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Passage of Equine Therapy Amendment Includes Increased Support for America’s Veterans

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

Prior to adjourning for the August recess, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act” (H.R. 3219) offered by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), a bill that will increase equine therapy funding for veterans by $5 million during FY2018.  In a statement released Friday, July 28, Congressman Barr expressed his pleasure over passage of the defense spending legislation.  He stated that he is “particularly pleased that the final bill … expands the availability of evidence-based equine treatment for veterans who have suffered trauma while serving our country.”

Before the equine therapy provision becomes law, House and Senate lawmakers must convene a “conference” to negotiate final legislation for a vote in both chambers, and present the bill to the President for his signature.  Because the House will not return to Washington until September 5, Congress will not be able to negotiate a final bill until the fall. Although the Senate currently plans to remain in session through August 11, their agenda remains uncertain.  Following failure of healthcare legislation last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has identified Federal Drug Administration (FDA) funding, Department of Defense (DOD) authorization legislation, and federal appointments as priorities for the next two weeks.  Congress must pass final spending bills, or a continuing resolution, prior to the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.

To view a copy of Rep. Barr’s statement related to the equine therapy amendment, please see the following link: https://barr.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/barr-votes-to-enhance-national-security. If you would like more information about this bill or related issues in Congress, please contact Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.orgor 202-296-4031.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Vote on Horse Slaughter Defunding

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

The Senate Committee on Appropriations voted July 20 in favor of an amendment offered by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to defund the USDA’s inspection of horse slaughter, a renewal of what was effectively a ban on the practice.

Today’s vote for the Udall-Graham Amendment means the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Bill may move forward with language limiting USDA action in the inspection of animals, facilities or products associated with horse slaughter.  On July 12, however, the House Appropriations Committee voted against a similar amendment that would defund USDA inspection of horse slaughter, setting the stage for possible negotiations on the final spending bill.

Horse slaughter plants in the United States were closed in 2007 when funding for USDA inspection was halted through the appropriations approval process. Horse slaughter inspections will remain unfunded through September 30, 2017, when the current fiscal year will end. Further information will be available when approval for the FY18 Appropriations are finalized.

The American Horse Council has not taken a position on horse slaughter as the equine industry remains divided on this issue. Please contact the American Horse Council for further information.

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Topic and Speakers Announced for Third Quarter Webinar

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

The AHC is pleased to announce the topics and speakers for its 3rd Quarter webinar, which will take place Monday, August 21st at 3:00 pm ET.

“Cantering Towards a Worker Shortage?” will be the focus of the webinar, and will feature speakers on both H2A and H2B visas, as well as insight from a trainer deeply involved in the thoroughbred racing industry and why the H2B visa are so important to him and his operation.

Horse industry employers have for many years found it difficult to recruit American workers to fill jobs. For this reason, American immigration policy has been a major concern of the horse industry and the AHC has worked to ensure the H-2B non-agricultural and H-2A agricultural temporary foreign worker programs are a viable option for the industry. The AHC felt it was important to provide more insight as to why the industry relies on these visas.

Eclipse Award winning trainer Dale Romans of Romans Racing will lead off the webinar and provide insight as to why the H2B program is so important to the well-being of his business, the thoroughbred racing industry and the equine industry as whole. A licensed trainer since age 18, Mr. Romans began working in his father’s stable (renowned trainer Jerry Romans) from the time he could walk. Dale is an active advocate for the sport serving/having served in volunteer leadership positions of various industry organizations, including the Kentucky HBPA; Churchill Backside Health & Welfare Fund; Churchill Downs Racing Committee; and the Gulfstream Park Racing Committee.

Glen M. Krebs of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP of Lexington, KY, will focus on the industry’s use of H2A Visas. Mr. Krebs is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Service Team, and concentrates his practice in International and Immigration law. Mr. Krebs has spoken extensively on the subject of Immigration Law and was contributing author to “Legal Aspects of Horse Farm Operations” (4th ed. 2014), University of Kentucky College of Law, Office of Continuing Legal Education.

