Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm Federal Advocates, Inc. has signed lobbying pacts with national pet retailer Petland, Inc., as well as pet trade organization Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, as the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees finalize their work on the 2018 Farm Bill.
The omnibus bill, which is traditionally passed by Congress every five years, authorizes federal agriculture and nutrition policy under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The House’s current reauthorization of the bill also includes several provisions protecting domestic animals, such as an amendment successfully passed by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) that would alter the Animal Welfare Act and ban the killing of dogs or cats in the U.S. for human consumption, a practice already banned in New York, California and New Jersey.
However, an amendment introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) would override states’ current ability to set their own individual animal protection standards, potentially upending a number of current state animal-related laws, for example, bans on crowded battery cages or California’s current ban on the sale of foie gras, or several states’ longtime prohibitions on the sale or possession of shark fins.
Animal rights nonprofits such as the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States are concerned that King’s amendment would effectively override anti-puppy-mill ordinances currently on the books in several states, like the one recently signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown, which goes into effect in January 2019 and will prohibit pet stores from selling non-rescue, non-shelter dogs, cats or rabbits.
The U.S. House Agriculture Committee approved its amended version of the bill in late April.
PIJAC last year unsuccessfully petitioned Brown to veto the anti-puppy-mill law. The pet trade group in January also fought Hawaii's State Senate to stop a bill that would ban "ornamental" saltwater fishing, which they said would put Hawaii fishery workers out of jobs.
Chillicothe, OH-based Petland, which operates approx. 150 stores in the U.S., was subject to a Humane Society investigation last year in which the advocacy group alleged that the retailer, despite claims that it buys puppies only from reputable breeders or animal welfare organizations, actually receives some of its dogs from puppy mills with poor or unknown standards of care.
Both the Petland and PIJAC accounts will be managed by Federal Advocates founder Michael Esposito, along with Michael Stroud, who was formerly Congressional Relations Officer for the U.S. International Trade Commission and an Acting Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector Office at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.