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Stop New Equine Diseases! Contact USDA Today!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

American Horse Council Action Alert

USDA Must Stop Threat of African Horse Sickness!

USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is soliciting comments from the public related to its proposed list of pests and diseases that pose a high risk to agriculture. The 2018 farm bill authorizes USDA to compile a list of major diseases, so long as it is “likely to pose a significant risk to the food and agricultural critical infrastructure.” As a member of the horse industry, you have the opportunity to make your voice heard by contacting USDA and alerting federal regulators about the dangers of African Horse Sickness, a disease long underestimated by the agency. To make the greatest impact on USDA’s decision-making, we urge you to submit your letter as soon as possible, and “stack” the docket with pro-horse industry comments!

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Include Ag Groups in Paycheck Protection Program!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

Tell Congress to Extend Paycheck Protection to Farm Groups!

As lawmakers work on the next phase of corona-virus aid relief, Congress will consider measures to improve the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a small business relief measure credited for helping to stem massive job losses experienced since March.  Most equine enterprises classify as small businesses and do not necessarily have “in house” resources to monitor availability of educational tools to survive the pandemic.  Many of these small businesses turn to educational, non-profit groups to leverage limited resources.  By expanding eligibility to participate in PPP to a broader variety of non-profit entities, such as 501(C) 5 and 6 groups, Congress can secure a much-needed pipeline to expedite delivery of resources for the horse industry! Some examples of groups that would benefit directly or indirectly from expanding the scope of PPP include breed associations, horse shows, county fairs, and farm bureaus.

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Tell House Lawmakers to Pass Recreation Package!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

“Great American Outdoors Act” Gallops Toward the Finish Line!

As states re-open public lands, Congress has an opportunity to pass important trails legislation that will get Americans outside while promoting the health of recreational riders.  Thanks in large part to continued advocacy from the horse industry, the Senate voted June 17 to pass the “Great American Outdoors (GAO) Act of 2020” by a vote of 73 to 25.  Now that the Senate has passed this important lands’ bill, the House must take the next step and send it to the White House to be signed into law.

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AHC Latest News- May 29, 2020

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

May 29, 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.

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

Although many states across the country are starting to loosen restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking havoc on every sector of our economy. One of the places this is most obvious are unemployment numbers, which continue to rise.

So what to do if you’re a horse owner and find yourself suddenly jobless?

If you keep your horses at home, there are some simple steps you can take to start reducing expenses. Turn your horses out as long as possible – even 24/7 if your situation permits. With spring grass in full force, you’ll be able to cut down on hay and grain, plus bedding. However if your horses haven’t been turned out on grass yet this year, introduce it slowly to reduce colic and laminitis risks.

This year’s hay crop is starting to come in. If you typically purchase a big supply, see if your hay producer will work with you on delivering smaller loads or taking monthly payments. Remember they have expenses too so see what you can do to meet halfway.

Look into other options for decreasing grain consumption, such as hay cubes or hay extenders. These might not be necessary while the grass is good but come fall and winter they could help you save money. Work with your vet for recommendations specific to your horses and their needs.

If you keep your horses shod, one or more might be able to go barefoot. Work with your farrier and veterinarian to see if this is a possibility.

Maintain your horse’s regular health and hoof care. This includes vaccinations, fecal counts/deworming, and hoof trims and shoes. Skimping in these areas now will quite possibly lead to bigger, more expensive problems down the road – the old “penny wise, pound foolish” saying comes to mind. Since it’s unlikely you’ll be traveling to shows or competitions, ask your vet to administer only the core vaccines.

If you board, many of the items above still apply, especially health and hoof care. In a boarding situation, you might be able split the vet’s farm call fee if several boarders have him or her out at the same time.

If your horse is in less work, ask the barn owner or manager to decrease the amount of grain fed – not to save costs but to prevent your horse from gaining the horsey equivalent of the “quarantine 15”.

Is there somebody else at the barn that might do a full or part lease on your horse for a few months? If so, be sure to be specific about who is responsible for specific expenses, such as farrier bills, fly spray and the like. Better to have everything covered!

Talk with your horse friends, surf social media and google for other ideas on how to manage your equine expenses through these difficult days. Horse people are a creative and resilient group and there are lots of ideas out there that might work in your circumstances.

Lastly, think about what drew you to horses in the first place. Take a breath and call out the 10-year-old child that still lives in you and relish simply being with your horse. Go on trail rides. Play games. Linger in the barn instead of always rushing. Your love of horses remains intact despite these dark days, and hopefully you can draw some comfort from that.

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

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

  According to the 2017 AHC Foundation Equine Economic Impact Study, 30% of American households  include an equine enthusiast. Arguably, every one of those enthusiasts have been impacted in the last three months. As have the operations that cater to each and everyone of those horse fans, owners and riders. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, our industry needs to keep a close eye on changing customer behaviors and ask the right questions to ensure that we are prepared for any negative outcomes or new opportunities. Steps need to be taken during the transitional period between quarantine and reopening to protect long-term interest, satisfaction, and engagement.

What you need to consider for your business;

  1. What is the core service your business provides your clientele?
  2. How are your core clients or customers impacted by COVID-19?
  3. How can you provide more value to those customers through your products or services?
  4. How is Coronavirus influencing their spending habits?
  5. Is this an opportunity for you to go above and beyond to give back?
  6. Are your employees safe and are you offering safe experiences for clients?

With the economic downturn, consumer behavior is likely to change drastically. For those without significant disposable income, those planning for/are in retirement and for small business owners, an economic downturn might result in a sharp decline in their propensity or ability to spend. While consumers could take a “wait and see” approach, businesses should consider their target audience and how spending habits may change as a result of the current economic climate. Several ways to keep spending “horsey” in your community include;

  • Keep current customers happy: Loyal customers give you more sales opportunities. Be sure to communicate business changes, including hours of operations, virtual offerings, and managerial decisions to keep customers in the loop during shifting times. Communicating is more important than ever right now.
  • Boost your customer baseIncreased “work from home” periods will naturally lead to an increase in fair weather outdoor activities. Get creative and hustle. Leave no stone unturned in pulling “newbies” into the horse industry. And don’t stop marketing. A lot of businesses will pull back on the cash flow of marketing funds. This can give you a chance to attract the attention of new clients. Time to Ride is a great resource for barns, visit https://timetoride.org/
  • Sharpen your pencil: This period has upended everything, so now is the time to reflect and reassess your current business strategy as well as to gather, understand, and process local-based data to make strategic decisions for your business.

When businesses invest in creating a quality experience, clients notice. According to an online poll, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for better customer experience. Therefore, it pays to create a superior customer experience. Instead of losing track of your customer’s voice in the vast sea of noise, make sure that you can listen closely and understand how they feel about your business. Now is the time to “lean in” to the communication tools that customers prefer, i.e. digital tools like text messaging, video chat, social media services, etc.

Additionally, businesses that put people in close proximity to others will potentially face challenges, as users are choosing to avoid close contact in exchange for staying home. This will not only impact a company’s bottom lines but also their employees’ work schedules and employment status. Businesses need to provide clear direction on how they will proceed in light of the reopening. As the overall concern for personal health continues, owners and managers will be forced to communicate how they are not only taking precautions with their own employees but also how safety control mechanisms are operating to ensure no contamination or spread of the virus to their customers or clients.

