January 25, 2017
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 January13, 2017, USDA had 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.
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.”
According to the USDA under the final regulation—
- APHIS will license, train, and oversee independent, third party inspectors, known as Horse Protection Inspectors (HPIs), and establish the licensing eligibility requirements to reduce conflicts of interest.
- Beginning 30 days after the publication of the final rule, all action devices, except for certain boots, are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction. All pads and wedges are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction on or after January 1, 2018, unless such horse has been prescribed and is receiving therapeutic, veterinary treatment using pads or wedges. This delayed implementation allows ample time to both gradually reduce the size of pads to minimize any potential physiological stress to the horses and prepare horses to compete in other classes.
- Beginning January 1, 2018, management of HPA-covered events must, among other things, submit certain information records to APHIS, provide HPIs with access, space, and facilities to conduct inspections, and have a farrier physically present to assist HPIs at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions that allow Tennessee Walking Horses or racking horses to participate in therapeutic pads and wedges if more than 150 horses are entered, and have a farrier on call if 150 or fewer horses are entered.
The final rule has not been published in the Federal Register, but USDA has stated they plan to publish it in the next several days.
In its initial assessment of the final rule, the AHC believes USDA has made many of the changes that were necessary to end soring and to fulfill the purpose and intent of the HPA as well as make sure other segments of horse show industry that have no history of soring horses are not unintentionally impacted or burdened by the regulation.
The AHC is continuing to review the proposed rule to determine its impact on the horse industry. After the AHC has had the opportunity to analysis the details of the final rule we will follow up with additional information.
January 12, 2017
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
January 10, 2017
The Safeguard American Food Exports 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.