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National Equine Health Plan Published

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

National Equine Health Plan Published

Valuable resource will help curtail risk of disease spread

The American Horse Council (AHC), in conjunction with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and state animal health officials, is pleased to announce that the National Equine Health Plan (NEHP) is now available at equinediseasecc.org/national-equine-health-plan.

The horse industry is unique because horses are transported with more frequency than other livestock. It’s been seen firsthand how disease outbreaks cost the industry millions of dollars for the care of sick horses, implementation of biosecurity, and lost revenue in the form of cancelled or restricted commercial equine activities such as horseshows. In 2013, the industry felt it was time to step up and address the issue of the handling of disease outbreaks and the dissemination of information surrounding the outbreaks. This gave way to the creation of the NEHP that will outline the issues surrounding the prevention, diagnosis and control of diseases and the responsibilities and roles of the federal and state authorities and the industry.

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Congress Continues to Promote Land Access

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

On July 26, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced the “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act (RNR)” (S. 1633, H.R. 3400), legislation that expands the scope of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (PL 114-245), signed into law in late 2016.  While the RNR focuses on streamlined permitting to access public lands, the bill includes provisions that would authorize the Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to enter into cooperative agreements with private parties to promote the role of volunteers in trail maintenance.  The bill also authorizes the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and BLM to develop an interagency trail management plan that will assure uniform maintenance standards for trails crossing jurisdictional lines between the two agencies.

The Trails Act outlines a detailed program including goals and timetables by which the USDA will leverage private partners to clear trails long overdue for maintenance.  Unlike the RNR Act, which applies to both the BLM and USDA’s National Forest System (NFS), the Trails Act focuses only on trails under the jurisdiction of the NFS.

Chairman Bishop and Sen. Wyden worked closely on the bill to emphasize key issues – especially outdoor recreation permit streamlining – that will likely attract bipartisan support.  GOP staff with the House Natural Resources Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction for federal land issues, are encouraging AHC and allies to help drive cosponsors for the legislation, which currently has none.  Committee staff also state that the Subcommittee on Federal Lands will conduct a markup in late September or October, giving members the opportunity to offer technical corrections and amendments to the text.

To review a summary of the legislation, please see the following link: https://www.wyden.senate.gov/download/?id=DDF411A6-5D21-40BD-B17C-2BF73A2B9C51&download=1. If you would like more information about the RNR Act and related lobbying activity, please contact Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.orgor 202-296-4031.

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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.

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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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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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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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USDA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Changes to HPA Regulations

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The following is an AHC Washington Update.

AHCThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced it is extending the public comment period on proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act (HPA) regulations for 30 days.

On July 26, 2016, the USDA published proposed changes to the regulations governing enforcement of the 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 proposed rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring. 

This is a proposed rule only and USDA will now be accepting comments now until October 26, 2016.  USDA will then have to review all comments and release a final rule.  The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register and can be viewed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/26/2016-17648/horse-protection-licensing-of-designated-qualified-persons-and-other-amendments

The AHC opposes soring and will be submitting comments to USDA in the coming weeks. 

View The Article on AHC Website

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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USDA Proposes Changes to Horse Protection Act

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AHCThis alert is from the American Horse Council. Read the entire article on their website here.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced 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 sectors of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry.

The proposed rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring.  The AHC is currently reviewing the proposed rule to determine its impact on the horse industry.  After the AHC has had the opportunity to analysis the details of the proposed rule we will follow up with additional information. The AHC Horse Show and Animal Welfare Committees will also be convening to discuss the proposed rule.

This is a proposed rule only and USDA will be accepting comments until September 26, 2016.  USDA will then have to review all comments and release a final rule.  The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register and can be viewed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/26/2016-17648/horse-protection-licensing-of-designated-qualified-persons-and-other-amendments

 The AHC opposes soring and continues to strongly support the PAST Act (S. 1121/ HR 3268) that will strengthen the HPA and finally end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses. 

Senate Committee Approves USDA Appropriations Bill

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The following post is from the American Horse Council.

Yesterday,  the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2017Agriculture Appropriations bill. T his bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2017 fiscal year (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017).  The bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including the so-called “horse slaughter defunding provision,” funding for  USDA equine health activities and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

FY 2016 House USDA Appropriations 

Horse Slaughter

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) offered an amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities that was  adopted by a voice vote. This prohibition will  prevent horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S. if this bill is signed into law.

Currently, No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S and a prohibition  on funding for inspectors at such facilities from last year’s FY 2016 USDA bill is in effect until September 30, 2016 . If that prohibition expires, USDA will be required to provide inspectors and horse slaughter facilities if any were to  open.

A similar defunding  amendment was adopted by the House Appropriations Committee when it approved the House version of the USDA appropriations bill.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Equine Health 

The bill would provide $939 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the USDA agency responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, including responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks.        Funding for Equine, Cervid, and Small Rumi ant health would be set at $19.7 million, this is a $200,000 increase over FY 2015.

Horse Protection Act

The bill provides $706,000  for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act a $9,000 increase over FY 2016 funding.

The bill must now be approved by the full Senate.

View this article on the AHC website

 

AHC Update: USDA Revises Export Regulations

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This is an update from The American Horse Council.

american horse councilThe USDA has revised the regulations pertaining to the exportation of livestock, including horses, from the United States. The rule changes go into effect February 19, 2016.

Three key changes have been made that can potentially impact how horses are exported from the United States. These changes are;

  • The new revisions allow for the pre-export inspection of horses at facilities other than an export inspection facility associated with the port of embarkation. As few facilities specifically built for horses are available to the export industry, this change should have a positive impact on both horse and handler safety.
  • Several requirements for export health certifications, tests, and treatments have been removed from the regulations, and instead direct exporters to follow the requirements of the importing country regarding processes and procedures. While few issues arose due to the previous regulations, this change should prevent conflicts from developing between the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and authorities in the importing country in the future.
  • Under certain circumstances, the revisions replace the specific standards for export inspection facilities and ocean vessels with new performance standards. The adoption of these performance standards should allow for approval of more specialized facilities and vessels, increasing the options available to the industry at large.

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