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Trump Administration to Rollback Clean Water Act Rule

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) issued a new regulation to redefine “Waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Trump administration has announced it will instruct the EPA and the Corps to review and reconsider the 2015 rule known as the Waters of the United States rule or WOTUS. The rule was opposed by the American Horse Council (AHC) and other agricultural groups.

The CWA regulates discharges of pollutants into navigable rivers and lakes, collectively known as “Waters of the U.S.” The 2015 rule redefined “Waters of the U.S.,” in a manner that significantly expanded the waters subject to the requirements of the CWA. The CWA includes exemptions for agriculture, however the AHC and other agricultural groups had serious concerns regarding the 2015 rule and the AHC believed it could negatively impact horse farms, ranches and racetracks in all parts of the country.

During the original comment period, the AHC asked the EPA and Corp to withdrawal the rule in its entirety and supported Congressional efforts to block the rule.  The AHC supports the decision to review and reconsider the 2015 rule.

If you have any questions, please contact the AHC at info@horsecouncil.org

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC Update: Save the Date for the AHC’s Annual Meeting & National Issues Forum

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

Where can you find people involved in every segment of the equine world working together to advance our industry? How can you find out what projects and initiatives are being worked on in every corner of the equine industry?

The answer: the American Horse Council’s (AHC) Annual Meeting & National Issues Forum, sponsored by Luitpold Animal Health! Save the Date on your calendars forJune 11-14, 2017 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC.

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FINAL Reminder- We Want to Hear From YOU!

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

If you have already taken our strategic planning survey, thank you very much! We know you are busy, as we appreciate the time you took to give us your feedback. As such, you may disregard this email.

This is a FINAL reminder that we would greatly appreciate 15 minutes of your time to complete a survey to aid in the American Horse Council’s upcoming Strategic Planning  workshop.   The information gathered in this survey will be used by the board and leadership to help identify key focus areas and priorities.

Please note, responses are completely confidential and will not be linked back to any individual. All responses are due back by Monday, February 20th. We appreciate your time, feedback and insights!

If you have any questions, please contact the AHC at info@horsecouncil.org

 

Final Horse Protection Act Regulations on Hold

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

Recently, President Trump ordered a government wide freeze on all new federal regulations pending review. This order has put an indefinite hold on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) final regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA).

On January 13, 2017, USDA announced a final HPA rule.   However, the final rule was not published in the Federal Register before President Trump issued his order to all federal agencies to withdrawal all regulations that had not yet been published pending review. The final rule would have made several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring.

It will now be up to the Trump administration to decide whether or not to finalize the HPA rule. There is no timeline for review of the rule and the new administration could decide to issue a final rule at any time or withdrawal the rule completely. The HPA enforcement program will continue to operate under the current HPA regulations.

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

Speakers For First Quarter Webinar Announced

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

On February 13th at 3:00 pm ET, the American Horse Council will host its first quarterly webinar for 2017. The topic will be “Climate Change and Equines.”

“While the cause of climate change is of course a debated subject, there is no debate that climate change effects animals, sometimes drastically,” said AHC President Julie Broadway. “We wanted to educate people on understanding how your horses may be effected by these climate changes, and how you can be better prepared to keep your horses safe and comfortable with these changes.”

David Herring, Director of Communication & Education at the NOAA Climate Program Office will be the featured speaker. Mr. Herring will discuss how they see changes in the weather affecting not only horses themselves, but also the areas in which they live, show, and are ridden. “Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and record-breaking snow and rain have devastated farms around the country recently,” said Mr. Herring. “We want people to be aware of how these potential changes in the climate can drastically affect their animals and their well-being.”

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AHC Update: USDA Announces Final Horse Protection Act Rule

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced final regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA was passed in 1970 to stop the cruel practice of “soring” horses that was occurring in some sectors of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry.

The final rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring. The AHC is currently reviewing the details of the final rule to determine its impact on the horse industry. However, USDA seems to have made several modifications and clarifications to the final rule in accord with the comments submitted by the AHC and others.  AHC comments can be found here.

Importantly, the USDA has made changes to the final rule that address horse industry concerns had regarding the proposed rule release last summer.  These changes include explicitly limited new prohibitions on pads, wedges, and action devices to “Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses,” and removal of all references to “related breeds that performs with an accentuated gait that raises concerns about soring.” Additionally, USDA has adopted several proposals to make the rule less burdensome for smaller “flat shod” walking horse shows.  USDA also has clarified that certain reporting and record keeping requirements apply only to “Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse shows.”

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AHC Update: NAHMS Equine Health Study 2015 Released

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) released the first report from its Equine 2015 study, the Baseline Reference of Equine Health and Management in the United States 2015. The study was postponed because of 2015’s highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak.

Equine 2015 was conducted in 28 states, chosen for study participation based, in part, on the size or density of the states’ equine population. Data collected for the study represented 71.6 percent of equids and 70.9 percent of U.S. operations with five or more equids. This report shares data collected in regards to population estimates, equid health management and healthcare events, disease testing, farm biosecurity protocols, and transportation.

