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AHC Latest News- November 2021

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

November 2021

Former members

Copyright © 2021 American Horse Council
The AHC News is published monthly and we’d love to recruit you back as a member. Don’t miss out on the latest legislative and regulatory updates, along with news and industry efforts.

 

AHC Annual Congressional Fly-In October 28th  – Highlights & Recap

  • Helping American’s veterans with Equine Assisted Services.  Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) spoke to how evidence-based research has proven the effectiveness of EAS in helping youth, veterans, and the disabled community, Adaptive Sports Program through VA initially helped with funding for EAS with $1.5 million which was increased in 2020 to $5 million in grant appropriations.  Barr urged the attendees to contact Senators about keeping this 5 million dedicated to EAS and to improve upon that.  Barr also spoke regarding the Suicide Prevention Bill, John Scott Hannon Mental Health Care and Improvement Act.  Data shows that 21 Veterans take their lives every day in USA.  Only 14 of those had any sort of interaction with the VA in the previous 2 years – thus we need other entry points and access points for Veterans who are not utilizing the VA.  Barr offered an amendment for non-VA organizations, which passed and made it into the final bill.   Barr again asked attendees to talk to Senators to keep the house amendment on a dedicated budget.
    Kathy Alm of PATH Intl. and Ruth Dismuke-Blakely of AHA mentioned that EAS for veterans should all fall under the umbrella of mental health and keeping the boundaries clear regarding treatment for Veterans when it comes to EAS.  When it’s under Adaptive Sports, it undermines EAS as a treatment strategy when asking for reimbursement and confuses the public. Barr agreed to have further discussion and investigate strategies.
  • Guest Workers – We need them, but can we get them?  Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) who is the lead on H2B Visas, shared how we need temporary workers to help fill the vast need for farm workers and the returning worker exemption is one option or exempt/remove some from H2B.  Rep. Harris asked attendees to help his colleagues on the hill learn and understand the difference between immigration vs guest workers, as the penalties are strict for temporary work visas.
  • House Ag Committee Update Rep. GT Thompson (R-PA) shared his goal of being a strong voice for American Agriculture.  The House Ag Committee is blessed with opportunities to help Agriculture rebound from these crisis (COVID, natural disasters, etc.).
  • What’s happening with Tax policy? Jordan Harris and Mason Foley of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office spoke about the new framework for reconciliation package which was recently released.  AHC staff asked about the Build Back Better – looking to get this reevaluated and would like suggestions on raising the awareness.
  • Can another state’s legislative issues affect me? Case Studies… 11:30 AM Julie Beeman spoke regarding CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feed Operations) Challenges in CA and shared San Jan Capistrano Case Study.  Scott Dorenkamp of PRCA spoke of potential rodeo ban in Los Angeles CA. Concern that this movement will move up and down the state of CA and into CO.  With potential impact on future equestrian events that involve fixed spurs.  If Rodeo is banned, others will not be far behind, so it is in everyone’s interest to pay attention to this.
  • Senate Ag Committee Update  Kyle Varner of Sen. Deb Stabenow’s Office (D-MI) shared that thus far this year the committee has been working on confirming any administration nominees, turnover of secretary positions at USDA.  28 Nominees.  COVID relief package passed, monitoring the USDAs release of those assistance programs.  Kinks in the supply chain.  Varner also spoke about climate change and Introduced Growing Climate Solutions Act, 94-6 vote passed out of the Senate.  Intended to help USDA put more structure around carbon markets that producers are taking advantage of.  Helps provide more certainty for farmers/ranchers in getting involved with that, certification process for USDA.  Certification process for verifiers on the ground, so farmers know who to trust.  One stop shop website for producers who are interested in participating in the carbon markets.  Varner stated that the committee will start turning to more formal review of 2018 Farm Bill. Current bill doesn’t expire until 2023, so there is time for industry input. AHC staff mentioned the Equine Industry is consistently underrepresented in the USDA census data.  Making that large gap in numbers critical to address for future changes to the Farm Bill.
  • What is the status of the PAST Act?  Rep Steve Cohen (D- TN) shared that the PAST Act was introduced in June, with 209 co-sponsors initially, 234 now, which is majority of the house.  Cohen also noted that in 2017, USDA submitted a role to the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) that would take the language from the Past Act and codify it in a way that the USDA could take action on it now.  This rule change gives USDA the teeth they need to enforce the Horse Protection Act.  If this rule was to be introduced, it would likely be adopted.
  • What is the Congressional Horse Caucus and what are its priorities?  Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) noted that the Equine Industry contributes over $50 billion to the US economy annually and plays a key role in conserving agricultural land.  The Caucus Is made up of bi-partisan members who are aware of and support the Equine Industry as well as the health and safety of horses in the racing industry.   Tonko urged the attendees to use storytelling as a tool to help get PAST Act over the finish line.  And AHC offered its services to help grow the Horse Caucus and its mission – outreach, build by consensus.
  • Updates from the US Dept. of Agriculture
    Oscar Gonzales, Asst. Secretary USDA spoke about his 3rd generation connection to the horse industry and efforts underway by National Security Council, to bring in workers from Ecuador, El Salvador & Guatemala to help with season work and address labor shortage.  Gonzales also spoke about keeping eyes out for legislation to unleash a substantial amount of funding in rural areas.  Making sure that children are fed and that the needs of rural America are being met.  Reaching out to small business owners, most families in agriculture have some form of supplemental small business.  Providing workshops to find out what the needs of small business owners are. AHC staff asked if there is any discussion about reintroducing the rule change in the Horse Protection Act – Specifically realigning the language around testing procedures and protocols related to the PAST Act. Gonzales said he was not up to speed on this and would make inquiries.  AHC staff also noted that the Farm Bill is an important part of the USDA’s program funding, and the equine industry is looking to include more provisions for better horse census numbers.  AHC would like to see the USDA to find a better solution to this problem, and better realize the equine population in the United States.  Lynn Coakley of Equus Foundation asked if Gonzales had any idea why the number of horses being exported for slaughter appear to have decreased significantly in the past year?  Discussion about possibilities followed including potentially more awareness about the issue, less demand, and COVID possibly reducing the number of horses crossing the border.
  • How to get the biggest bang from Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA)?  Sherry Reaves & Brenda Yankoviak of USFS spoke to the GAOA.  The GAOA provides funding through Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF).  Forest Service is the largest agency under the Department of Agriculture. National Parks and Public Legacy Restoration Fund, authorized up to $285 Million annually.  Used to address deferred maintenance (maintenance that was not performed when it was scheduled or should have been accomplished and which, therefore, was put off or delayed for a future period.  Yankoviak suggested what makes a successful GAOA project includes Priorities:  deferred maintenance reduction, visitor access and experience, supporting undeserved communities, mitigating climate change, leveraging partnerships.
    Creating story maps and connecting people to these projects.  Promoting these improvements across the country.  The more people see the impacts, the more they are willing to support and contribute.  Share your stories!
    How to get involved:  Leverage funding, collaborate on project development, provide feedback on projects, assist with data collection, and volunteer!

