National Equine Health Plan Published

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 goals of the NEHP are to protect the health and welfare of the U.S. equine population, facilitate the continued interstate and international movement of horses and their products, ensure the availability of regulatory services, and protect the economic continuity of business in the equine industry.

The NEHP also functions as a roadmap for coordinating horse owners and industry organizations with veterinarians and state and federal animal health officials to prevent, recognize, control and respond to diseases and environmental disasters. The plan facilitates horse industry preparedness, effective rapid communication, and owner education, which make up the foundation for preventing diseases and disease spread. Links to information and resources are included in the NEHP document, including a list of “Roles and Responsibilities” for all stakeholders in the industry.

The NEHP provides immediate access to resources and communications needed to optimize disease mitigation and prevention. It serves as a guide for regulations and responses needed to mitigate and prevent infectious diseases. The AHC and the AAEP encourage sharing this document as it will help educate horse owners about how veterinarians and state and federal officials work together to decrease the risk of disease spread.

NAHMS Equine Health Study Update

Introduction

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) announced the launch of an equestrian health study called “Equine 2015” that began in May.  This is NAHMS third national study of the U.S. equine health issues; the previous studies were conducted in 1998 and 2005.

Equine 2015 is designed to provide participants, the horse 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. The study will also provide the horse industry with new and valuable information regarding trends in the industry for 1998, 2005, and 2015.

AHC Position

The American Horse Council supported the initiating of the study and encouraged anyone contacted by NAHMS to participate.

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USDA Five Year Equine Health Business Plan

Introduction

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed and published its five year Equine Health Business Plan.  The Plan outlines the steps that USDA will undertake to partner with the states, tribes, the horse industry and others to safeguard the health of U.S. horses and the equine industry over the next five years.

AHC Position

The AHC supports USDA’s efforts in creating the Five Year Equine Health Business Plan that will result in a system that fits the needs and requirements of a growing industry.

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AHC Changes Position on Federal EIA Rule Proposal

Introduction

In January, 2012, the AHC advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA} that it opposed the USDA’s proposing a new federal EIA rule. At the time, the AHC did not consider a change was needed because a very small percentage of horses tested positive for EIA and the disease appeared under control.  The AHC felt that the USDA funds, resources and staff time spent on drafting and proposing such a rule could be better spent on other more pressing equine issues.

AHC Position

The AHC no longer opposes the publication of a federal rule on EIA so that comments can be provided by interested parties.

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Clarification of Withholding Requirement on Racing

On December 29, 2016 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 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.

To view the proposed rule, please click here.

H-2B Program and Wage Rule

Introduction

On April 29, 2015, the Department Homeland Security (DHS) and Department Labor (DOL) issued a final interim H-2B temporary guest worker program rule and a final wage rule. This final interim H-2B rule is almost identical to a 2012 H-2B program rule that has been blocked by a federal court since its release and was opposed by the American Horse Council and other industries that rely on the H-2B program.  Both rules are effective immediately. 

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

AHC Position

The AHC is opposed to the final interim rule and the final wage rule.

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Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Introduction

In April of 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published a proposed rule to redefine “Waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). 

AHC Position

The AHC has joined with a broad coalition of agricultural groups in opposing the proposed rule and requesting that it and the IR be withdrawn.

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Rule Change Requested for Re-Entry of Competition Horses

Background

When horses are imported to the U.S. from regions affected with Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM), U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations require them to undergo quarantine and special import tests for CEM, including in some cases test breeding.  These requirements also apply to U.S. horses exported to CEM regions for more than 60 days and then returned.  For this reason, horses sent to the European Union for competition are always returned to the U.S. within 60 days.  U.S. competitors do not want their horses undergoing the various CEM tests.

The current “60 day” rule results in shorter travel intervals for U.S. competition horses, increased expense to owners, and additional training obstacles to ensure the horses are competing at peak levels.  Extending the re-entry requirements to “90 days” would reduce the stress on US competition horses, reduce the expense to owners, and provide a more level playing field against our international competitors.

AHC’s Position

The AHC supports a change to the re-entry requirements for competition horses exported temporarily for up to 90 days to CEM regions and returned.

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USDA Eases Import Restrictions on Horses from Saudi Arabia

Background

Horses from Saudi Arabia, and all countries affected with African Horse Sickness (AHS), must be quarantined for sixty days under import rules of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before entering the U.S.  Horses from non-AHS countries may be admitted with a shorter quarantine period.  The extended period is required to ensure that horses from AHS countries are not infected with AHS, which has a long incubation period. 

AHS is a highly contagious and deadly disease that affects horses, donkeys, and mules and has a mortality rate of up to 95% in naive horse populations like that in the U.S. 

On March 30, 2015, USDA announced that Saudi Arabia was AHS-free and that horses from that country would no longer have to undergo a sixty day quarantine period.  The rule change was effective immediately.

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Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2015

Introduction

The Horse Protection Act (HPA) was enacted into law in 1971.  It has been enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for over forty years.  USDA deems soring to involve the use of action devices, chemicals, cuts, burns, pads, wedges or practices like trimming a horse’s hoof to expose sensitive tissue, so that it causes pain in the horse’s forelegs and produces an accentuated show gait for competition or sale. 

On April 27, 2015, Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) re- introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2015 (PAST act) in the Senate and on July 28, 2015, Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) re-introduced the PAST Act  (HR 3268)) 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 PAST Act was previously introduced Last Congress and is supported by the American Horse Council and most national horse show organizations.

AHC Position

The AHC supports this legislation, as does the American Association of Equine Practitioners, U.S. Equestrian Federation, the American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, and the American Veterinarian Medical Association.

Click here for more information on this bill.

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