Overarchingly, equine businesses will have to do what they have always done best – adapt. Staying on top of the latest trends, watching the data for insight, and understanding new consumer behaviors will be key in driving successful marketing strategies moving forward. The American Horse Council will continue to look for strategies to help meet the needs of the equine industry, and we would ask any equine business owners or operators affected by the outbreak or the subsequent quarantine to fill out the AHC survey found here  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AHCCOVID19Impact This will be critical to measuring the impact of this pandemic in between the 2017 and the upcoming 2022 AHC Foundation Equine Economic Studies.  Please contact info@horsecouncil.org if you have questions or information you would like shared.

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

Resources for Non-Profits
https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#equine-non-profits

“Aggie” Non-for-Profit Groups Advocate for Expanded Paycheck Protection Eligibility

On May 26, AHC, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Grange and other agriculture groups submitted joint-letters to Sens. McConnell (R-KY), Rubio (R-FL) and Cardin (D-MD), urging extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to organizations filing as 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) entities .  As previously reported, the CARES Act currently restricts non-profit eligibility for PPP to 501(c)(3) and (c)(19) groups, thereby excluding a broad spectrum of professional and trade associations and labor unions.  As Congress continues to consider additional COVID-19 relief legislation and more narrow vehicles in the House and Senate focusing on additional paycheck protection flexibility, opportunities will arise to continue to amend PPP.

While the House-passed “HEROES Act” extended PPP eligibility to all not-for-profit organizations, much work needs to be done, especially in the Senate.  The coalition points out that there are thousands of not for profits groups formed as a 501(c)(4), (5) or (6) that support or promote critical essential professions, industries, small businesses and workers. Many of these are important ag-focused, non-profit groups serve as key resources for farming best practices, market data, educational outreach, agricultural education, and most urgently, pandemic-related assistance.  Without the benefit of 501(c) (4), (5) or (6) operations, a diverse group of employers including family farms, horse breeding operations, and state and county fairs, just to name a few examples, could lose an important resource for tools necessary to move beyond the pandemic and resume their roles as top job creators.

Although next steps remain uncertain, lawmakers will likely come to the table to negotiate so-called “phase four” relief legislation this summer. In conjunction with House passage of a narrow set of PPP flexibilities on May 28, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has stated that the Senate would take up the issue in June.  AHC will continue to update you on activities related to economic measures impacting the horse industry.

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

 Resources for Equine Associations

The United Horse Coalition (UHC) knows that Associations are a great place for horse owners to find help and support within the equine community. We’re encouraging Associations across all breeds and disciplines to check out our newest resource for horse owners – the searchable Equine Resource Database.

We pushed up the release of our searchable Equine Resource Database in the wake of COVID-19, in an effort to compile a listing of all known safety net programs available in the nation to help owners who are in need. By having one centrally located area to access these resources, UHC hopes it will help owners keep their horses from becoming at-risk during these trying times.

We also added a new searchable component on the website to make it even easier for those in need of safety net programs to access the information they require. For example, an owner in need of a hay bank, will choose the resource they are in need of from a drop down menu, put in the state in which they reside and the search database will display any available resources in their vicinity. In addition to the resources, users can filter by breed specific rescues and those organizations holding accreditations or affiliations with various organizations.

We know this tool will be a great benefit not only for horse owners, but Associations looking for ways to support their members experiencing difficulties. We encourage all Associations to share the Equine Resource Database with their members and affiliates, in hopes that those in need of help can find support local to them.

We are also asking Associations to check out the database and let us know if we are missing any breed or discipline specific safety net programs. Associations have the best understanding of the support available to their members, and we want to make sure we’re sharing the most accurate list of resources as possible. If you think we’re missing a resource or safety net program, email us at UHC@HorseCouncil.Org and we’ll gladly add it to the database!

Submitted by: Ashley Harkins, Director of UHC and Emily Stearns, Program Manager EWDC

Membership Spotlight

We all go to a horse race to experience the thrill of the race!  We walk in wondering what horse to bet on, should I bet on Shoot Down the LineSnow Dancer, or maybe go for the long shot and bet on Chocolate Sundae ?  Or maybe you aren’t there for the horses, maybe you’re there on one of three special race days, the Triple Crown, to just enjoy the excitement of the moment!  But did you ever stop for a moment and think about the jockeys?  The men and women who sit atop the best horses, who lead them into the starting gates, riding them through the turns, and ultimately crossing the finish line?  One group has and will continue to be the voice of the professional jockeys of the thoroughbred and quarter horse racing industry – The Jockeys’ Guild!

Founded in 1940 after an injury to Sammy Renick who was recuperating from a broken leg in the hospital and a visit from Eddie Arcaro, a discussion ensued, leading to the creation of an organization representing the interests of jockeys.  Jumping ahead 80 years, the Jockey Guild represents approximately 1250 professional jockeys of thoroughbred and quarter horse racing, to include active, retired, and disabled jockeys.  Huge strides have been made since the founding of the Guild: health insurance for qualified members and families, helmet, vests, and safety rail improvements, padded starting gaits, and enhancements to safety standards.  Making continued strides in health and safety to include improved medical standards and paramedics and medical directors at each track, continued testing of current safety equipment, and developing procedures in response to traumatic head and spinal injuries after on-track accidents.

With the changing climate of COVID-19 the Jockeys’ Guild and racing will most likely be impacted for the next 9-12 months.  Changes in budget, how races are viewed, and how fans can attend are all aspects needing to be addressed when racing fully opens for the public.  But the Jockeys’ Guild is in a good place.  They have not overspent their budget, staying within the boundaries they set, spent wisely, and have provided benefits for their members.  Some racetracks remained open during the lockdown, which is a positive for the industry as whole.  But the industry will likely be impacted for the next 9 to 12 months, but with organizations like the Jockeys’ Guild supporting their members, the industry is resilient, determined, and will flourish once again.

So, the next time you go to the races to watch Chocolate Sundae win the third leg of the Triple Crown, remember the jockey who was led into the starting gate, who maneuvered her through the pack, to ultimately sit in the winner’s circle enjoying the excitement of winning the Triple Crown!  The jockey is the unsung hero of horse racing, thank you Jockeys’ Guild for all you do for the jockey!

Submitted by: Lynda Majerowicz, Membership Specialist

 

Congress Must Pass the Great American Outdoors Act!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

Tell Your Senators to Vote for “Great American Outdoors Act”

As the states move to re-open public lands, Congress has a major opportunity to pass important trails legislation that will get Americans outside while promoting the health of recreational riders and other outdoor enthusiasts.  Thanks in large part to continued advocacy from the horse industry, a bipartisan group of senators has sponsored the “Great American Outdoors Act of 2020” (S. 3422).  Before adjourning for a Memorial Day break, Senate Majority Leader McConnell stated that this important recreation bill will come up for a vote in June.   Please contact your senators today!

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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

AHC Latest News- May 1, 2020

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

May 1, 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.

