American Horse Council Accomplishments Since 2004
- Achieved passage of the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act (H.R. 845/ S.1110). This law directs the Forest Service to take several actions to address the current trail maintenance backlog that is adversely impacting all trail users on many national forests, including equestrians.
Specifically, the new law will create a new national strategy to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance and a new priority trail maintenance program. The law will also create a program to allow outfitters and guides to treat their national forest trail maintenance activities as an in-kind donation to offset fees owed to the federal government.
- Submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requesting important improvements and clarifications to proposed regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA).
The AHC’s comments strongly urged USDA to explicitly limit all new provisions to Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses, mirroring the widely supported Prevent All Soring Tactics Act or PAST Act. The AHC believes making this change will address most concerns the horse industry has with the proposed rule and will still achieve the goal of ending soring.
- Since 2014, the Time to Ride Challenge has introduced over 90,000 new enthusiasts to horses through 1,500 host stables across the country. These newcomers are the industry's next riders, owners, competitors, clients, customers, and members.
- In 2016 Time to Ride also launched new collaborative programs including the Pledge to Take a Friend Riding, and Collegiate Challenges held at Colorado State University and Texas A&M University.
- Continued to advance the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC).
2016 Numbers to date:
239 Alerts posted since January 1, 2016
251 Outbreaks reported since January 1, 2016
344 Alerts posted since April 2015
485 Outbreaks reported since April 2015
2,142 subscriptions to the EDCC email alert list
- Continued to gain support for the AHC Welfare Code of Practice. The code of practice is a broad set of principles designed to establish good welfare procedures for organizations to follow to “Put the Horse First,” and has been endorsed by 54 national horse organizations.
- Secured a two year extension of 3-year-depreciation for all race horses retroactive to January 1, 2015 through 2016. From 2009 through 2014, race horses could be depreciated over three years, regardless of when they were placed in service. That change, which eliminated the 7-year depreciation period for race horses and made all race horses eligible for three-year depreciation, expired at the end of 2014.
- Helped achieve a permanent extension of the Section 179 business deduction to $500,000. It had reverted to $25,000 at the end of 2014. Anyone in the horse business can now immediately depreciate up to $500,000 of the cost of any investment in business assets, including horses, purchased and placed in service after January 1, 2015. The deduction is reduced dollar-for-dollar once investment in all one’s business activities hit $2 million.
- Helped achieve a five year extension of bonus depreciation for qualifying new property, including assets used in the horse business, such as horses and other equipment, purchased and placed in service after January 1, 2015. The bonus depreciation percentage is 50 percent for property placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017 and phases down to 40 percent in 2018, and 30 percent in 2019. The first use of the horse or equipment must begin with the taxpayer. This had expired at the end of 2014.
- Supported restoring and making permanent favorable tax treatment for land donated for conservation purposes, particularly land donated by farmers and ranchers. This will benefit horse farms and help protect land for equestrian uses.
- Worked with other industries to secure, in the FY2016 omnibus spending bill, beneficial provisions relating to the H-2B temporary, non-agricultural worker program, including a returning worker exemption to the visa cap and improvements to some of the most onerous provisions of the 2015 H-2B rule. These changes make the H-2B program less burdensome for employers, including those in the horse industry.
- Worked with other recreational users to re-authorize the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP) that provides $85 million in annual funding for trails throughout the country. RTP provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for all recreational trail users and has greatly benefited equestrians.
- Launched with the American Association of Equine Practitioners the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) that will collect and report real time information about disease outbreaks as well as provide the information needed to respond to and manage those outbreaks. The EDCC will help protect the horse industry from the threat of infectious disease outbreaks and keep horse moving domestically and internationally.
- Held the second “100 Day Horse Challenge” as part of the AHC’s Time to Ride initiative that seeks to increase awareness of, and interest in, horse-related activities. Hundreds of stables, organizations and businesses participated in the “100 Day Horse Challenge” by hosting events that attracted over 41,000 newcomers to horse activities.
- Continued to gain support for the AHC Welfare Code of Practice. The code of practice is a broad set of principles designed to establish good welfare procedures for organizations to follow to “Put the Horse First,” and has been endorsed by 53 national horse organizations.