The Equine 2015 Study was designed to provide participants, industry, and animal-health officials with information on the nation’s equine population that will serve as a basis for education, service, and research related to equine health and management, while providing the industry with information regarding trends in the industry for 1998, 2005 and 2015/2016.

The Baseline Reference of Equine Health and Management in the United States for 2015 can be found at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/equine/downloads/equine15/Eq2015_Rept1.pdf

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC Update: Safeguard American Food Exports Act Re-Introduced

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 113) has been re-introduced by Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The bill is identical to legislation introduced last Congress and similar to other earlier bills that would in effect prohibit the slaughter of horses in the U.S. and the export of horses for slaughter.

This bill cites health concerns as the primary rationale to prohibit the sale or export of horses or horsemeat for human consumption, because they are frequently treated with drugs that pose a serious threat to human health if eaten.  The bill would make it illegal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to knowingly sell or transport horses or parts of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Agriculture.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC Update: Three-Year Depreciation of Race Horses Not Extended to 2017

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has published a proposed rule regarding withholding requirements on pari-mutuel winnings. The proposed rule would make changes to withholding requirements that are more accurate and reflect the current state of wagering in the horse racing industry.  These changes, 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.

Currently, the IRS does not recognize the total amount wagered on an exotic bet with “boxes,” “wheels,” and “keys,” when determining whether the 300:1 ratio has been met and 25% withholding is triggered, only the  cost of the individual winning bet.  This greatly increases the number of winning bets that are subject to withholding and does not accurately reflect the actual amount bet and the actual amount won.

The American Horse Council and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association have requested the IRS make the proposed change for many years.

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AHC Update: Three-Year Depreciation of Race Horses Not Extended to 2017

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

In recent years, Congress has typically passed a tax extender bill to renew dozens of temporary or expiring tax provisions for individuals and businesses at the end of the year.  One of these typically extend provisions was three-year depreciation of race horses.  However, Congress has adjourned for the year without taking any action on a tax extender bill, allowing three-year deprecation of race horses and dozens of other tax provisions to expire.

From 2009 through 2016 all race horses could be depreciated over three years, regardless of when they were placed in service.  This provision was passed in 2008 as part of a Farm Bill.  The change, which eliminated the 7-year depreciation period for race horses and made all race horses eligible for three-year depreciation, expires at the end of 2016. Beginning in 2017, the pre-2009 rules will have to be used, meaning owners will have to decide whether to place a race horses in service at the end of its yearling year and depreciate it over 7 years or wait until it is over 2 (24 months and a day after foaling) and depreciate it over three years.

Congress took no action on a tax extenders bill because they hope to enact major tax reform legislation in the next Congress that would eliminate the need for many of the expiring provisions. Failure to pass the tax extender bill was not due to opposition to the three-year depreciation of race horses or any other specific tax provision.

The AHC will be closely monitoring the development of a tax reform bill and analyzing its potential impact on the horse industry.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC to Offer Student Internships Starting in 2017!

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

In 2017, the American Horse Council (AHC) will begin offering three different internship programs available to both high school and college students. Students will be eligible to apply to one internship per year in the AHC Internship Program.

Also starting in 2017 is the addition of a Student Membership to the AHC Membership categories.  The AHC felt it was important to continue the trend of being able to educate youth of the importance of the AHC in order to ensure the industry’s long-term sustainability. The internship opportunities being offered in 2017 are another way for students to understand exactly what it is the AHC does here in Washington, DC, and educate the next generation to advocate on behalf of the industry at the local, state or national level.

The three internships available are:

  • 1 or 2 week shadowing program to gain a broader understanding of the AHC with a focus on expanding knowledge of equine industry and policymaking. Transportation and housing not included; stipend of $250 available to offset expenses. Open to high school and college students.
  • 1 or 2 month internship- includes overview of AHC, student would conduct a research project and write a white paper on a specific topic of interest for academic credit. Transportation and housing not included; stipend of $500/month available to offset expenses. Open to college students.
  • Semester internship- includes overview of AHC, research project and white paper for academic credit and attendance at annual AHC meeting. Transportation and housing not included; Stipend of $500/month available to offset expenses. Open to college students.

The AHC’s encourages those that apply for the internships to also join at the Student membership level in order to get a fully rewarding experience.  Students will be able to see the relationship between the work that the AHC does daily, and the ensuing information that gets shared with AHC members.

Please visit the AHC website for more details and to download the application form. If you have any questions, or would like more information about the internship program, please contact the AHC at  info@horsecouncil.org

Click Here To Visit The AHC Website

AHC Update: Congress Set to Pass Bill to Fund Government

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AHC

The following is an update from the American Horse Council.

This week Congress set to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide funding for the government until April 28, 2017.  The CR is an extension of last year’s omnibus appropriations bill that originally expired September 30, but was extended to December 9th.

Congress normally should debate and approve several separate appropriation bills for each federal agency including those important to the horse industry like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior.  However, Congress was unable to pass any individual FY 2017 appropriations bills.