Thank you to all our participants and speakers.

Barr Leads the Charge on Legislation to Spur Investment in Equine Industry

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) reintroduced legislation to incentivize investment in Kentucky’s signature equine industry.  The Equine Tax Fairness Act would make the three-year depreciation schedule permanent for racehorses, regardless of their age when put into service.  Currently, Congress must reauthorize this provision in the tax law on an annual basis. 

Additionally, this legislation would reduce the holding period for equine assets to be considered long term capital gains, putting them on a level playing field with other similar assets.  Congressman Barr’s bill is endorsed by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Jockey Club, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Keeneland, and the American Horse Council.

AHC welcomes new Government Affairs Liaison – Mark Riso

AHC President, Julie Broadway, is pleased to announce the addition of Mark Riso to the AHC Team effective November 15th.
Mark is a public policy professional and national lobbyist, with over three decades of public policy – advocacy experience on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. – with an expertise in the legislative, regulatory, and political processes. Mark served as Legislative Director to two senior Members of Congress and as a professional staff member on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (U.S. House of Representatives, House Banking Committee). Following his work on Capitol Hill, Mark has served as a senior lobbyist for past twenty-five years for industry associations, and passionate about advocacy.

Horse Week Re-Releases Available

“Just like your passion for horses never fades, neither does Horse Week’s brilliant video content. That’s why The Equine Network is re-releasing your favorite Horse Week classics each week from now until Christmas!

