AHC Latest News- May 22, 2020

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

May 22, 2020
Special COVID-19 Issue

Copyright © 2020 American Horse Council

The AHC News is provided to you as a benefit of your AHC membership, and we hope you find the articles informative and useful. While the AHC does grant permission for newsletter articles to be passed on, we hope you will encourage those you are sharing the articles and information with to join the AHC so they can stay informed and up-to-date!

Permission to pass on the AHC News articles to your members, readers, or others is granted on the condition that it is forwarded in its original form or directly linked with the AHC logo and a link to the AHC website.

Don’t forget to read all the way to the bottom of the newsletter as there’s some great stuff down there.

Survey COVID-19 Economic Impact on Equine Industry
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The American Horse Council is conducting a brief survey (14 questions which take less than 10 minutes) to determine the economic impacts of COVID-19 on the equine industry. We would very much appreciate your assistance with collecting this information. The only thing you need to have handy is your total horse related income and expenses for March 2019 and March 2020 so we have some comparison.

It’s important to note that for statistical reasons we are sending this survey to a predetermined 1,000 people. Please do NOT forward this or share this survey with others as statisticians will be scaling the responses and we must preserve the sample size .This survey will close May 30, 2020, and depending on the pandemic’s length we will reissue to get up to date numbers and data.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AHCCOVID19Impact
Thank you. Be well and Be Safe. #HorseStrong

Resources for Horse Owners
https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#horse-owners

Horse Industry, Outdoor Groups Endorse “Great American Outdoors Act of 2020”

On May 6, 2020, the American Horse Council, American Sportfishing Association, American Trails and more than 25 other members of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to pass the “Great American Outdoors Act” (S. 3422). The bill would not only promote outdoor activities as states begin to ease social distancing requirements, but it would also achieve key horse industry objectives such as fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  S. 3422 will fully fund LWCF by investing $900 million per year for public lands, parks and trails. Serving as a “recreational package” discussed by Senate staff with members of the horse industry earlier this year, the bill would also address the nation’s public lands maintenance backlog.  Reducing the backlog in trails maintenance projects is a goal industry has fought for within the context of the “Restore Our Parks Act” (ROPA), among other vehicles.  During the past year, members of the horse industry have submitted more than 200 letters to lawmakers urging passage of individual trails bills.  The bill will also help to bolster recreation-focused business, including riding barns, as Americans seek to spend time outdoors during the months ahead.

S. 3422 is timely and will help expedite a transition to more flexible social distancing practices, including the re-opening of access to the nation’s trails. The National Park Service (NPS) is adopting a phased approach to open trails in the nation’s 62 national parks, consistent with the “Opening Up America Again Guidelines” released by the Administration on April 16.  In a statement from the Department of Interior (DOI), Secretary Bernhardt affirmed the agency’s plan to work with governors and assess the circumstances of each state, thereby initiating a “park by park” approach to reopening access.  During the week of May 9, for example, DOI announced the reopening of 16 national parks, including the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina, the Grand Canyon, and the Curecanti National Recreation Area of Colorado, to name a few.  To view a list of parks included in the recent, large-scale opening, please see the following link:  https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/case-you-missed-it-interior-continues-safely-restore-access-public-lands .  For an “A to Z” list of national parks that have re-opened, or are in the process of easing restrictions to access, please visit the following web site:  https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2020/05/reopening-national-park-system-whats-open.

Submitted by:  Bryan Brendle, Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs

Resources for Small Businesses
https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#equine-businesses

SBA, Congress Roll Out Paycheck Protection Tools, Proposed Changes

While Congress debates next steps related to stimulus bills, the Administration continues to release guidance and other tools to clarify the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) implementation, especially its signature “loan forgiveness” provision.  On May 15, SBA released the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application, including instructions for its completion, a “Schedule A” and related worksheet.

According to SBA, the 11-page form includes “several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers.”  These include options for businesses “to calculate payroll costs using an alternative payroll covered period that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles” and “flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period,” among other measures.  Importantly, the new form addresses some of the feedback from members of the horse industry, including “step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness.”