The CR maintains current funding levels for all government agencies and programs including USDA, which is responsible for responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks and enforcing the Horse Protection Act. The CR also extends the language that prohibits USDA from using any funds to provide inspectors at meat processing facilities that slaughter horses, continuing a policy that began in 2005, except for a brief period in 2012 and 2013. No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S. and this CR would prevent any such facility from opening until April 28, 2017.

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AHC UPDATE: Congress Passes National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act

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AHC

The following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

Today, the Senate passed the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 (H.R.845 S.1110). This follows House passage of the bill earlier this fall.  The bill, introduced by Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tim Walz (D-MN) and Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), would direct the Forest Service to take several actions to help address the current trail maintenance backlog that is adversely impacting all trail users on many National Forests, including equestrians.

The American Horse Council, Backcountry Horsemen of America, and the Wilderness Society were significantly involved in the creation and passage of this bill.

The AHC is pleased Congress has approved this important legislation.  The AHC would like to thank Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tim Walz (D-MN) and Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) for their leadership and work to pass this bill.

The bill directs the Forest Service to develop a strategy to more effectively utilize volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails.  It will also provide outfitters and guides the ability to perform trail maintenance activities in lieu of permit fees.   Additionally, the bill will address a liability issue that has discouraged some national forests from utilizing volunteers and partner organizations to help perform trail maintenance and will direct the Forest Service to identify and prioritize specific areas with the greatest need for trail maintenance in the national forest system.

In the current fiscal environment it is unlikely Congress will appropriate additional funds to directly address the trail maintenance backlog. This bill will help improve trail maintenance without the need for additional funding.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future.

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC: Final Reminder!

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The following is an announcement from the American Horse Council in Washington.

AHC

The webinar is open to both AHC members and non-members-we encourage everyone to attend, and to share this email with anyone you think may be interested! 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 the first of our quarterly webinars!

House of Representatives Passes National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act

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This is an AHC Washington Update courtesy of the American Horse Council.

AHCThe House of Representatives passed the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 (H.R.845). The bill, introduced by Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN), would direct the Forest Service to take several actions to help address the current trail maintenance backlog that is adversely impacting all trail users on many national forests, including equestrians.  The American Horse Council, Backcountry Horsemen of America, and the Wilderness Society were significantly involved in the creation of this bill.

The AHC strongly supports the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 and is pleased the House has approved this important legislation.

A June 2013, study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Forest Service has deferred trail maintenance needs that exceed half-billion dollars, and only one-quarter of the agency’s 158,000 miles of trails meets agency standards for maintenance. This maintenance backlog is causing access and safety issues for equestrians and all trail users on national forests.

The National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act would direct the Forest Service to develop a strategy to more effectively utilize volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails.  It will also provide outfitters and guides the ability to perform trail maintenance activities in lieu of permit fees.   Additionally, the bill would address a liability issue that has discouraged some national forests from utilizing volunteers and partner organizations to help perform trail maintenance and would direct the Forest Service to identify and prioritize specific areas with the greatest need for trail maintenance in the national forest system.

In the current fiscal environment it is unlikely Congress will appropriate additional funds to directly address the trail maintenance backlog. This bill will help improve trail maintenance without the need for additional funding.

The bill must now be considered by the Senate.

View The Article on AHC Website

Favorable Tax Depreciation Rules For Race Horse Owners Remain in Place for 2016

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This post is courtesy of the September AHC Tax Bulletin.

AHC-Tax-BulletinOn December 18, 2015, Congress enacted the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the “PATH Act”), which extended various expiring tax depreciation rules that are applicable to the horse racing industry.1 Importantly, the PATH Act extended two important depreciation provisions that allow taxpayers who place a race horses into service during 2016 to recover their costs for such race horses in a more expedient timeframe. First, the PATH Act maintained the rule allowing taxpayers to depreciate the costs of a racehorse over a three-year recovery period. Second, the PATH Act retroactively extended the 50% bonus depreciation available for taxpayers that place race horses into service through December 31, 2019.

Read the bulletin here

 

AHC Work on Proposed Changes to Horse Protection Act Continues

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This is an update from the American Horse Council.

AHCMany members of the horse industry know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently proposed changes to the regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA was passed in 1970 to stop the cruel practice of “soring” horses that was occurring in some parts of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry.

The proposed rule would make several changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of improving enforcement of the law and ending soring.  However, the proposed rule has prompted some questions about its potential impact on the wider industry, particularly on other gaited breeds.  The AHC has convened an HPA working group and has been engaging industry stake holders to answer some of these questions and draft formal comments regarding the proposed rule.  The AHC has been actively communicating with industry groups including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the U.S Equestrian Federation, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, and the Arabian Horse Association.

“The AHC has always opposed soring and supported the enforcement of the HPA. There is no question that soring is an abusive practice that should not be tolerated or allowed to continue.  Because soring continues to be a problem in the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry, improvements to the HPA enforcement program are clearly needed and justified, “said AHC President Julie Broadway.

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