The Horse Week re-releases will be streamed each Tuesday night, at 7pm ET. Head on over to horseweek.tv for a full video lineup. Tune in from the barn, office or comfort of your couch—Horse Week videos can be watched on any smart device by visiting horseweek.tv or the Equine Network YouTube channel. Once a video has been released, you will have until the week of Christmas to watch it as many times as you like for FREE!

Climate Change & the Equine Industry
Cliff Williamson, Director Health & Regulatory Affairs

Weather has always been an important variable to the operations of the horse industry, regardless of breed or activity.  But the horse industry is facing new and unique challenges in the form of unpredictable climate. Whether it is “climate change” in the fundamental sense caused by an increase in greenhouse gasses or simply a temporary shifting of weather patterns can be left to the scientists and politicians to debate.  But it is hard to disagree with the idea that “something is happening” with weather wherever you live. Most climate scientists believe that fundamental changes in weather may be the new norm.  Like all industries, the horse industry should be alert to potential changes and their harmful ramifications.  It may be that these changes are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be considered and prepared for.

Climate change is generally associated with drought, higher temperatures, swings in heat and cold, changes in rainfall, increases in extreme weather events, like hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding, and stronger and more frequent storms. These changes have the potential to influence how the horse industry operates day-to-day.  Such changes can also have broader effects, such as a rise in invasive species, the movement of ticks and mosquitoes, the costs of feed and hay, and increasingly intense wildfires.

Persistent drought conditions in California have created annual wildfire situations that have not only posed a real threat to local citizens and their horses, but have also impacted air quality, event space availability and forage production resulting in cascading negative impacts for the region. The hurricanes that were once considered once in a lifetime events now occur with such consistancy that traditional naming practices had to be revisited. Particularly in the last decade, the number of significant climate events that have affected the equine industry has increased to such a degree that scores of organizations have felt the need to publish materials concerning the avoidance of, preparation for, and response to wildfires, blizzards, flooding, drought, extreme heat and extreme cold.

The equine industry serves as a critical player in the preservation and protection of green space in urban, suburban and rural areas. More than 80 million acres of open space is preserved for equestrian use according to the 2017 AHC Foundation Economic Impact Study. These spaces are capable of facilitating positive environmental efforts in their respective communities, as long as they are allowed to remain in place. Because of the unique methods in which horses are cared for in comparison to other livestock species, our impacts on water, air and soil quality are generally minimal, if not mitigated completely.

The equine industry not only needs to continue to be good stewards, it also needs to be proactive and prepare. The AHC recently offered a webinar on eco-friendly equestrian facility designs (see our website for that recording). We also are working to seek avenues for climate smart solutions to help our 80 million acres of equestrian lands in the US. As part of that effort, the AHC is encouraging the USDA to include the equine industry in their discussions with farmers, ranchers and rural communities so that together we can develop innovative climate-smart practices.

Tax Consideration for Charitable Contributions in Equine Industry

If a horse or other property is given as a charitable contribution, the donor may generally deduct the fair market value of the property. However, when property given to a charity would result in ordinary income to the donor if the property had been sold instead, the amount of the gift must be reduced by the amount of the ordinary income that would have been reported by the donor had the property been sold instead of donated. Also, if a horse that is eligible for capital gain treatment has been depreciated and is then donated to the charity, the amount of the gift is the value of the horse reduced by the amount of depreciation recapture. The deduction amount must also be reduced if gifted tangible personal property does not in some way relate to the purposes that give rise to the charity’s tax exemption

To read more go to : Tax Bulletins For Members – American Horse Council

United Horse Coalition (UHC), A Home For Every Horse (AHFEH) &

Purina mail out Fall 2021 Feed Coupons

We are delighted to announce that the fall mailing of feed coupons were shipped Tuesday, October 26th  to hundreds of deserving rescues across the US, reported Carly Barrick, AHFEH Program Coordinator.  “Thank you for the hard work you do for these deserving animals! ”

The United Horse Coalition is a proud partner with AHFEH and Purina to make this happen!

P.S. We love when you tag us in your posts so we can stay up to date on your hard work and successes. Remember to follow and tag @ahomeforeveryhorse on Instagram and Facebook!

CARLY BARRICK
Tier Program Coordinator |  Equine Network
A Home For Every Horse Manager | AHFEH
New Email: cbarrick@equinenetwork.com

 

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

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