Resources for Horse Owners

https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#horse-owners

How to reopen your barn following the COVID19 quarantine

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for a complete shift in the daily lifestyle of everyone in the United States, including our horses. Living under quarantine, curfews, and learning how to work from home has reiterated how important barn visits are to mental health. As states across the country relax stay-at-home requirements, we have some tips on how to keep your horses, horse people, and your barn as healthy as possible.

  • Limit gatherings to as few people as possible, and continue to maintain the recommended social distancing protocols that include six (6) feet of separation between individuals. Just because the quarantine is being lifted doesn’t mean the threat is over.  COVID-19 can be detected in the air for up to 3 hours after being transmitted. Some stables have created a schedule where clients can reserve time slots for their visits, reducing the amount of people in the barn by only allowing 3-4 people present at once. This may be the most appropriate step forward for those barns in states that were forced to close outright.
  • Encourage proper hand-washing and provide as many locations/opportunities for people to do so. Due to the structure of the virus, washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to prevent contamination. Hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective.
  • Make a daily or hourly cleaning chart to prevent virus transmission. Disinfect common contact areas regularly and avoid sharing equipment and supplies between people, COVID-19 can live on copper for up to four hours, cardboard for 24 hours, and plastic and stainless steel for up to 3 days.
    • Non-porous materials (leather bridles/saddles/halters, nylon halters/lead ropes, gate latches, door handles, spray nozzle) harbor the virus longer than porous materials (cotton lead ropes, saddle pads)
    • Clean communal leather tack daily with tack cleaner. Knowing how to properly disinfect tack is useful for any equestrian, be it for strangles or COVID-19. Aerosol sprays such as Lysol tend to strip leather of oils, so if you use an aerosol spray to disinfect your tack, be sure to let it dry completely and then recondition the leather to protect it. Soap and water is another effective way to break down the lining of bacteria and viruses and is often safe for most tack. Diluted bleach disinfects well, but leather may dry out and crack from repeated treatments.
    • Disinfect gate latches, spray nozzles, cross tie snaps, pitchforks, wheelbarrows, and other frequently used items regularly or after contact with personnel
    • Stall door latches, hose ends, light switches, faucets and feed scoops should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  • There may be state requirements to wear gloves or face coverings to reduce the risk of spreading germs. Many businesses will be looking to taking the temperature of those present in and will not allow anybody to come if they register a temperature or feel sick and this may go a long way to helping clients feel comfortable.
  • Long story short, nobody spends 2 months on the couch unscathed, so take it easy getting back into training. Many riding stables are closed to tenants and all equine events have been canceled in an effort to reduce the virus’s spread. Due to these closures, many horses are not receiving regular workout schedules, or maybe no exercise at all. While daily lifestyles are difficult for all during this pandemic, adapting a horse’s schedule to a life after quarantine can be equally as challenging. Exercise related injuries would be a terrible way to end the quarantine.

Making boarders and clients safe and secure will be critical in getting the horse industry back on its feet, and each facility, whether private or public, should have written policies regarding COVID-19 and expect all clients and professionals to adhere to them. Keeping our horses healthy has always been a priority, but without their owners you can’t keep the lights on. All of these tips, and more, can be found on the AHC COVID-19 Resource Page, please visit it here as we continue to update it during this transition.

Details: Contact Cliff Williamson at cwilliamson@horsecouncil.org

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

Congress, Administration Move Toward Next Steps for  “CARES Act 2.0” 

Since Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act on April 24, also known as “CARES Act 1.5,” lawmakers and small business groups continue to identify ways to refine and expand the scope of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  For example, the horse industry is working with the Farm Bureau and others to secure eligibility of 501(C)5 groups for Paycheck Protection.  For background purposes, the tax code classifies 501(C)5 organizations as agriculture groups and labor unions.  If these ag-focused trade associations don’t receive emergency funds, then many agriculture operations could lose an important “go–to” source for economic data, best practices, and policy information.  The horse industry is also lobbying to include 501(c)6 groups – which include a broad swath of trade and professional associations – within the loan program.  Extending eligbility to more 501(C) groups could prove to be an uphill battle.  For example, many Republicans might oppose inclusion of 501(C)5’s on the grounds that they oppose labor unions.  And on the 501(C)6 front, many Democrats could raise objections, on the grounds that most Chambers of Commerce, a key pillar of the business lobby, classify as 501(C)6.  At the end of the day, lawmakers might agree to include “all of the above,” sealing a deal that has something for everybody.

Congress, SBA Must Make Paycheck Protection More “Ag Friendly
While Congress discusses CARES Act 2.0, the horse industry and its allies are also advocating for ways to expedite delivery of funds into the hands of agricultural borrowers.  AHC, the National Cattlemen Beef Association and the Farm Bureau, among others, are requesting more resources for rural lenders to distribute Paycheck Protection loans.  Specifically, the coalition is requesting that Congress include Farm Credit System lenders within future “set asides” for community banks.  The coalition is also encouraging Congress to continue to pressure SBA to process applications as quickly as possible so that funds can be delivered to rural America without further delay.  With respect to covered expenses related to rent, the horse industry and its allies are also asking that Congress include the rental of business-related equipment as an eligible expense under Paycheck Protection.  Also, a staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee has stated that committee leadership supports publication of SBA guidance tailor-made for agriculture.

Lawmakers, Administration, Compile Wish Lists for CARES Act 2.0
Congress could face a prolonged stand-off in negotiations.  Not only will Democrats and Republicans in Congress have their differences, but the Administration will also have input.  For example, the Trump Administration has proposed a major infrastructure piece within a future package.  Many GOP leaders criticize this idea, mainly because of the hefty price tag.  Because the next package will begin to move in the House, many of the Democrats’ priorities will be embedded in the original bill, putting Senate Republicans on defense.  A House Democratic source identifies a $500 billion boost for state and local governments, more money for mass transit, and eliminating the cap on the State and Local Tax deduction, commonly referred to as the SALT deduction, included in recent tax reform legislation, as priorities in the next relief package.  GOP members, however, will advocate for civil liability protections related to COVID-19 exposure, an issue that will be a point of contention with Democrats.  While a path forward remains uncertain for items not directly related to COVID-19, lawmakers could face political pressure to move more quickly on narrow packages that directly address emergency relief measures, including SBA’s loan programs.

SBA Announces Record Processing of Paycheck Protection Loans
On May 3, one week following release of the second batch of funds totaling $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, SBA announced that it made more 2.2 million loans.  This figure surpasses the 1.6 million loans distributed pursuant to “round one,” which began on April 3 and dried up on April 16.  During the first week, SBA had distributed $175 billion of loans, more than half the allotment authorized under the “Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act,” also known as “CARES Act 1.5.”  According to SBA, the average size of the loans distributed totals $79,000, which is less than half the size of the loans disbursed during the first round.  To view a copy of the SBA statement related to loan statistics, please see the following link:  https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-newsroom/press-releases-media-advisories/joint-statement-administrator-jovita-carranza-and-secretary-steven-t-mnuchin-success-paycheck

Details:  Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

 

Resources for Non-Profits
https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#equine-non-profits

 Resources for Equine Associations

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a very significant on equine associations, as it has with all aspects of our lives. For national, regional and state breed and discipline organizations, the impact is both financial and a public relations dilemma. How do you promote memberships when the impetus for joining is often competition-related, and competitions are delayed or cancelled? What do you say to trainers whose livelihoods depend on competing and buying and selling horses? How do you respond to instructors who need lesson riders, but have had to close their doors to the public due to state regulations?