Lisa L. Galliath of LLG Attorney at Law will speak on the industry’s use of the H2B Visa. Ms. Galliath assists individuals, professionals, and businesses with U.S. immigration issues and question, as well as specializing in representing equestrian professionals in all disciplines. She has extensive experience and knowledge of the equine industry, and her firm provides legal services to many clients based in equestrian centers in Florida and California.

The webinar is open to both AHC members and non-members—we encourage everyone to attend! To register for the webinar, please click here. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Furst at afurst@horsecouncil.org. We look forward to having you join us for our third quarter webinar!

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Extra H-2B Visas Made Available

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

U.S. businesses will be able to hire up to 15,000 additional temporary nonagricultural workers under the H-2B program following a final rule that the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor submitted to the Federal Register this week. To qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017. It was determined there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers are available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.

Congress gave Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly the discretionary authority to address the lack of available temporary workers and provide this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap. H-2B visas are used for temporary, non-agriculture workers at a variety of businesses, including racetrack grooms and handlers. The government offers 66,000 such visas a year, with the 2017 cap having been met within the first 30 days of open enrollment. This left many organizations without access to the critical labor pool provided by the H-2B program.

Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can fileForm I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA with their petition. A new tip line to report general H-2B abuse and employer violations has also been established.

Details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the final rule and on theOne-Time Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2017. This page also includes information on how individuals can report abuse in the program.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.gov.

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House Ag Appropriations Committee Vote on Horse Slaughter Defunding

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations voted July 12 against an amendment that Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) had offered to defund the USDA’s inspection of horse slaughter, a renewal of what was effectively a ban on the practice.

Wednesday’s vote against the Roybal-Allard/Dent amendment means the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Bill may move forward without any language limiting USDA action in the inspection of animals, facilities or products associated with horse slaughter. The Senate has yet to hold their full committee markup, and both bills must be accepted by the full House and Senate before the USDA could begin inspections for 2018.

Horse slaughter plants in the United States were closed in 2007 when funding for USDA inspection was halted through the appropriations approval process. Horse slaughter inspections will remain unfunded through September 30, 2017, when the current fiscal year will end. Further information will be available when voting for the FY18 Appropriations are finalized.

The American Horse Council has not taken a position on horse slaughter as the equine industry remains divided on this issue. Please contact the American Horse Council for further information.

Read on AHC Website

AHC Committees Meet During Annual Meeting

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

The American Horse Council (AHC) held its Annual Meeting on June 11, 2017, where all five of the AHC’s standing committees met: Animal Welfare, Health & Regulatory, Horse Show, Racing Advisory, and Recreation.

The AHC would like to thank everyone that attended the commitee meetings, and hopes that the topics and discussions held were useful and informative. We hope to see everyone there again next year!

To read the recaps of each committee meeting, please click below.

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USDA Provides Horse Protection Act Progress Report

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

On June 29, 2017 Bernadette Juarez, Deputy Administrator of APHIS-Animal Care, released an open letter to the management of horse shows, exhibitions, sales, as well as Horse Industry Organizations and Associations (HIOs), and the owners, trainers, exhibitors, and custodians of horses engaged in Horse Protection Act (HPA) covered activities.

In it she provides a progress report on the efforts to strengthen the HPA inspection program, their working relationship with the industry, and HPA enforcement. She applauded the HIOs that have made refinements to their processes to achieve their new standards, including the updated inspection guidance intended to promote consistency throughout the entire industry. That inspection guidance was posted on their website, found here, along with videos that depict the inspection process.

She ended her letter by acknowledging that “A consistent and thorough inspection process coupled with management’s commitment to fulfilling its responsibilities under the HPA are essential for ensuring exhibitors have clear expectations and can confidently present horses for inspection and participate in HPA-covered events.”

On March 30, 2017, Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) re- introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2015 (HR 1847) (PAST act) in the House of Representatives.   The bill is intended to strengthen the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and prevent the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses.  The bill is supported by the American Horse Council and most national horse show organizations. The AHC urges all members of the horse industry to contact their Representative and ask them to support the bill and become a co-sponsor.

For more information on the Horse Protection Act and the practices used to enforce it, please visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/SA_HPA.

The complete letter can be read here. Please contact the American Horse Council with any further questions regarding the HPA or the PAST Act.

