AHC Requests Clarification from DOT

January 31, 2018

The upcoming Electronic Logging Device deadline has sparked an animated discussion within the horse industry. The AHC would like to note that these are federal regulations that are left to state officials to be enforced. This division of responsibilities, and potentially divergent interpretation, is the basis for the sense of confusion felt across the industry.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have told the AHC that the regulatory changes within the department are several years behind schedule. As such, addressing the current state of compliance is critically important to the industry and the continuation of the equestrian sport and way of life.

In that light, the AHC is working collectively with the larger livestock industry to seek more concise and plainly presented expectations for the equine industry to follow. The following letter was sent to Secretary Elaine Chao with the Department of Transportation in the hopes that DOT will address these concerns. Depending on the response from Secretary Chao and DOT, AHC is prepared to pursue new regulatory and legislative options that ensure the continuity and protection of the equine industry. View the letter here.

Please contact the AHC if you have any further questions.

Partisan Gridlock Initiates Federal Government Shut-Down

January 20, 2018

With Congress gridlocked on an agreement to adopt a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government into February, the following are some real world consequences that could impact AHC members. In the unlikely event that the government faces an extended suspension of “non-critical” operations, AHC will inform you about other specific consequences arising from the funding impasse. 

  • National Park Service – With the temporary suspension of federal government operations, the Department of Interior may close the National Park Service (NPS).  During the last government shutdown in 2013, the NPS marked as closed, or gated, all roads accessing national parks.  The NPS also closed all visitor and information center.  Similar measures during the current shutdown would hinder hikers and horseback riders from gaining access to nearly 60,000 miles of trails under NPS jurisdiction. AHC recommends that members research the status of specific parks prior to planning a visit.   
  • National Forest Service, Possible Flexibility – According to a 2017 “shut down” contingency plan from the Department of Agriculture (USDA), any activity already certified by a permit could move forward in the event of a shutdown, so long as NFS personnel aren’t necessary to guarantee the safety of the participants, per the terms of the permit. However, NFS has the discretion to apply these contingencies on a “case-by-case” basis.  AHC recommends that members research the status of specific NFS trail closures beforehand. 
  • Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – According to a USDA memorandum, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has identified at least some APHIS functions as exempt from a shutdown, based on their role in protecting public health.  This includes APHIS’ Safety and Security Unit (SSU), which oversees health, safety, and security issues for employees of the National Centers for Animal Health (NCAH).
  • Critical Services – As a general rule, federal employees involved in “critical services” will not be subject to a furlough.  This group includes air traffic controllers, military personnel, and hazardous waste handlers, among others.  Other exempted services include USDA’s inspection and quarantine of animals prior to import or export (see above). 
  • U.S. Mail – Finally, U.S. postal workers are not exempt from a federal funding furlough and will continue to deliver the mail. 

Federal officials don’t anticipate an extended shut down of government operations.  For details related to the budget impasse and its near-term consequences, please contact Bryan Brendle, Director of Legislative Affairs, at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.