Because the “covered period” for Paycheck Protection loans begins on the date that the bank actually disburses a loan to the borrower, it’s important to track various expenses during the window outlined by the CARES Act.  To view a copy of the 11-page application and instructions, please click here: https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form–paycheck-protection-program-loan-forgiveness-application .
Despite a congressional impasse over so-called Phase Four legislation to address the coronavirus, House and Senate lawmakers are rolling out their own bipartisan flexibility measures focusing on narrow fixes to the PPP. The House will vote next week on the “Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act” (H.R. 6886), introduced by Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Chip Roy (R-TX) on May 11.  Highlights include the following provisions, which in part reflect feedback from members of the horse industry who are navigating the program:

  • Eliminating a provision requiring 75 percent of proceeds to cover payroll expenses as a pre-condition for loan forgiveness;
  • Allowing employers to participate in payroll tax deferment and the PPP;
  • Extending re-hire deadlines beyond June 30;
  • And extending the “cover period” beyond the current eight-week timeframe, more accurately reflecting the time expected for consumer demand to gain traction and drive revenue.

To view a copy of a statement related to H.R. 6886, please see the following:
https://roy.house.gov/media/press-releases/reps-chip-roy-and-dean-phillips-release-paycheck-protection-flexibility-act .  On the other side of the Capitol, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Cardin (D-MD), Collins (R-ME) and Shaheen (D-NH) have offered the “Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act.”  This narrow bill would also provide flexibility, including extension of the loan application filing deadline from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020 and extension of the cover period from eight to 16 weeks of expenses.

Submitted by: Bryan Brendle, Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs

Resources for Non-Profits
https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#equine-non-profits
Nonprofits in the Time of COVID-19

While every sector of our economy and our lives has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit sector has taken an especially hard hit. This includes the horse industry. From breed and discipline associations to rescues and equine-assisted therapy centers, income is down, while expenses are not.

In many respects, our national breed and discipline organizations are part of the foundation of the horse world. At their core, they maintain the purity of our breeds and set the rules and standards for competition. While you might never own a purebred horse, remember that breed standards typically include conformation, helping ensure that there’s a genetic pool of strong, athletic animals for future generations. The rules they establish for competition gives everyone guidelines to follow, right down to the local level. Sure, you might not agree with everything they do, but these organizations lay the foundation upon which we all build.

What can organizations in this sector do? Ask people to renew their memberships, even if they don’t “need” it this year because they don’t plan to compete. Remind them to register their foals, and transfer registrations for horses they’ve bought or sold. Many organizations have magazines that typically rely on competitions to generate advertising. Ask your advertisers to place an ad just to highlight their horses, even if they don’t have show wins to brag about. Many times people just need to be asked or reminded – and don’t be afraid to tell them why you need their support right now.

Rescues are more obviously feeling the pinch. While money is always needed, think of other ways people can help. Depending on your state’s regulations you might not be able to have a lot of volunteers on the property, leaving you to do more of the manual labor and less time to spend in the office. Consider looking for volunteers that can help with other aspects of your operation that allow them to stay socially distanced. For example, you might find someone to help with your record-keeping or scheduling appointments. You could look for one or more people that can assist with your local promotion, from social media posts to writing and distributing press releases. Lots of people with lots of different skills are unemployed or under-employed right now and would welcome an opportunity to keep their skills sharp while helping you.

Equine-assisted therapy centers are also under the gun. Many of your riders need more hands-on assistance than can be given under social distancing rules, so your lesson volume is down yet you still have to maintain your horses. Similar to rescues, think outside the box for ways people can help, such as record-keeping and promotion. There are options for fundraising as well – for example, there’s a company that lets you design and sell t-shirts and similar apparel with no upfront inventory requirement, and they do the fulfillment as well. This helps raise funds and helps promote your program as more and more people are out and about displaying your organization’s name and artwork. For this group, staying in touch with your lesson clients is also important. Try to find the time – or a volunteer with time – to do photos or videos of your lesson horses and post them on social media or email them directly to your customers. While the smile on the child’s face won’t be quite as big as in person, they’ll still be thrilled to connect with their favorite horses. These ideas work well for regular lesson programs too!