Many organizations have taken steps to provide guidance for their members as states start to gradually reopen. For example, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has developed a COVID-19 Action Plan for Returning Safely to Competition. The Joint Leadership Council (JLC), which consists of leaders from the American Hackney Horse Society, American Morgan Horse Association, American Road Horse & Pony Association, American Saddlebred Horse Association, Arabian Horse Association, United Professional Horsemen’s Association and the United States Equestrian Federation, has created guidelines for reopening barns. The American Paint Horse Association passed an emergency stimulus bill that included extending an extra year of eligibility for Novice Youth and Novice Amateurs, Youth in their last year of Walk-Trot, Youth 13 & Under and Youth 18 & Under, and Green classes, and modifying the requirements for Regional Club eligibility, due to limitations they might encounter due to event restrictions in 2020 due to COVID-19.

These are simply a handful of the ways organizations are working to help their members adapt to our current “normal”. True to its nature, the horse industry is working together to help everyone weather this storm.

Details: Contact Molly O’Brien at TTR@horsecouncil.org

Membership Spotlight

On Monday, April 27, 2020 we all took a break from the COVID-19 talk and learned about “Drones in the Equine Industry” from Allison Fultz, AHC member and Transportation Attorney in private practice in Washington, DC.  Allison gave a great practical overview of the rules governing drone flights in the US with issues relevant to the equine industry.  Allison gave an excellent presentation, including PowerPoint slides, current examples of drone interference with horses, and fielded questions from our viewers.  You can view the presentation here https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/vsl1F-H-_H9JW6-UtR_UcPdxMd24eaa80HRIrqcPz0zWac5yNwycySS9dtZ-xGIy

If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint presentation please contact info@horsecouncil.org.  If you have a topic relevant to the horse industry and would like to present please contact us at info@horsecouncil.org.

Our next topic is “From the Front Gate to the Back Fence: How to be Your own CEO”  by Scott Knudsen on Monday May 18, 2020 at 1pm EDT.  To register send an email to info@horsecouncil.org

Details: Contact Lynda Majerowicz at lmajerowicz@horsecouncil.org

AHC Latest News- May 1, 2020

0

The following is from the American Horse Council:

May 1, 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.

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

State Guidelines Create Patchwork of “Re-Open” Plans

Since the Administration released its Guidelines for Opening Up America Again on April 17, 31 states have initiated plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions, often adopting a tiered approach segmented by region and economic sector.  While the voluntary, state-based approach invites diverse re-open plans, two states – New York and Texas – illustrate different strategies to get back to business.   On Tuesday, April 28, New York Governor Cuomo outlined a 12-step program to reopen.  The plan requires that each of the state’s ten regions demonstrates “a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate” before initiating a phased re-opening.  The plan further provides that “phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions” with low risk of infection rates.  The plan provides that phase two will open certain industries based on relative risk levels that the business might present for potential infection of COVID-19.  Importantly for racetracks and horseshows, the plan states that “regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.”  Because COVID-19 restrictions are currently set to expire on May 15, it’s possible that some regions begin to initiate the first phase during the next two weeks.

In Texas, the “stay at home” restriction expired on Thursday, April 30.   According to Governor Abbott, beginning Friday, May 1,  “all retail stores, churches, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are permitted to reopen.” The governor states that these “services must limit their capacity to 25 percent of their listed occupancy.”  Unlike New York, the Texas plan also sets a hard date for Phase Two, set to begin May 18.  Under this scenario, the state will ease restrictions on health clubs and hair salons.  While the plan offers little detail about sporting events at this time, it does stipulate that athletic activities involving four or fewer participants can resume, so long as there is no physical contact.  It’s also worth noting that the PGA announced in mid-April its intent to resume tournaments in Texas, without spectators, beginning in mid-June.

Consistent with the PGA’s decision to conduct events without spectators, on Wednesday, April 29, Churchill Downs stated that it would re-open its stable area on May 11.  The racetrack also announced that it will conduct the Spring Meet, originally scheduled to open on March 17, without spectators.  On April 25, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) stated that it would continue to suspend “all USEF owned and named events, selection trials, training camps, clinics and activities” through May 31, 2020.  USEF also states that “this suspension includes points, scores, money won, qualifications, or rankings toward any USEF award programs, USEF owned and named events, or selection to a US team including USEF National Championships.”  It concludes by saying that “upon the expiration of this suspension, competitions must comply with requirements issued by USEF for operating sport horse competitions in this environment.”

While specific states and industries begin to outline plans to re-open, the process remains fluid and will be driven by new federal policies, among other factors.  For example, Congress is discussing inclusion of civil liability protections within the context of the next economic relief package to expedite a ramping up of business activity.  AHC will continue to share information related to re-opening sectors of the economy and the horse industry as events develop.

Details: Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

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

SBA Kicks Off Second Round of Emergency Loans, Expands Eligibility for Paycheck Protection

Since Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Health Care Enhancement Act (aka, CARES Act 2.0) last Friday, on Monday, April 27, the SBA began to continue processing applications for the Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs.  Demand for PPP has not subsided since having initially run out of funds totaling $350 billion on April 16.  As of Tuesday, April 28, SBA reported that it had approved approximately 476,000 loans worth $52 billion.  Because Congress allocated an additional $310 billion to keep the program afloat, it’s possible that lending institutions could disburse currently available funds during the next several days.

While the demand for funds remains high, the Administration has continued to issue guidance clarifying eligibility for certain segments of the horse industry.  On Friday, April 24, SBA clarified that “businesses receiving legal gaming revenues,” including racetracks, would be eligible for PPP so long as they meet the “500 employee or less” threshold and other requirements.  To view a copy of the Interim Final Rule for racetracks, please go to the following link: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Interim-Final-Rule-on-Requirements-for-Promissory-Notes-Authorizations-Affiliation-and-Eligibility.pdf.  Also on April 24, the Treasury released guidance stating that farmers who file an IRS Form 1040, Schedule F can qualify for Paycheck Protection.  This is good news for many breeding farms and other agricultural operations.  To view a copy of the Treasury FAQ clarifying Schedule F eligibility for PPP, please see the following:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/How-to-Calculate-Loan-Amounts.pdf.  To deliver relief for many recreational riders, federal regulators have provided some clarity for seasonal businesses.  On April 27, SBA issued an Interim Final Rule stating that seasonal employers can use an “alternative base period” to calculate payroll costs that more closely aligns with their operations.  To view a copy of the Interim Final Rule granting payroll calculation flexibility for seasonal businesses, please see the following:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Interim-Final-Rule-Additional-Criterion-for-Seasonal-Employers.pdf.