- Secured a one year extension of 3-year-depreciation for all race horses retroactive to January 1, 2014. From 2009 to 2013, race horses could be depreciated over three years, regardless of when they were placed into service. That change, which eliminated the 7-year-depreciation period for race horses and made all race horses eligible for three-year depreciation, expired at the end of 2013. The extenstion ran through December 31, 2014
- Helped achieve a one year extension (to December 31, 2014) of several tax provisions favorable to horse owners, breeders, and equine businesses that expired or were reduced at the end of 2013. These provisions included restoration of the Section 179 business deduction to $500,000 and restoration of 50% bonus depreciation for qualifying new property, including assets used in the horse business, such as horses and other equipment, purchased and placed into service through 2014. Also restored for one year was a favorable tax treatment for land donated for conservation purposes by farmers and ranchers.
- Successfully achieved passage of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 1171/H.R. 1528). The bill clarifies that veterinarians are allowed to transport, administer and dispense controlled substances and medications outside of their registered offices and hospitals. It ensures equine veterinarians continue to have the ability to provide mobile or ambulatory services in the field to the horse community.
- Helped draft and achieve introduction of the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2014 (H.R. 4886). The bill would direct the Forest Service to take several actions to address the current trail maintenance backlog that is adversley impacting all trail users on many national forests, including equestrians.
- Successfully supported re-authorization of the Market Access Program (MAP) until 2018. MAP provides funding for overseas marketing and promotional activites to help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. The program is used by the horse industry to promote American horses to foreign markets.
- Successfully supported re-authorization of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to help agricultural producers implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. Horse farms and ranches are eligible for this program.
- Held the first "100 Day Horse Challenge" as part of the AHC's Time to Ride initiative that seeks to increase awareness of, and interest in, horse-related activities. Hundreds of stables, organizations and businesses participated in the "100 Day Horse Challenge" by hosting events that attracted over 25,000 newcomers to horse activities.
- Submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal, Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) opposing the proposed removal of Saudi Arabia from the list of African Horse Sickness (AHS) affected countries.
- Continued to advance the National Equine Health Plan to ensure the horse industry, as well as, federal, state and local governments are prepared for and able to respond efficiently to contagious equine disease outbreaks.
- Continued to gain support for the AHC Welfare Code of Practice. The code of practice is a broad set of principles designed to establish good welfare procedures for organizations to follow to "Put the Horse First," and has been endorsed by 48 horse organizations.
- Secured a $1.2 million increase in funding for equine health in FY2013 appropriations to ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture is able to respond effectively to equine disease outbreaks.
- Helped achieve Senate passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, a comprehensive immigration bill. The bill would overhaul the U.S. immigration system and fix some of the immigration issues facing the horse industry and all of American agriculture.
- Testified in support of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2013 (H.R. 1518/S. 1406) or PAST Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The PAST Act would strengthen the forty year old Horse Protection Act to prevent horse soring.
- Held a Congressional briefing on the PAST Act to educate Members of Congress and their staffs on the bill and industry support for the bill.
- Clarified that horse breeding farms are eligible for the USDA Emergency Conservation Program. This program provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by drought, erosion, floods, hurricanes, heavy snows, ice and/or high wind or other natural disasters.
- Launched a new national initiative to increase awareness of and interest in horse-related activities, including a new website and social media platform called TimeToRide.com.
- Continued to advance the National Equine Health Plan to ensure the horse industry, as well as federal, state and local governments are prepared for and able to respond efficiently to contagious equine disease outbreaks.
- Continued to gain support for the AHC Welfare Code of Practice. The code of practice is a broad set of principles designed to establish good welfare procedures for organizations to follow to "Put the Horse First," and has been endorsed by 42 horse organizations.
- Included language in the Senate Farm Bill Committee Report that would direct USDA to develop a national equine health plan and fill a vacant equine vet position.
- Secured an increase in funding for equine health programs in the House FY2013 USDA appropriations bill.