While the world looks very different today than it did just a few months ago, we’re all learning to adjust, and eventually we’ll be much closer to the world we knew than the one we’re living in now. In the meantime, help if you can, and ask for help if you need it.

Submitted by: Molly O’Brien – Program Manager for Time to Ride

 Resources for Equine Associations

Virtual Solutions for Association Events During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The April 2020 meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) was scheduled to take place in Washington DC. But when the coronavirus pandemic made a physical gathering impossible, the organizers decided to hold the entire event online and made registration free and open to everyone. With around 1,700 people typically attending the meeting, 7,267 registered this time. Nearly every sector of the equine community host in-person, large scale meetings and expos like this, and are faced with cancellations and rescheduling. Virtual events may be the best choice for our industry during this tumultuous time.

Online meetings might lack many of the benefits of an in-person conference: conversations over dinner; face-to-face networking; fresh perspectives that can come from simply leaving one’s home ground. Regardless, as more meetings move online — a trend likely to continue even after the pandemic fades — organizations may need to accept the new virtual reality of group gatherings.  The most successful virtual conferences and meetings can seamlessly integrate speakers, technology, content, networking, and sponsors in a way that creates real impact for attendees. The interest in listening or engaging in multiple talks without leaving home has proven to be enticing to new participants, increasing engagement.

Virtual conferences might lack the intimacy of a physical gathering, but it’s still possible for attendees to connect with each other. Virtual event platforms often have a chat function allowing for real-time feedback. Some students and younger professionals might even find digital communication with industry leaders to be less intimidating than a face-to-face encounter, in addition to being less time intensive. Additionally, with the rising costs of travel and a decreasing amount of travel funding had ended opportunities for  regular travel to far-off conferences. The COVID-19 pandemic may cause more conferences in the future to adopt a ‘hybrid’ approach, with both physical and virtual attendees.
Virtual meetings have some other advantages compared with a physical one. Live talks could be paused or rewound, a useful feature for those who missed details or wanted to spend more time pondering a crucial slide. Speakers can pre-record presentations in case of scheduling conflicts. Watching talks from home can ease a bit of the pressure of attending a large conference that would require dashing from one session to another across a vast convention halls. This allows for attendance to  a wider variety of sessions than normal, for both speakers and attendees, since switching between parallel sessions can be seamless.
The pandemic continues to present interesting challenges for the equine industry and as solutions to these challenges present themselves, the American Horse Council with share them. Please contact the AHC at info@horsecouncil.org with more questions or solutions you would like shared.

Submitted by: Cliff Williamson, Director of Health & Regulatory Affairs

Membership Spotlight

With the struggles of trying to find different ways to stay engaged and active during these uncertain time of COVID-19, one organization, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is keeping their youth active and engaged.  The AQHA, one of the oldest members of the American Horse Council (AHC), since 1970, has over 220,000+ members and over 18,000+ American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) members.  The AQHYA promotes leadership, competition, and other non-horse related activities for the horse loving youth and is the largest youth equine association.
AQHA will keep the AQHYA members engaged  with the help of the AHC on Monday, June 8 and Tuesday, June 9, 2020 approximately 20 youth members will join the AHC for virtual Hill visits having meetings with Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) who championed the Preventing All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act.  AHC also reached out to Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) to participate but has not confirmed.  Another topic which may be discussed is federal funding for equine assisted therapy for veterans.
We look forward to helping the #MyWhyChallenge through Leadership Development for the Power of YOUth.  These YOUth members are our leaders of tomorrow who are willing to learn today setting the stage for a lifetime of success.

Submitted by: Lynda Majerowicz, Membership Specialist

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