While federal policy makers continue to specify eligibility requirements for Paycheck Protection, the horse industry and its allies advocate for additional, expanded relief measures.  AHC, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and other partners are pushing for more resources for agriculture lenders to distribute PPP loans.  With respect to eligible entities, AHC is working directly with AFBF to explore ways to extend the program to trade associations and other non-profits who file as 501(C)(5) operations.  Also, AHC and other equine groups have joined the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to secure participation for 501(C)(6) groups, which includes many trade and professional associations.  AHC will continue to keep members informed of next steps on Paycheck Protection and other economic relief measures.

Details:  Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

Administration Suspends Entry of New Immigrants Into the U.S., With Some Exceptions

On April 22, President Trump announced that the Administration would suspend entry of certain “immigrants” into the country for a period of 60 days, citing economic conditions arising from COVID-19.  Fortunately for members of the horse industry and broader agricultural community who may continue to rely on guest workers under the H-2B and H-2A programs, the restriction will not add to delays for their guest workers who have not yet entered the country and still plan to do so.  While the executive action is relatively narrow in scope by focusing on candidates for a “green card,” subject to other exceptions, the Administration has left the door open for possible expansion of the ban to other classes of workers.  The order provides that “within 30 days of this proclamation, the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Homeland Security … shall review non-immigrant programs (emphasis added) and … recommend … other measures appropriate to stimulate the U.S. economy.”

Federal agencies have different rules for foreign nationals based on the amount of time they have access to the U.S.  Federal law defines an “immigrant” as a foreign national who has the right to reside permanently in the United States and work without restrictions.  However, the government grants temporary access to the U.S. for “non-immigrants,” which includes guest worker visa holders who traditionally support breeding farms, racing operations and other segments of the horse industry.

The Administration’s decision to focus on foreign labor and contemplate further restrictions adds uncertainty to the guest worker visas programs.  As you recall, Congress authorized a substantial increase in the cap on H-2B guest worker visa-holders within the context of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending legislation.  In early March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would release 35,000 supplemental H-2B visas pursuant to the spending law.  On April 2, however, DHS announced on its Twitter feed that the agency continues to review the H-2B rule, thereby delaying possible release of the supplemental visas.

To view a copy of the presidential order, go to the following link;  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/.

Details: Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

Resources for Non-Profits
https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/covid-19-resources/#equine-non-profits

Our focus this week is on Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy Centers,  and we’d like to urge centers to use the great resources compiled by AHC member, PATH International.

In these confusing days with an abundance of information that everyone is receiving, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) has created a web page to gather information specific to equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Here you will find COVID-19 resources, including sample documents for re-opening business, the PATH Intl.-generated COVID-19 bulletins to share information to care for not only our businesses but also our equine partners, and webinars that have been created by PATH Intl. professionals to help us all navigate the current situation. Information on new webinars are placed in the COVID-19 bulletins as well as PATH Intl. social media channels. 

https://www.pathintl.org/74-about-path-intl/1923-covid-19-bulletin

Resources for Equine Associations

The United Horse Coalition has developed a “mutual aid” spreadsheet which state horse councils and equine associations are welcome to use and adapt to your needs to facilitate neighbors helping neighbors. People can post things they need and people can post resources they can provide.  Contact UHC@horsecouncil.org for a free copy!

Details: Ashley Harkins @ UHC@horsecouncil.org

On a lighter note…..

Get your Hats and Mint Juleps ready and check out the virtual Kentucky Derby!
https://www.cbssports.com/general/news/virtual-kentucky-derby-how-to-watch-pole-positions-odds-for-the-triple-crown-showdown/

And check out the industry’s latest ambassadors – Whiskey & Lulu at home with Arnold.
https://twitter.com/Schwarzenegger/status/1254893796715753472?s=19

 

 

AHC Latest News- April 17,2020

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

April 17, 2020 – Special Issue

White House Releases Guidelines to Re-Open the U.S. Economy

On Thursday, April 16, the White House released “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again,” a 20-page document outlining a tiered and regionally-based roadmap to get back to business.   The guidelines are voluntary and authorize governors to implement either state-wide, or “county by county” timetables for easing restrictions on personal and commercial mobility.  Importantly, the guidelines establish so-called “gating criteria,” enumerating health-based benchmarks that serve as a prerequisite for different classes of business establishments to re-open.

Mass gatherings including racing events and horse shows would fall under “Phase 3,” which Administration officials are identifying as a state of relative control over risks associated with COVID-19 exposure.  Talks between various private sector stakeholder advisory committees are underway to discuss tactics to comply with the spirit of the guidelines while limiting potential tort liability arising from new risks.  These advisory committees include horse industry partners in the agriculture and sports communities.  AHC will share details related to next steps as they unfold.  To view a copy of the guidelines, go to the following link:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Guidelines-for-Opening-Up-America-Again.pdf.

Details: Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

 

We’re all doing a lot of video conferences so here’s a novel idea .

INVITE A HORSE TO YOUR NEXT CORPORATE MEETING OR VIDEO CALL
Need a fresh face to brighten up your video conference meetings? Want a fun experience for an online Happy Hour? Looking for a virtual tour? The Pennsylvania Equine Rescue & Retirement Foundation
Ambassadors Penn & Penny are here for you.
CALL TODAY!!    724-777-4747 or   EMAIL!!    info@perrf.org
We’ve got a number of great options.

Check out our COVID-19 Resources for
Horse Owners, Non-Profits, Equine Businesses, and Industry Employees – PLUS state specific resources
at

COVID-19 RESOURCES

A Screen Shot is shown below

 

Paycheck Protection Well Runs Dry, For Now

Since enactment of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, the Small Business Administration (SBA) on Thursday, April 16 depleted $350 billion of loan commitments under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), hitting the maximum amount authorized by the massive economic relief package.  Because Congress is officially out of session until Monday, May 4, lawmakers would have to pass legislation to authorize additional funds under rigid “pro forma” procedures prior to that date.  Last week, the Senate passed in pro forma session a narrow bill adding $250 billion to the PPP.  The House, however, rejected the proposal, and countered with a bill that would authorize $250 billion to fund municipal governments and hospital networks, in addition to Paycheck Protection aid.  The Senate subsequently rejected the House proposal, initiating behind-the-scenes talks to move past the stalemate.  With both chambers having reached an impasse on specific dollar amounts and the scope of additional economic aid, a near-term path forward remains uncertain.

Much of the confusion arising from Paycheck Protection stems from the two-tiered roll out for loan eligibility.  On April 3, the SBA began processing loans for small businesses and sole proprietors.  A week later, on April 10, the agency opened the program to independent contractors and the self-employed, thereby extending the program to large segments of the horse industry.  SBA had not previously operated large-scale loan programs for these two classes of borrowers, therefor creating an environment of uncertainty for borrowers and lenders.

Many members of the horse industry have reported long waiting times from their banks to learn details related to their applications.  To give perspective on the bottlenecks, the Administration reported earlier this week that it had processed approximately 1.4 million applications and disbursed slightly over $70 billion to banks. While policymakers intend the program to operate on a “first come, first served” basis, the depletion of funds should not necessarily dissuade potential borrowers from moving forward with an application.  Many banks, especially larger institutions including Wells Fargo, for example, have stated that they will continue to process Paycheck Protection loans, pending additional funds from Congress.   AHC will continue to keep members informed of guidance and developments related to small business loans and other economic relief measures.  For a detailed overview of Paycheck Protection, go to the following link:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP%20–%20Overview.pdf.

