The Farm Bill that passed the Senate on Dec. 14 includes several key provisions to benefit the horse industry, according to the American Horse Council. Horse owners involved in production agriculture would be eligible for additional federal programs administered by USDA in the aftermath of a natural disaster under specific provisions of the bill. The first provision would make horse breeders eligible for federal emergency loans for the first time by including "equine farmers and ranchers" within the class of eligible producers. A second provision would institute a permanent disaster relief fund that would provide payments to farmers and ranchers who suffer losses in areas that are declared disaster areas by USDA. This provision specifically includes horses within the definition of livestock eligible for the program.

The House version of the Farm Bill, passed last summer, doesn't include the provisions described above and is quite different from the Senate bill in a number of other respects. A House-Senate conference committee will try to work out the differences when Congress reconvenes in January.

Visit the American Horse Council Web site at www.horsecouncil.org.