Federal Issue Brief

 H.R. 3704, Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act

AVMA Position:



Introduced by Congressman Gary Ackerman (NY-5th), H.R. 3704 would amend the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 to require that all nonambulatory livestock in interstate and foreign commerce be immediately and humanely euthanized when such livestock become nonambulatory.

Current Status:

House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry.


The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service in 2009 amended a rule regarding the disposition of nonambulatory, disabled cattle, and have released directives on humane handling of livestock.


  • AVMA policy on Disabled Livestock, states “Animals that are down should be euthanatized immediately and not taken to slaughter. However, if swine are down, and are not in extreme distress or do not have an obviously irreversible condition, they may be allowed up to 2 hours to recover. Acceptable interventions to assist in this recovery include rest, cooling, or other treatments that do not create drug residue concerns.” 
  • H.R. 3704 does not allow for an exemption for the resting of fatigued nonambulatory, noninjured swine, and therefore is not consistent with AVMA Policy. 
  • Ante-mortem inspections of livestock are integral as part of the overall animal health surveillance system and to recognize and mitigate potential food safety hazards. The AVMA is concerned this legislation would disallow ante-mortem inspections of nonambulatory livestock that are euthanized prior to inspection.

AVMA Contact:

Dr. Whitney L. Miller, Assistant Director, AVMA Governmental Relations at 202-289-3211.,