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AHC’s National Issues Forum Provides Different Perspectives

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

The American Horse Council (AHC) National Issues Forum, sponsored by Luitpold Animal Health, on June 12th provided a wealth of information and ideas from different perspectives on how we can grow the industry and continue to work together. Attendees were treated to insights ranging from cutting-edge research to help our equine athletes, to how we can encourage the next generation to get involved, as well as how tradition, continuity, and innovation can work together for the benefit of the industry in moving forward.

The Morning Session kicked off with keynote speaker Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association who spoke about several initiatives the travel industry has undertaken the past few years to increase tourism and travel within and to the United States. For example, a Visa Waiver Program that allows residents of allied countries to be pre-screened before entry and are given visa-free travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days. Most notably though, was the creation of a Global Meetings Industry Day that showcases the impact that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions have on people, business and communities.

“Staying focused, finding things you can work on together, and speaking with one voice are critical to ensuring the success and longevity of any industry,” Mr. Dow closed with.

To read the recap of the National Issues Forum in its entirety, please click below.

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Extra H2B Visas to be Made Available

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

There have been reports this week that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has decided to offer extra H2B visas for temporary, seasonal workers. These visas are used for temporary, non-agriculture workers at a variety of businesses, including members of the horse industry; principally horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities.

The government offers 66,000 such visas a year, with the 2017 cap having been met within the first 30 days of open enrollment. This left many organizations without access to the critical labor pool provided by the H-2B program. Trainers at racetracks around the country have reported difficulties in filling staff positions.

The extra visas will be available to employers that show they’d be significantly harmed if they aren’t able to temporarily hire foreign workers. DHS hasn’t decided how many visas will be offered but that number should be set soon. The department expects to start issuing visas as soon as late July.

If you have any questions, please contact the AHC.

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When it comes to your mares, trust Regu-Mate

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

 

 

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Racing Medication Bill Introduced

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

 

Today, the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2651) was introduced by Representatives Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY).  The bill would create a new Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Authority and uniform racing medication rules.  Representatives Barr and Tonko had previously introduced a racing medication bill that only applied to Thoroughbred horseracing. The recently introduced bill, while similar to the previous bill, has several key differences.   Most notably the new bill would apply to Quarter Horse and Standardbred races as well, not only Thoroughbred races and prohibits the use of any substance within 24 hours of a race.

The AHC is continuing to review the bill to determine its impact on the horse racing industry and taken has no position on this legislation.

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H-2B Cap Relief to Be Part of Spending Bill

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

 

Congress has reached a tentative agreement on a bill to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017.  Importantly, the bill contains limited H-2B cap relief and other H-2B provisions beneficial to users of the program like the horse industry.

The H-2B program is used by members of the horse industry, principally horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities.

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Efforts to Eliminate Soaring Continue

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

 

Eliminating soring in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry has broad support in the horse industry and has been a priority of the American Horse Council (AHC) for the last several years.  The focus of these efforts for several years has been passage of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act or PAST Act in Congress. Additionally, last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) also began promulgating new regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), intended to strength regulations against soring.  President Trump’s government-wide freeze on all new federal regulations pending review has put an indefinite hold on these new HPA regulations.  Now many in the horse industry are wondering what is status of these efforts to eliminate soring.

“The AHC continues to be committed to ending soring in the walking horse industry and believes it will take federal action either by Congress or USDA to end this cruel practice,” said Julie  Broadway AHC president. “The ‘big lick’ segment of the walking horse industry has had over 45 years to address this issue and it remains a problem.”

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Immigration and the Horse Industry

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The Following is from the American Horse Council:

It is no secret that many of the workers on the backstretch at race tracks, on breeding farms and at horse shows are foreign born. Horse industry employers have for many years found it difficult to recruit American workers to fill these jobs.  For this reason, American immigration policy has been a major concern of the horse industry and the American Horse Council has worked to ensure the H-2B non-agricultural and H-2A agricultural temporary foreign worker programs are a viable option for the industry. However, new pressures threaten the ability of the horse industry to hire these vital workers.

