could resume shortly under USDA inspection for the first time since 2006. “Valley Meat Company, LLC and Rains Natural Meats are both very pleased with the decision of Judge Armijo, said Albuquerque  attorney A. Blair Dunn.  “This is a very well-reasoned and thorough opinion.  Valley and Rains are very grateful for the hard work and thought that Judge Armijo put into this decision.  Both companies will now focus on final preparations to open and begin work.”  Full story at link:

For Immediate Release. November 1, 2013 (Washington, DC). In an effort to exempt vital sportsmen trust funds from budget sequestration, the bipartisan Senate leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) sent a letter to Sylvia Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requesting that the $50 million sequestered from the Wildlife Restoration, Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Funds in 2013 be returned to the states.

In bipartisan fashion, CSC Senate Co-Chairs, Kay Hagan and John Thune, and Senate Vice-Chairs, Mark Pryor and James Risch, signed on to the letter, requesting the OMB release the sequestered sportsmen trust funds that are derived from excise taxes levied on guns and ammunition; fishing tackle and equipment; motorboat fuel; and bows and arrows. The trust funds are the foundation of the unique American System of Conservation Funding, a "user pays-public benefits" program. This user-pays funding strategy has produced numerous public benefits including: abundant fish and wildlife populations, access to public lands and clean waters, improved fish and wildlife habitat, improved soil and water conservation, shooting ranges, and boating access facilities.

Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) praised the Senate CSC leadership for their continued bipartisan support. "We salute the bipartisan leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus for once again standing up in support of hunters and anglers. These dedicated trust funds form the financial backbone of the most successful conservation story in history, and to release them back to the state wildlife agencies where they belong is simply the right thing to do."

"North Carolina and states across the country depend on this funding to restore and manage fisheries and wildlife habitats, open and maintain recreational access, and provide hunting and boating safety education. Moreover, applying sequestration to the trust funds represents a breach in trust between sportsmen and women and industries that pay an excise tax to specifically fund projects that enhance outdoor recreation activities and opportunities," Senator Hagan stated.

By withholding $50 million from Wildlife Restoration, Sport Fish Restoration, and Boating Safety programs, the Budget Control Act of 2011 will adversely affect states' ability to manage their fish and wildlife resources; open and maintain recreational access; and deliver hunter and boating safety education.

In the letter, CSC leadership noted that in implementing sequestration, OMB is required to follow rules outlined in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. The act provides that budgetary resources sequestered in trust fund accounts in a fiscal year "shall be available in subsequent years to the extent otherwise provided in law."

In March, CSF, along with 44 organizations representing millions of hunters, anglers and other conservationists, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting assistance in exempting the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Funds from the Budget Sequestration Act of 2011.
CONTACT: Cole Henry

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