Details:  Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

 

Survey COVID-19 Economic Impact on Equine Industry
___________________________________________

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 April 20, 2020, and depending on the pandemics length we will reissue each month to get up to date numbers and data.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AHCCOVID19Impact
Thank you. Be well and Be Safe. #HorseStrong
National resource database
available to help at-risk horses.

UHC has pushed up the release of its resource database questionnaire in the wake of COVID-19, in an effort to compile a listing of all known safety net programs available in the nation to help owners who are in need, as well as the rescues and sanctuaries that help them.  It is our hope, that by having one centrally located area to access these resources, we will help owners keep their horses from becoming at-risk during these trying times.

The brief questionnaire can be completed by going to our website here:  https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/resource-database/

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.

AHC Latest News- April 10,2020

0

The following is from the American Horse Council:

April 10, 2020 – Special Issue

Copyright © 2020 American Horse Council

Free webinar on COVID-19 Financial Assistance Options
for Horse Owners and Horse Businesses

If you or your business is struggling financially due to COVID-19 related layoffs, closings, or reduced business, join Extensionhorses.org and AHC to learn about some assistance options.

Ashley Harkins from the United Horse Coalition (UHC) provided an overview of  UHC and spoke about their resource database of safety net programs including rescues and hay banks for horse owners.

Bryan Brendle from the AHC described some pandemic-related federal assistance programs including unemployment assistance, federal tax rebates, and two small business loans made available by the CARES Act (the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan). He also discussed who qualifies and how to apply for each of these.

Watch Video here

AHC Annual Meeting Rescheduled
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached all facets of the equine industry including the AHC’s Annual Meeting & National Issues Forum originally scheduled for June 7-10, 2020.
Our host hotel has unfortunately had to furlough a number of staff, and informed us this week that they did not feel they would have adequate resources to address our needs in June.

Please note our new dates are October 25-28, 2020 at The Le Meridien in downtown Denver CO. A revised meeting schedule and agenda will be made available shortly.

 

Survey COVID-19 Economic Impact on Equine Industry

____________________________________________

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 April 20, 2020, and depending on the pandemics length we will reissue each month to get up to date numbers and data.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AHCCOVID19Impact
                                                              Thank you. Be well and Be Safe. #HorseStrong
National resource database
available to help at-risk horses.

UHC has pushed up the release of its resource database questionnaire in the wake of COVID-19, in an effort to compile a listing of all known safety net programs available in the nation to help owners who are in need, as well as the rescues and sanctuaries that help them.  It is our hope, that by having one centrally located area to access these resources, we will help owners keep their horses from becoming at-risk during these trying times.

The brief questionnaire can be completed by going to our website here:  https://unitedhorsecoalition.org/resource-database/

Two-Week Old CARES Act Unleashes Avalanche of Emergency Loan Applications

Since passage of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act two weeks ago, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has begun to implement one of the law’s signature provisions, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  As reported in a widely circulated edition of AHC’s Tax Bulletin , the CARES Act provides about $350 billion to help bridge payroll, rent and related expenses for small business, non-profits,  independent contractors and the self-employed.  The loans, capped at $10 million or two and one-half times an employer’s average monthly payroll – whichever sum is smaller – are available to a small business or 501(c)(3) or (19) nonprofit with not more than 500 employees.  The SBA is rolling out the program in two steps:  on Friday, April 3, the agency began to process applications from small business, sole proprietors, and 501(c)3 and (c)19 corporations.On April 10, the agency will officially extend the program to two new classes of potential borrowers; the self-employed; and independent contractors.  The expansion of the pool of eligible borrowers should benefit large segments of the horse industry, including veterinarians, farriers and trainers, among others.  Unlike other programs, the SBA will fully forgive any loan made pursuant to the PPP, so long as the borrower uses funds to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities.  Furthermore, federal regulators are requiring that borrowers use at least 75 percent of the loan amounts to cover payroll.  SBA is deferring any payments due pursuant to PPP loans for six months.   (Continued …)

The SBA is processing an unprecedented volume of applications, creating bottlenecks within the financial system and raising the possibility that the program could run dry in two or three weeks.  To help create efficiencies within the process, federal policymakers are considering two options:  allowing the Federal Reserve to step in and assist the SBA in disbursing loans directly to banks; and moving legislation that would allocate an additional $250 billion to the program, above the $350 billion authorized by the CARES Act.  While the Administration has authority to take immediate action to smooth implementation of Paycheck Protection, authorizing additional billions of dollars will require an act of Congress.  This is already proving problematic as lawmakers debate priorities for next steps for COVID-19 relief.

For a detailed overview of Paycheck Protection, go to the following link:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP%20–%20Overview.pdf.

Potential borrowers can find more information, including where to apply for loans, at the following link:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP–Fact-Sheet.pdf.  To view a copy of the three-page application, please click on the following link:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Application-3-30-2020-v3.pdf .

Details:  Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

AHC Webinar Series  Topics & Dates

Mark your calendars to attend or visit our website afterwards to hear the replay of these great guests speakers.

“Drones in the Equine Industry” with Allison I. Fultz, Attorney at Law

APRIL 27, 2020 at 1:00 PM

“From the Front Gate to the Back Fence – How to be your own CEO” with Cowboy Entrepreneur, Scott Knudsen

MAY 18, 2020 at 1:00 PM

“Sustainable Horse Farms – Why and How” with Jane Thery, President Green Horse Enterprises & John Blackburn of Blackburn Architecture.
DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED

To learn more, go to our website at www.horsecouncil.org. To register for any of the webinars, email AHC at info@horsecouncil.org .

NY Animal Import Center Update

As the federal government better understands the threat COVID19 presents, they continue to provided new updates. As of April 6, the New York Animal Import Center (NYAIC) resumed accepting reservations for import quarantine reservations. Reservations may be made to begin Monday, April 13, 2020. Also, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended its Emergency Declaration through May 15th. The declaration can be found here:  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/expanded-emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002-relating-covid-19  States are continuing to issue their own emergency declarations and it is recommended to check with your state departments of transportation for more information.

We need your help to ask Congress to include associations in the Paycheck Protection Program. The House and Senate are currently negotiating additional funding in response to COVID-19. While associations are included in some of the recently passed CARES Act’s programs , many associations are very concerned that trade and professional associations experiencing severe revenue losses during the current pandemic were excluded from the popular and beneficial Paycheck Protection Program.   Over 3,500 associations have signed onto a letter including AHC, AAEP, AQHA and others….

Tell Your Senators to Co-Sponsor the PAST Act!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

American Horse Council Action Alert

Tell Your Senators to Make History! Push PAST Act Over the Finish Line!

Before breaking for the August recess, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the Sen. Joseph Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2019 (H.R. 693) by a vote of 333 to 96.  In the wake of this historic vote, the horse industry is focusing efforts on the Senate, where there is an opportunity to gain a “super-majority” of cosponsors for the senate version of the bill (S. 1007), championed by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Take Action

 

Tell Congress to Pass Popular, Bipartisan Trails

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

American Horse Council Action Alert

Tell Congress to Pass Popular, Bipartisan Trails Bills!