- Secured passage of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Backcountry Access Act, introduced by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA). The bill ensures the National Park Service will continue to issue permits to commercial horse and mule packers to operate in the wilderness area of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
- Worked with a broad coalition of recreational users to save the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP) that provides $85 million in annual funding for trails throughout the country.
- Successfully opposed new Department of Labor regulations that would have barred young people from working in agriculture and with horses. The AHC along with other agricultural organizations convinced the Administration and Congress that these rules were ill-considered, would prevent young people from becoming involved in agriculture, and would negatively impact family farms and ranches.
- Supported Congressional action to prohibit the Department of Labor from implementing a new H-2B temporary foreign worker wage rule opposed by the AHC. The rule would significantly increase the cost of the program.
- Secured language in USDA appropriations bill committee report that highlights the threat of contagious equine diseases to the horse industry and directs USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to make responding to such outbreaks a priority.
- Submitted comments opposing the Department of Labor's proposed rule governing the H-2B program temporary guest worker program.
- Worked with a broad coalition to repeal the new 1099 reporting requirement that would have placed a costly and time consuming burden on horse businesses and farms.
- Secured an increase in funding for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to $696,000, an increase of $196,000 from FY2011.
- Successfully pushed the USDA to tighten regulations under the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Act. The changes will provide greater protection to horses that are first transported to intermediate collection points, such as assembly points, feedlots, or stockyards.
- Supported USDA's proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act that would require horse industry organizations to impose minimum USDA-established penalites for soring. These changes were adopted in 2012.
- In response to the 2011 Equine Herpesvirus (EHV-1) outbreak, requested the USDA coordinate data collection, dissemination, and communication efforts among state and federal veterinarians in order to mitigate the health and economic implications of further EHV-1 transmission. This resulted in the formation of the EHV-1 Response Team, which helped to minimize the health and economic impacts of the outbreak and bring the incident to a quick conclusion.
- Submitted comments on the Forest Service's proposed planning rule. The Forest Service planning rule will be used to guide individual forests in setting policies over the next 15 to 20 years
- Worked with others to enact the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, which continued bigger write-offs for horses and other property purchased and placed in service by a horse business.
- Began developing a National Equine Health Plan to implement a proactive approach to mitigating the health and economic impacts of future equine disease outbreaks. The Plan includes industry driven education, communication, and biosecurity elements.
- Co-hosted a workshop with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state animal health officials, and industry organizations during the AHC's National Issues Forum in June, 2010 to discuss the issues surrounding the handling of equine infectious disease prevention, diagnosis, and containment.
- Worked with the National Equine Piroplasmosis Working Group on the Long-Term Recommendations of EP in the US to ensure the recommendations minimize the health and economic imapact of EP incidents and to ensure EP remainds a foreign animal disease in the US.
- Published the first yearly Report on Equestrian Access on Federal Public Lands and dissimilated this report to the federal land management agency to help them understand the issues equestrians are experiencing on federal land.
- Worked with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as an informational resource during the development of the objectives scope and methodology for the GAO study: Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.
- Submitted comments to the Obama Administration's Taskforce on Childhood Obesity, highlighting the health benefits of equestrian activites.
- Participated in the White House Conference on America's Great Outdoors and submitted comments to the Administration concerning the equestrian community's connection to America's private and public land.
- Supported the enactment of The Travel Promotion Act that creates new programs to help increase foreign tourism in the U.S. and will benefit equine tourism.
- Requested the National Agricultural Statistics Service, which prepares official national estimates of crop and livestock production, disposition, and prices undertake a count of all equine in the US, regardless of their activity, to provide accurate information to estimated disease risk and evaluate the economic impact of the horse industry along with numerous other support industries.
- Worked with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to ensure research grants for equine infectious diseases were eligible in future competitive grant programs. The AHC secured eligbility for equine diseases under NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program.
- Worked to pass the USDA funding bill that directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the status of horse welfare as it relates to the closing of horse slaughter plants in the United States.
- Introduced the National Welfare Code of Practice that outlines what it means for an organization to be committed to the responsible breeding, training, care, use, enjoyment, transport, and retirement of horses. To-date the welfare code of practice has been signed by 28 organizations.
- Submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) concering proposed regulations governing the H-2A temporary agriculture alien worker program, including those at horse farms.
- Launched the Equestrian Access on Public Lands Survey to gather information on access issues equestrians have experienced on federal land in recent years.
- Submitted comments on the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Comploance Board's proposed rules on accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed areas that highlighted the role horses can play helping disabled Americans experience the great outdoors.
- Released national Welfare Code of Practice endorsed by many Equine Industry Organizations. The Welfare Code of Practice, drafted by the American Horse Council, outlines in generic terms what it means for an organization to be committeed to the responsible breeding, training, care, use, enjoyment, transport, and retirement of horses.
- Held "The Welfare of the Horse" forum in Washington, DC. The Forum was held as part of the AHC's National Issues Forum and featured speakers from segments of the horse community as varied as competition, sport, work and entertainment. Speakers and panelists discussed the many welfare and safety initiatives that various segments of the horse industry have in place or are instituting.
- The Unwanted Horse Coalition conducted its 2009 Unwanted Horses Survey, a national survey taken by more than 27,000 horse owners, equine industry stakeholders, resuce and retirement facilities and non-horse owners. The results helped to show the magnitude of the issue of the unwanted horse, the perception of the problem, awareness of options, the economic impact and possible solutions.
- The Unwanted Horse Coalition releases its handbook, Best Practices: How Your Organization Can Help Unwanted Horses, which details initiatives and activites organizations can undertake to help reduce the number of unwanted horses.
- Supported enactment of the Economic Stimulus Act, which raised the Section 179 expense deduction to $250,000 and reinstated 50% bonus depreciation for horses and other depreciable property.
- Passed legislation reducing the depreciation period for younger race horses to three years. The change placed all racehorses in the three-year category for depreciation purposes regardless of when they were placed in service.
- Included provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill that specifically designated “horses” within the definition of livestock eligible for federal disaster assistance and “equine farmers and ranchers” within the definition of agricultural producers eligible for federal emergency loans.
- Worked with USDA to draft and adopt an amendment to its import rules to allow non-competitive entertainment horses to be brought temporarily into the U.S. from countries affected with Contagious Equine Metritis without undergoing all of the tests required for permanent entry.
- Submitted comments supporting the USDA’s proposal to extend the regulations governing the commercial transport of horses to slaughter to horses bound for slaughter, but delivered first to an assembly point, feedlot, or stockyard.
- Published “Getting Involved in the 2008 Elections,” a guide for the horse industry. The guide stemmed from the program at the AHC’s National Issues Forum in Washington explaining how the horse industry could take advantage of the 2008 federal elections to get more involved with their elected representatives. This was the first national program of this kind for the horse industry.
- Sponsored a day-long program with the Department of Agriculture on “The Unwanted Horse Issues: What Now” in response to the growing problem of unwanted horses across the country.
- Supported USDA’s proposal to authorize the operation of permanent privately-operated quarantine facilities. In pressing USDA to propose the changes, the AHC recognized the international nature of the horse industry and the need for quarantine space to import horses.
- Clarified the 2008 Fiscal Year USDA Appropriations bill to ensure that the continued international and interstate movement of horses was protected by having the overly-broad language in the bill that was intended to apply only to the transport of horses to processing facilities, but which would have applied to all horses, removed before final passage.
- Supported broader opportunities for disabled riders in comments to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board calling for better trails, trail heads, access routes, mounting blocks, ramps, camping, rest room facilities and stables that accommodate the special needs of handicapped riders.
- Submitted comments to the Department of Treasury and Federal Reserve Board supporting the regulations proposed by the agencies under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The regulations appeared to follow the statutory directive in the Act to not block racing’s transactions under the Interstate Horseracing Act. The AHC also suggested that the Agencies provide further positive clarification that such transactions are not to be blocked by allowing them to be designated by a specific merchant category code.
- Recreational Horse Trails in Rural and Wildland Areas: Design, Construction, and Maintenance, written by Dr. Gene Wood of Clemson University, is published. This guidebook concentrates specifically on horse trail development in rural and wild land areas. The AHC contracted with the Federal Highway Administration to facilitate the funding of this manual.