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12 23Fri11282014

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Back Local News ‘Bill won’t affect Guam cockfighting’

‘Bill won’t affect Guam cockfighting’

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GUAM Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo clarified yesterday that the new provisions of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, also called the Farm Bill, will most likely not have an effect on cockfighting in Guam.

Sen. Rory Respicio has asked for clarification on whether the recently passed federal bill would prohibit cockfighting – a sport which has deep cultural roots on island.

Moreover, the legislation also incorporates a provision making it a federal crime to bring a child under the age of 16 to an animal fighting event.

In a letter sent to Bordallo, the senator asked whether the measure directly attacks local cockfighting enterprises that are legally licensed under Guam law.

In response, Bordallo said the clause in question, Section 12308 of H.R. 2642, which strengthens the Animal Welfare Act, establishes penalties and makes it unlawful to attend an animal fighting venture.

However, Bordallo said the Farm Bill did not alter the provision of the chapter in federal law that specifically addresses cockfighting or instances of conflict between federal and state laws.

Bordallo pointed out that this chapter provides "that federal law shall not supersede or invalidate state, local or municipal laws relating to animal fighting ventures."

According to Bordallo, the new provisions are likely aimed at strengthening restrictions on other animal fighting events that are already illegal, such as dog fighting, by specifically making attendance at such events illegal.

"I would note that dog fighting is not legal in any jurisdiction in the U.S., while cockfighting is currently legal in some jurisdictions, including Guam," she said in her response letter to Respicio.

In the senator's earlier correspondence with Bordallo, he noted that cockfighting on Guam is a regulated enterprise that has substantial support from the people.

"It would be a continued travesty if our community was yet again subjected to this mandate from a Congress we have no vote in. Indeed, it would be another example constituting unwarranted federal interference in local affairs," Respicio wrote.

Just this week, the U.S. Senate gave its approval to the farm bill. The measure is now awaiting President Barack Obama's signature.

Aside from strengthening animal welfare laws, the legislation includes provisions initiating cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as strengthening crop insurance programs for farmers.

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