2019 AHC ANNUAL MEETING – COMMITTEE REPORTS
Equine Welfare Committee
Committee Chair Dr. Tom Lenz, Senior Director of Equine Veterinary Services for Zoetis, led the 2019 Welfare Committee meeting at the American Horse Council’s Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum. Bruce Rittenhouse, Bureau of Land Management, provided an update from last year’s presentation on the Wild Horse and Burrow Program:
- 88,900 horses on the ranch as of March 2019
- 49,194 horses are in BLM holdings as of May 2019
- 4,609 horses were adopted in FY2019
- 11,472 horse were removed from the range in FY2018
- $80.555 million appropriated in FY209 budget
- Population is growing 20% annually when unchecked
- Adoption Incentive program was initiated in 2019, with 900+ animals adopted with a $1000 incentive
Nancy Perry provided an update on the ‘Path Forward for the Management of BLM’s Wild Horse and Burros’
Other presentation to the Committee included United Horse Coalition, Equine Welfare Data Collective, ASPCA “Good Welfare for All Equines” campaign, AQHA Welfare Commission Update, NRHA Welfare Issues Update, and HSUS Domestic Equine Welfare Legislative Efforts.
The American Horse Council appreciates everyone’s continued interest and support of the Welfare Committee’s efforts and would like to thank Bruce Rittenhouse, Nancy Perry, and all presenters whose presentations and participation was extremely critical to this year’s success.
Health and Regulatory Committee
The American Horse Council was excited to host the annual Health & Regulatory Committee meeting at this year’s National Issues Forum in Washington D.C. Dr. Richard Mitchell, chair of the committee, led a robust meeting this year. This meeting is an opportunity to highlight the importance of collaboration between federal agencies and the industry in supporting, protecting and promoting the health and well-being of horses and the horse industry.
An update from Dr. Angela Pelzel-McCluskeyabout the USDA-APHIS-Surveillance, Preparedness and Response Service. Updates included the impacts of the recent organizational restructuring; the VS guidance document of EIA testing approval is waiting from OMB sign-off, there were 52 positive EP horses in 2019 and 34 positive EIA horses in 2019, with Mexico as the most common source for all cases.
Dr. Amber Headen provided a USDA-AHPIS-National Import Export Service update including the 60-90 day CEM Rule Change has been sent to the Deputy Administrator for approval before releasing to the public, “All-in/All-Out” Guidance Document for temporary quarantines has been released, a new CEM facility checklist guidance document is out and includes MOU for states, and there were 28,060 total live imports for 2018.
Bailey McCallum and Dr. Nat White discussed updates for the EDCC. A review of new features, including the database, along with financial needs and a request for fundraising support to maintain and preserve the EDCC for the future was expressed.
Heidi Whitman from Naked Leaf gave an interesting presentation on the future of hemp as a feed additive/supplement for equines. This opened a discussion on the status of CBD usage and equine health.
The American Horse Council appreciates and thanks the presenters who contributed to making this meeting a success.
Horse Show Committee
Christine Tauber, Committee Chair, welcomed the members and attendees to the meeting of the 2019 AHC Show/Competition Committee. The committee received updated efforts of the AHC over the past year. Bryan Brendle, AHC Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs updated the status of the Past Act and H2B. Julie Broadway, AHC President provided an update on PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today Act) of 2019 allowing a medical care tax deduction for up to $1000 ($2000 if filing jointly) of qualified sport and fitness expenses per year. AHC is collaborating with ORR on this legislation.
Excellent presentations were given by Penny Brown from STAND Foundation and Cowgirls of Color regarding their afterschool and summer camp horse riding programs. Maureen Holland and Leslie Gomez of Cozen O’Connor gave an overview of the “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and safe Sport Authorization Act” discussing best practices and lessons learned from their experiences working with numerous sports organizations.
Julie Broadway delivered a suggestion from Gary Carpenter to evaluate the possibility of a voluntary “check off” program for equine organizations to apply to show entries or starts to assist in funding Equine Research and EDCC. Rob Burke, US Eventing, provided an overview of their check off program to event starts that garnered about $40,000/year for research.
The American Horse Council wants to thank the guest speakers and presenters for your great presentations and continued contribution to the horse industry.
Racing Advisory Committee
The American Horse Council (AHC) Racing Advisory Committee met on June 10, 2019 in Washington DC as part of the AHC’s Annual meeting. Alex Waldrop, Chair called the meeting to order and approved minutes from June 2018. Information was given on several issues of affecting the horse industry.
Alex Waldrop updated information on the sports betting legislation explaining most legislative activity related to sports betting takes place at the state level. Sens. Hatch (R-UT) and Schumer (D-NY) introduced the “Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act” during the final days of 2018. Sen. Schumer has been talking about introducing a bill this year but has had difficulty identifying a GOP co-sponsor and DOJ’s recent opinion on the Wire Act and Rep. Pallone’s (D-NJ) opposition have combined to deter a federal legislative vehicle. The committee agreed racing should be allowed to be part of a sports betting program.
