Cockfighting ban included in final version of farm bill

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Animal Wellness Action has released live-animal shipping records from the Guam Department of Agriculture that the group claims show more than 500 illegal shipments of fighting birds to Guam from 2017 to 2019.

Washington, D.C. – Food stamp benefits to millions of American families may remain intact in the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill, but cockfighting may soon become illegal for Guam and other U.S. territories.

The landslide passage of the bipartisan 2018 farm bill with a vote of 386 to 47 may be a victory for Democrats as it rejects deep cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits to millions of Americans, including Guam.

House Republicans attempted to include strict work requirements that would have forced adult SNAP recipients to work in order to be eligible for SNAP assistance.

In a statement, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo lauded the removal of the SNAP work requirement, pointing out that it “would have kicked many beneficiaries off the program, including some Guam residents.”

But the final farm bill is hardly the victory for cockfighting on Guam. A salient provision in the bill bans cockfighting across the nation, including Guam and the U.S. territories.

The legislation removes existing exemptions in the Animal Welfare Act which governs the treatment of animals. The Animal Welfare Act bans all forms of animal fighting except for cockfighting in U.S. territories.

“Despite the progress made to protect assistance to families and children, it is unconscionable that this bill imposes a federal ban on cockfighting in the territories without the consent of our local governments or input from any of the territories’ representatives in Congress. Each of my colleagues from the territories and I strongly opposed this provision because it ignored the will of our constituents and established local laws in our jurisdictions,” Bordallo said in a statement.

The non-voting delegate, along with other territorial congressional representatives successfully defeated the proposed ban in the Senate version of the bill and offered a compromise with the House sponsor.

“However, our offers were not reciprocated,” she said, later adding, “It is disappointing that our views were not respected and this is another reason why Guam must resolve our political status and push for full voting representation in Congress.”

The farm bill now heads to the president’s desk for his signature. If approved, the cockfighting ban will become effective one year after it is enacted.