What You See Is Not What You Get!
ON JULY 25, 2000, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES passed the annual Miscellaneous Tariff legislation. Included within the more than 150 sections of that bill is a substantially scaled-down version of the “dog and cat” legislation introduced by Congressman Klecza (D-WI) and Senator Roth (R-DE) and promoted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). As a result of comments submitted by FCUSA, the House Ways and Means Committee struck from the bill virtually every troublesome provision. The resulting legislation, if it ultimately clears the Senate and is signed by the President, will require Customs to issue regulations within 180 days after passage. Such regulations would be subject to a regular notice and comment period before formal adoption.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the original federal bill, the content of the comments filed by FCUSA, and the final bill as passed by the House.
As this federal bill and others like it at the state level move through the process, they must be scrutinized and referred to the appropriate committees with jurisdiction over commerce, as well as those committees with jurisdiction over the judicial systems.
Unlike HSUS, FCUSA does not have an army of lobbyists to call on. Farmers should contact local trapping organizations, retailers and local Farm Bureaus and alert them to the threats posed by bills which, if taken at face value, appear to be providing protection for kittens and puppies, but which have as their goal the prevention of legitimate trade in fur products. In August, your state representatives and congressmen will be home in your district, so tell them of your concerns. Remember: with HSUS, what you see is seldom what you get!
|Key Provisions of HR 1622||FCUSA Comments||Key Provisions of Ways and Means Committee Bill|
|Prohibition on the importation and sale of any domestic dog/cat fur product.||—–||Prohibition on importation and sale of any domestic dog/cat fur product.|
|Eliminates FTC’s discretion to exempt from labeling scheme articles containing small quantity of fur.||FTC labeling scheme should be retained as is.||Retains FTC labeling scheme. Maintains “small quantity” exemption.|
|Authorizes Secretary of Treasury (Customs) to conduct enforcement activities in conjunction with States, political subdivisions and other interested parties.||Enforcement should be conducted by Secretary of Treasury under the Customs laws.||Enforcement is conducted by the Secretary of Treasury under the Customs laws.|
|Authorizes inspections by any duly-authorized officer upon the request of any interested party.||Inspection should be carried out in accordance with the Customs laws.||Inspection provision stricken.|
|Authorizes seizure and arrest by a duly-authorized officer if there is a reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred.||Seizure should be carried out in accordance with the Customs laws.||Seizure and Arrest provision stricken.|
|Burden of proof should lie with the owner of record to prove item seized is not domestic dog/cat fur product.||Issues of proof should be carried out in accordance with the Customs laws.||Burden of Proof provision stricken.|
|US Attorney authorized to seek prosecution for suspected violations.||Customs civil penalty regime is adequate.||US Attorney provision stricken.|
|Citizens suits may be brought to compel the Secretary of Treasury to enforce the provision.||Customs civil penalty regime is adequate.||Citizen Suit provision stricken.|
|Reward may be paid to any person who furnishes information leading to arrest, conviction or penalty assessment.||Customs civil penalty regime is adequate.||Reward provision stricken.|
|Secretary of Treasury shall charge reasonable fees for inspections||Fees are burdensome.||Fee provision stricken.|
|Civil Penalties not more than $25,000 per violation.||Penalties should be handled under Customs penalty regime.||Civil Penalties of not more than $5,000 per violation; otherwise penalties are to be assessed in accordance with normal customs penalty procedures that take into account the severity of the violation; the level of culpability of the violator; and the degree of cooperation with Customs|
|Imprisonment for not more than one year for intentional (criminal) violation of the provision.||Criminal penalties are not warranted. Intentional violations can be addressed under the Customs penalty regime.||Criminal Penalties provision stricken.|
|Any dog or cat fur product seized is subject to forfeiture.||Customs law forfeiture provisions should be applied.||Forfeiture provision stricken.|
|Any person who violates any provision of the law can be enjoined from any further sales of fur products.||Injunction provision is unwarranted, unfair and will not withstand judicial scrutiny.||Injunction provision stricken.|
|—–||Distinguishing target species from legitimate trade in fur products is often difficult using DNA evidence extracted from dressed fur products. Customs officials must be prepared and have resources to address these issues such that legitimate trade in fur products is not impeded.||Customs will report to Congress in three months with a plan for the enforcement of the law including training and procedures to ensure Customs personnel are equipped with state-of-the art technology to identify target products. Customs will report to Congress in one year on the adequacy of its resources and analysis of its training.|
Based on information provided by the law firm Collier Shannon Scott, PLLC of Washington, DC.
“Fur Free 2000” Background
The HSUS is the largest animal rights organization in the US (assets $90 million, budget $56 million). Continuously confused with the humane societies around the country that house stray pets, this Washington, DC-based organization is not affiliated with a single shelter. Donations sent to HSUS do not help house strays in your community. Instead, HSUS builds direct mail campaigns around animal issues, infusing a tiny bit of reality with a lot of emotional rhetoric.
In pushing its “Fur Free 2000” campaign, HSUS enlists our concern about stray dogs and cats in a thinly veiled attempt to eliminate real fur and replace it with synthetics or fake fur which HSUS promotes under the “Evolutionary Fur” label.
HSUS bills this as a “consumer protection” campaign, focusing on methods used to control feral dog and cat populations in parts of Asia. Although not a single consumer group has joined the campaign, HSUS has introduced poorly worded legislation in about ten states and at the federal level.
Each proposed bill has required rewriting to include simple definitions of “dog” and “cat”, limiting the legislation to domestic dogs and cats. This acknowledges that the legitimate fur trade encompasses clothing made from a variety of canines and felines such as foxes, wolves, bobcats, lynx, etc.
At the federal level, the legislation was rewritten when sections of the proposed bill were designed to attack legitimate importers of fur products, barring them from the fur trade forever if one feral cat pelt was found in a shipment!