The 2013 Farm Bill (HR 2642)
UPDATE (February 5, 2014): The 2013 Farm Bill (HR 2642), which has been passed by Congress and is awaiting final approval by President Obama, contains several changes that impact the regulation of pet dealers under the USDA/APHIS Retail Pet Stores and Licensing Exemptions rule. This rule, which went into effect on November 18, 2013, remains in effect and has been further reaffirmed by codification (being passed into law) in HR 2642.
HR 2642 provides for two changes to the licensing requirements that may exempt small/hobby breeders who maintain more than four “breeding females” but do not transfer more than a “de minimis” (minimal) number of pets sight unseen. The conference report also directs APHIS to clarify the term “breeding female” to mean only those female animals capable of reproduction and actively being used in a breeding program should qualify as breeding females. This is significant because it includes only those animals currently part of an active breeder program, rather than a count of all intact females a person may own. It not only reduces the number of small/hobby breeders who may require licensing, it also helps breeders better understand if they may be required to seek licensing.
In each instance, USDA APHIS is directed to prepare specific regulations that further address these issues.
These changes provide additional exemptions and regulatory relief for some small hobby breeders. It does not change regulatory requirements for those who sell large numbers of dogs online or sight unseen. See below for more information. Specific questions may be directed to Dr. Gerald Rushin at APHIS at (301) 851-3751.