President Signs Fiscal Year 2018 Spending Bill
March 23, 2018
The Omnibus appropriations bill for the current fiscal year was signed by President Donald J. Trump today, March 23. While the President made it clear he opposed the increased spending in the bill, it contained a number of priorities for the U.S. sheep industry.
Important highlights for sheep industry leaders include retention of the language directing the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to rely on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service for the best scientific information on pathogen transmission and risk of contact before making management decisions that impact domestic sheep permittees.
The bill also states that Congress does not accept the termination or closure of research stations proposed by the administration, which includes the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho. In fact, appropriations are increased for rangeland research, which is a primary focus for the station.
Additionally, Wildlife Services operations have been increased for FY18, as is the Small Ruminant line item of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is critical for the Scrapie Eradication Program. Producers will recall that the American Sheep Industry Association has had to fight to keep any ID tags available at no charge to producers this year, due to administration claims of budget shortages.
Key new provisions in appropriations include a permanent fix exempting farms and ranches from the provisions of superfund reporting mandates for air emissions from animal waste. Abbreviated as CERCLA in ASI correspondence, the association thanks Congress for taking action that will exempt thousands of livestock producers from this costly and unintended reporting requirement.
Another provision in the omnibus appropriations bill will give livestock haulers relief during this fiscal year from the Electronic Logging Mandate under the Department of Transportation’s final rule. Additional time is required to ensure there is no interruption of service while the industry and the department continue to work to ensure definitions provide livestock haulers the necessary exemptions passed by Congress to provide for animal welfare and safety.