As Congress returns for a final, “lame duck” session following the November 6 election, lawmakers have an opportunity to pass widely-supported, bipartisan legislation that promotes access to public lands for equine enthusiasts.   The horse industry seeks to push two major trails bills across the finish line: 

Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 6510/S. 3172) – The House Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to pass H.R. 6510, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, underscoring the bi-partisan support behind the bill.  The House bill currently has 209 cosponsors.  On the other side of the Capitol, Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) have joined 33 senate colleagues to give momentum to the Restore Our Parks Act of 2018 (S. 3172).  The Restore Our Parks Act (H.R. 6510/ S. 3172) will fund National Park Service trails maintenance projects by diverting energy development revenues to a new public lands restoration account.   

Recreation Not Red Tape (RNR) Act – Since House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced the RNR Act (H.R. 3400) in 2017, the chairman conducted a full committee hearing, resulting in passage of the legislation in April 2018.   House leadership has the discretion to schedule a vote on H.R. 3400 before the end of the year.  The legislation currently has 12 bipartisan co-sponsors.  On the Senate side, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a companion bill, S. 1633, which has won bipartisan co-sponsorships from Sens. Donnelly (D-IN), Ernst (R-IA), Tester (D-MT) and King (I-ME).  Although leadership has referred the bill to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, no hearings have been scheduled.

While the Restore Our Parks legislation has quickly gained significant support from lawmakers, the RNR Act has not gained as much traction.  To put more horsepower into the bill, urge your lawmakers to co-sponsor the RNR Act.  Please contact your lawmakers today, and urge them to pass these important bills before the end of the year.

Take Action

Support the AG and Legal Workforce Act!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

American Horse Council Action Alert

Tell Congress to Fix Horse Industry Labor Shortage, Support the AG and Legal Workforce Act!

As Congress moves closer to the August recess, House lawmakers have followed-up on a commitment to the horse industry to introduce legislation that focuses on labor shortages at race tracks, breeding farms, and horse shows, among other operations.  On July 18, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) joined 44 co-sponsors to introduce the AG and Legal Workforce Act of 2018 (H.R. 6417), legislation which remedies chronic labor shortages in American agriculture by creating a modern and flexible guest worker visa program.

Importantly for the horse industry, H.R. 6417 specifically states that workers involved in the management and training of horses will be eligible for the new visa program.  The bill would also replace the outdated and broken H-2A program with a reliable, efficient, and fair H-2C visa program, ensuring that agriculture has access to a legal, stable supply of workers for seasonal as well as year-round work.  To send a letter to your House lawmaker urging support for H.R. 6417, please click here:

Take Action

Tell Senators to Co-Sponsor Bi-Partisan PAST Act

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

American Horse Council Action Alert

Tell Senators to Co-Sponsor Bi-Partisan PAST Act of 2018!

Thanks to persistent advocacy focusing on your senators during the past several months, Sens. Crapo (R-ID) and Warner (D-VA) have led a bipartisan charge to re-introduce the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2018 (S. 2957).  Other original co-sponsors include Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT), Collins (R-ME), Daines (R-MT), Feinstein (D-CA), Markey (D-MA), McCaskill (D-MO), Moran (R-KS) and Toomey (R-PA).     

As you know, S. 2957 will strengthen the Horse Protection Act and finally end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses. The American Horse Council, along with most major national horse show organizations and state and local organizations, supports the PAST Act. We encourage you to send a letter to your senators urging them to sign on as co-sponsors and move this important bill forward!

Take Action

Put Morse Horsepower in the RNR Act

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

 American Horse Council Action Alert

Let’s Put More Horsepower Into the Recreation-Not-Red Tape (RNR) Act

As you know, Sen. Wyden (D-OR) has introduced S. 1633, the Recreation-Not-Red Tape (RNR) Act, underscoring the need to reduce regulations that prevent trail rides on public land.   With help from horsemen across the country, the House Natural Resources Committee has recently approved the House version of the bill (H.R. 3400) with strong, bipartisan support.  Now it’s time for the Senate to do its part and move this important legislation closer to the finish line.  Please contact your senators today, and urge them to cosponsor S. 1633, the RNR Act of 2017!

Take Action

 

 

New AHC Member Benefit!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

April 19, 2018

Your AHC Membership Comes With Another Benefit!


The AHC is continuously looking for ways to provide our members with additional services and resources. Today, we are excited to announce a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that welcomes you, through your existing membership with the AHC, as a new member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at no additional cost.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation and 96% of their members are small businesses like you. Through your membership with the U.S. Chamber, you will have access to the many valuable benefits designed specifically for small businesses, including toolkits, news and advocacy updates, and other products, services, and publications.

When you opt to participate in this 2-for-1 membership program, you’ll receive the benefits of U.S. Chamber membership, including:

  • Access to thousands of pages of small business how-to toolkits through USChamberSmallBusinessNation.com
  • Complimentary access to 500 legal documents and templates, online signature verification, and legal articles through Rocket Lawyer
  • A voice in Washington that represents your interests
  • The U.S. Chamber’s e-newsletter, FreeEnterprise Weekly, and monthly publication, Free Enterprise
  • Product and service discounts to affinity partners such as FedEx and Sam’s Club

Please contact the AHC at info@horsecouncil.org to retrieve your unique MemberID. Once you have done that, you can register for your account by visiting https://www.uschamber.com/user/register, where you will create your username and password.

We thank you for your support of the AHC, and hope that you enjoy your new member benefit!

AHC News-Spring 2018

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

 


To view this email as a web page, go here.

Spring 2018


Copyright © 2018 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.

Download a PDF of the AHC News

Lawmakers Boost Funds for Equine Assisted Therapy
Buried in the text of the 2,232 page omnibus spending bill enacted in late March, Congress included a provision to increase funds available for equine-assisted therapy by $1 million in FY2018. 
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House Lawmakers Deliver Horse Industry Priorities in 2018 Farm Bill

Following a weeks-long standoff over work requirements for supplemental nutrition assistance plan (SNAP) benefits, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) released the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) on April 12.

  

Read More
National Parks Hike Entrance Fees

The National Park Service (NPS)  announced a new entrance fee structure intended to raise money to repair the nation’s aging park infrastructure, which includes a maintenance backlog of $11.6 billion.

Read More
AHC Participates in USDA-APHIS Stakeholders Meeting

Every year the AHC is invited to participate in a stakeholder meeting with the Administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). 

Read More
Registration Open for AHC’s Annual Meeting & National Issues Forum

Registration is now open for the American Horse Council’s (AHC) 2018 Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum.

Read More

AHC Staff Attends National Endangered Equine Summit

In February, AHC staff attended The Livestock Conservancy’s (TLC) first National Endangered Equine Summit.

AHC’s 2nd Quarter Webinar Topic Announced

The topics for the AHC’s 2nd quarter webinar for 2018 will be Microchipping. The webinar will take place on Monday, May 14th at 3:00 pm ET.