A discussion on the Guest Worker Visas, H-2B was started by Eric Hemelback summarizing meetings with Rep. Yoho who is working on a bill focusing on reforming the H-2A program to include equine workers. Bryan Brendle, AHC Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs, explained Rep. Bergman is working with Rep Yoho focusing on the H-2B portion. The legislation will clarify eligibility of horse industry participation in both guest worker visa programs. AHC is joining the steering committee of the H2B coalition and help vet legislative concepts and language including a “wish list” from unions. Alex Waldrop outlined the appropriations activity taking place allowing some flexibility for H-2B guest workers.
A proposal for a workforce development plan was introduced by Remi Bellocq from the University of Louisville. A discussion of a workforce certification program for the horse industry and developing a set of “core competencies,” describing the issue as a “major economic development.” This type of program will help the industry help itself and make a stronger case for the demand for guest worker visas. Recommendation working with the AHC as the umbrella industry group and advocacy arm for the workforce development initiative. The committee was impressed with Remi Bellocq’s presentation and urged a more detailed proposal for the AHC.
Information about the Horseracing Integrity Act was given by Alex Waldrop stating on March 14, 2019 Reps. Tonko (D-NY) and Barr (R-KY) re-introduced the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 (H.R. 1754) to regulate the use of drugs and medications in racing. As of June 6, 2019 legislation has gained 103 co-sponsors, having been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee with no scheduled hearing date.
Alex Waldrop explained in early 2018 Congress passed a “tax extenders” package including an important tax incentive to restore the Three Year Depreciation of Racehorses through the end of 2017. While the three-year depreciation measure is currently expired, Sens. Grassley (R-IA) and Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation to extend the incentives for two years, retroactive through 2018. Lauren Bazell of Alpine Group explained the difficult legislative environment hindering progress on any tax-related legislation. AHC will continue to work with members of the “aggie” coalition and other groups to pass tax extenders legislation in 2019.
Advance-Deposit Wagering (ADW) account holders credit card funding transactions are declining. Alex Waldrop described the problem the industry is facing in regards to credit card companies declining online betting transactions. Banks declining transactions include Bank of America, American Express, and Capital One. Chase is now accepting ADW accounts. There is also a problem with Google suppressing searches related to ADW and will not accept advertising money for sports betting.
The American Horse Council thanks all who attended and participated in the discussions held during the Racing Advisory Committee meeting contributing to its success.
Recreation, Trails, and Land Use Committee
Michelle Lane, Professional Staff Member at the State Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in the GOP Office was introduced as the guest speaker. Ms. Lane recapped the passage of the S. 47, “Lands Package” in February, discussing the law’s most important provision was the permanent re-authorization of the Land Water Conservation Fund. Two of the horse industry’s major priorities were the Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act and Restore Our Parks Act (ROPA) were not included in the final package. Ms. Lane explained only legislation gaining bipartisan consensus made it into the final bill. Since the RNR and ROPA are relatively expensive, they would be moved to a different track. Next steps related to the LWCF was on funding. Chairman Murkowski supports LWCF, she does not support mandatory full funding amounting to a $900 million annual expenditure. Ms. Lane expressed the committee would conduct a hearing on deferred maintenance issues.
The committee heard updates on several other bills impacting the horse industry:
- Natural Resources Committee and Related Activity from the House has been focusing more on climate issues and “park designations” than on specific trails agenda. Democratic staff are committed to conservation issues and will prioritize full funding of the LWCF, with the possibility of a hearing this summer.
- R. 1225/S.500 – Restore Our Parks Act – adopting a creative approach to fund trails initiatives by establishing a new revenue stream moving forward with deferred maintenance projects. Grassroots efforts have generated 129 letters to support ROPA, gaining more than 220 cosponsors in the house and 37 in the Senate; gaining 70 more cosponsors in the House, it will receive an automatic vote on the floor.
- Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act – Stalled last year due in part to budgetary issues. Staff with Rep. Barr’s (R-UT) express the congressman intends to re-introduce the RNR Act in the near future.
- 1665 – Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act – Has a striking resemblance to the RNR Act, receiving an endorsement from Democratic staff on the House Natural Resource Committee. The bill would streamline NFS permits by eliminating duplication and reducing red tape similar to the RNR act from last year.
- R. 1276 – American Public Lands Act – The act has gained 12 cosponsors and seeks to reaffirm federal management over public lands limiting conveyance of federal lands to non-federal entities or authorities.
- National Forest Service is moving forward with its “priority trails” designations and has established a productive working relationship with new agency staff.
- Jean Ligon, Michigan Horse Council discussed a public hearing in Michigan in May related to the management plan of a major trail in the Upper Peninsula. Horse groups and mountain bikers agreed there should be separate equestrian and biking uses for the trails in the Upper Peninsula. State horse councils are working with the NFS to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the NFS to clarify trail use. State horse councils would focus on communication with regional offices moving the MOU forward AHC, if necessary, would get involved at the national level to move the issue forward if the process becomes delayed. Lee (R- UT) re-introduced “Bikes in the Wilderness” legislation (S. 1695), which the industry opposes.
The American Horse Council wants to thank the presenters and attendees of the Recreation, Trails, and Land Use Committee meeting for making this year’s meeting a huge success.