“The industry has had long-standing problems recruiting workers to fill jobs helping to raise, train, and care for the industry’s horses. This was the case even during the recent recession when unemployment reached 10%,” said AHC Sr. VP, Policy and Legislative Affairs, Ben Pendergrass. “Now that the economy has recovered and unemployment has fallen to around 4.7% finding workers has become especially challenging, this and other factors have made it more vital than ever for Congress to take action to improve the inadequate current guest worker programs.

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Survey

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

 

Horses in all segments of the equine industry are regularly transported both intrastate and interstate for a variety of purposes, both by individuals and businesses.   The ability to move horses easily for competition, breeding, sale, and recreation is of vital importance to the economic health of the industry.

In order to ensure the American Horse Council has a better understanding of how enforcement of federal motor carrier safety regulations are impacting the industry, we request all members of the horse industry take the following short survey. The survey is anonymous and the results will be used solely for informational purposes.

If you are an equine organization we ask that you please distribute this survey to your membership.

The survey will remain open until May 20th. If you have any questions, please contact the AHC.

Take the Survey

AHC Urges Horse Community to Take Part in USDA Agricultural Census

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is preparing to conduct its 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. Horses will be included in the Census.  Every five years, USDA-NASS conducts an agriculture census to determine the number of U.S. farms and ranches and gather vital information about U.S agriculture, including the horse community. The census is a valuable tool to help the USDA determine land use and ownership, livestock populations, operator characteristics, production practices, farm income as well as other important information.

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AHC Update: Register for the AHC’s Annual Meeting

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The following is an update from the American Horse Council:

Registration is open for the AHC’s 2017 Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum.  Registration information, along with a tentative schedule and link to make room reservations is available on the AHC website Events tab.

New this year, the AHC is offering discounted registration for those who register before April 15th– so be sure to register as soon as possible! 

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AHC Update: Legislation to Eliminate Soring Introduced in the House

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

On March 30, 2017, Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) re- introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2015 (HR 1847) (PAST act) in the House of Representatives.   The bill is intended to strengthen the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and prevent the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses.  The bill is identical to the bill introduced last Congress and is supported by the American Horse Council and most national horse show organizations.

Soring is an abusive practice used by some to train Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses. It usually involves the use of action devices, chemicals, pads, wedges or other practices to cause pain in the horse’s forelegs and produce an accentuated show gait for competition.  Despite the existence of a federal ban on soring for over forty years, this cruel practice continues in some segments of the walking horse industry.

The PAST act would amend the HPA to prohibit a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Racking Horse, or a Spotted Saddle Horse from being shown, exhibited, or auctioned with an “action device,” or “a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band or other device or material” if it is constructed to artificially alter the gait of the horse and is not strictly protective or therapeutic.  These new prohibitions would not apply to other breeds that do not have a history of soring.

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AHC Update: Equine Tax Bills Introduced

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

On March 30, 2017 Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) re-introduced the Race Horse Cost Recovery Act (H.R. 1804) and theEquine Tax Parity Act (H.R. 1805) . The Race Horse Cost Recovery Act would permanently place all race horses in the three-year category for tax depreciation purposes.  A 2008 provision that temporarily put race horses in the three year category expired at the end of 2016.  The Equine Tax Parity Act would make horses eligible for capital gains treatment after 12 months, rather than 24, similar to other business assets. The American Horse Council supports both of these bills.

Congressman Barr also introduced the Race Horse Expensing Certainty Act (H.R. 1806), the bill would provide extra clarity that racehorses are eligible for the Section 179 business expense deduction.  All horses purchased and placed in service by a business are currently eligible for the Section 179 deduction and the bill would not change this.

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AHC Update: AHC Comments on IRS Proposed Changes to Pari-Mutuel Wagering

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

Today, the AHC submitted comments in support of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) proposed rule regarding withholding requirements on pari-mutuel winnings. The proposed rule would make changes to withholding requirements that more accurately reflect

the current state of wagering in the horse racing industry.  The rule, if made final, will be of great benefit to horse players and the racing industry.

Specifically, the proposed rule would define “amount of the wager” as the total amount wagered by a bettor into a specific pari-mutuel pool on a single ticket for purposes of determining whether wagering proceeds are subject to 25% withholding on winnings of $5,000 or more and are at least 300 times as large as the amount wagered. 

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