Read More
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Help the UHC Prevent Unwanted HorsesThe mission of the American Horse Council Foundation’s (AHCF) Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) is to reduce the number of unwanted horses and to improve their welfare through education and industry collaboration. Of course, one of the best way to reduce the number of unwanted horses is to prevent unwanted breeding.

Read More


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Join the AHC for our 2nd Quarter Webinar

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

April 11, 2018

Join the AHC for our 2nd Quarter Webinar

The AHC is pleased to announce that the topic for its 2nd quarter webinar for 2018 will be Microchipping. The webinar will take place on Monday, May 14th at 3:00 pm ET.

Presenting will be Angela Pelzel-McCluskey, DVM, MS from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), TC Lane from the United States Trotting Association (USTA), and Ashley Furst, Director of the Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC).

Dr. McCluskey is an Equine Epidemiologist for USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services, and will present on the “Traceability of Equine Microchips” and demonstrate some of the successes and challenges encountered when a horse with a chip is found and efforts are made to try to trace that chip to figure out who the horse is.

TC Lane is the Director of Registry and Member Services for the USTA, and will be presenting a new microchipping requirement that the USTA will be putting into place where in 2019 all foals will be required to be implanted with a microchip. The microchips would replace freeze brands and lip tattoos as means of identification for Standardbreds.

Finally, UHC Director Ashley Furst will discuss the new program “Operation Chip” introduced in January 2018. The program currently provides free microchips and registration of that microchip to stallions getting gelded through the Operation Gelding program.

The webinar is open to both AHC members and non-members—we encourage everyone to attend! To register for the webinar, please click here. The webinar lasts approximately one hour, and will allow for Q&A at the end of each speaker’s presentation. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Furst at afurst@horsecouncil.org. We look forward to having you join us for our 2nd quarter webinar!

Register for the Webinar

Registration Open for AHC’s Annual Meeting

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

March 28, 2018

Registration Open for AHC’s Annual Meeting

Registration is now open for the AHC’s 2018 Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum.  Registration information, along with a tentative schedule is available on the AHC Website here: http://www.horsecouncil.org/events/ahc-annual-meeting-national-issues-forum-2/.

The theme of the National Issues Forum will be “Let’s Capitalize On It!” and will focus on ways the equine industry can learn and grow from both equine and outside industry segments as well as expanding technology beneficial to both humans and equines.

The Forum will kick off Tuesday with speaker Luis Benitez, Director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, where he will give an overview of his roles and responsibilities, as well as explain how other states could adopt a similar model. Following Mr. Benitez will be a panel titled “Survey Says” and will examine various data trends within the equine industry over the past several years.  The morning will also include a youth engagement panel, “Building the pipeline of future horse enthusiasts,” and will feature representatives from the PGA “First Tee” program and the Outdoor Industry Association’s “Outdoor Nation.”

The afternoon session will start with Dan Ashe, President and CEO of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). AZA is a nonprofit association dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation. Noted author and journalist Fran Jurga will also be speaking on emerging technologies in the equine industry.  Also speaking will be Anne Poulson, Dr. Yuval Neria and Dr. Prudence Fisher from the Man ‘o War Project and Columbia University Medical Center presenting their methodology and findings from their clinical research to determine the effectiveness of EAAT on military veterans suffering from PTSD. Also include panels of Congressional representatives, and equine aftercare, followed by round table discussion on topics of interests.

New this year, vendors will be set up to provide live demonstrations of emerging technologies including health monitoring sensors for horses and virtual reality demonstrations.

The AHC’s Annual Meeting will take place Sunday, June 10th – Wednesday, June 13th. Sunday and Monday various committees of the AHC will meet. The Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum will take place on Tuesday and are open to both AHC members and non-members- we encourage anyone involved in the equine industry to attend to learn about new developments and how they can become involved!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the AHC at info@horsecouncil.org or 202.296.4031.

Read on AHC Website

 

Congress Delivers H-2B Visa Cap Relief, ELD Flexibility in Omnibus Bill

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

March 23, 2018

Congress Delivers H-2B Visa “Cap Relief,” ELD Flexibility in Omnibus Bill

Shortly after 12:30 am, on Friday, March 23, Congress approved a massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 to fund federal government operations through September 30.  The 2,232 page bill includes several regulatory measures that will provide flexibility for the horse industry, most notably H-2B visa cap relief for seasonal, guest workers and a temporary enforcement exemption for the transportation of livestock from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations.  The legislation also includes policy “riders” to defund Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that will impact the equine sector and broader agriculture economy.

Lawmakers Raise the Ceiling on H-2B Guest-Worker Visas

Despite opposition from a large number of lawmakers from both political parties, the horse industry and its allies persuaded Congress to effectively raise the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cap on H-2B temporary worker visas from the current cap of 66,000 to 129,500 visas for FY2018.   A provision tying the number of H-2B visas to a number not to exceed the maximum number of participants from the returning worker program in a previous year has effectively doubled the number of visas the agency may issue in 2018.  Because of the fast approaching seasonal labor needs for breeding farms, race tracks, and other seasonal employers, AHC and its partners are urging DHS to implement the flexibility measures as quickly as possible to mitigate paperwork bottlenecks during the remainder of the year.  Other key H-2B provisions include acceptance of private wage surveys to determine “prevailing wage” requirements, and language that defines “seasonal need” as a 10-month period within the context of the program.  The coalition has already begun to focus efforts on creating permanent cap relief in future legislative vehicles.  This would decouple the H-2B visa issue from the annual appropriations process and create an environment of investment certainty.

Congress Delays ELD Enforcement for Livestock to September 30

On the heels of the DOT’s March 13 issuance of an additional 90-day exemption from ELD enforcement requirements for livestock, the bill includes a provision that would defund enforcement to at least September 30, which is the official end of the fiscal year.  The delay will provide DOT and industry stakeholders more time to educate livestock haulers on the proper scope of the ELD mandate, which has caused uncertainty since being finalized in late 2015.  Furthermore, industry’s September 2017 request to push back the compliance deadline by a full year is still outstanding, leaving the possibility of another enforcement delay for livestock.

Lawmakers Fully Fund Tax Law Implementation, Defund Horse Slaughter Inspections, EPA Ag Emission and Reporting Rules  

In a rare move to increase resources for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Congress appropriated an additional $320 million through September 2019 for the nation’s tax collectors to help assure a smooth implementation of the 2017 tax law.  The omnibus also includes a rider that bans funding of USDA personnel to inspect horses prior to slaughter, a provision which lawmakers have renewed within multiple spending bills during previous years to effectively shut down horse slaughter in the U.S.  On the EPA front, the bill also defunds enforcement of rules that would do the following:

  • Mandate the reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from decomposing animal waste located on farms;
  • And reporting air emissions from farms resulting from hazardous substances, pursuant to the nation’s Superfund law.

AHC will deliver updates on more details within the 2018 omnibus spending package that impact the horse industry as they emerge.  To view a copy of the 2232 page bill, please click here:  http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180319/BILLS-115SAHR1625-RCP115-66.pdf.  If you have questions about FY2018 appropriations, please contact Bryan Brendle, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

Read on AHC Website

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