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July, 26 2018

House Appropriators Score Win for Horse Industry, Advance H-2B Visa Cap Relief!

On July 25, the House Appropriations Committee convened a mark-up for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  By voice vote, the committee approved an amendment that exempts returning workers from the 66,000 statutory cap imposed on the H-2B guest worker visa program, providing much needed H-2B visa cap relief advocated by the horse industry and its allies.  The amendment, offered by Congressional Horse Caucus Members Rep. Andy Harris, MD (R-MD) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), among others, applies to workers who have received guest worker visas during the previous two years.  Additionally, the provision also establishes a visa allocation system that disburses work permits on a quarterly basis.  Lawmakers believe that the quarterly system will create more flexibility for employers whose labor demands do not align with the semi-annual allocation system, whereby DHS awards permits on April 1 and October 1.  The horse industry and its allies in the H-2B Coalition fight for a variety of flexibility measures, including a straight-forward increase in the visa cap, or generous exemptions from the statutory cap, such as those for returning workers. 

Pointing to another flexibility measure, Rep. Harris (R-MD) released a statement explaining the importance of a provision that allocates visas on a “proportional” rather than a “winner take all” basis.  Under this provision, DHS would award a portion of all timely, requested visas to all applicants, even in the event that “the higher limits authorized by [the] amendment are not enough to satisfy all the needs in a given year.”  To view a copy of Rep. Harris’s statement, please click here:  https://harris.house.gov/media/press-releases/house-appropriations-committee-approves-harris-language-repairing-h-2b-visa.   

While the House spending bill advances the goal of effectively raising the H-2B visa cap, the Senate version of the bill doesn’t address the H-2B visa issue, setting up an item to be negotiated during a House and Senate conference.  Although lawmakers intend to finalize their spending measures before the current FY ends on September 30, this is a deadline that Congress rarely meets.   As in years past, Congress may pass a series of “continuing resolutions” to fund the federal government.  AHC will keep you posted on developments related to the H-2B measure as the FY2019 appropriations process moves forward.  To view a copy of the three-page amendment, please click here: https://www.horsecouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/HARRMD_037_xml-offered-2-1.pdf

If you’d like more information related to the guest worker issue, including ongoing grassroots outreach from the horse industry, please contact Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org or 202-296-4031. 

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June 21, 2018

House Lawmakers Pass Ag Legislation, Boost Animal Health Programs

In the wake of a failed vote on the 2018 farm bill on May 18 – largely precipitated by controversy surrounding unrelated immigration policy issues - on June 21, House lawmakers revisited the legislation and finally passed the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) by a vote of 213 to 211.  Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he plans to pass companion legislation in the upper chamber before July 4, Congress appears to be poised to finalize a bill prior to expiration of Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs on September 30.  During meetings on Capitol Hill the week of June 11, multiple senate offices echoed a commitment to the deadline, reminding members of the horse industry that the chamber is prepared to work into the August recess to complete its legislative business prior to the mid-term elections in the fall.         

Fortunately for the horse industry, the $868 billion, five-year package includes provisions addressing some of AHC’s top priorities:  authorization of a new National Animal Disaster Preparedness and Response (NADPR) program; additional support for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network; and creation of the National Animal Health Vaccine Bank that will prioritize risks posed by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), among other threats. 

A preliminary review of the bill shows that although lawmakers generally met industry’s full funding request - totaling $250 million for the priority issues outlined above - for FY2019 only, the bill reduces those funds during subsequent fiscal years.  For example, the horse industry and its partners requested $70 million each year to fund the NADPR, but received $30 million for 2020 and beyond.  Fortunately for the horse industry, the final bill authorizes $150 million for a “priority FMD vaccine bank,” opening the door for funding vaccines that will mitigate other diseases.

AHC will continue to advocate for industry priorities as the legislation moves forward.  To view a copy of the legislation, please click here: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr2/BILLS-115hr2rh.pdf.   

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June 19, 2018

Presentations provided valuable insight to all segments of the industry

(Washington, DC)- On Tuesday, June 12th, attendees of the American Horse Council’s (AHC) 2018 National Issues Forum, sponsored by Luitpold Animal Health, gathered to learn more about the theme of “Let’s Capitalize On It!” With a variety of speakers from different trades, attendees gained valuable insight as to how the horse industry can learn from other industries, utilize data that has been collected about our own industry, and capitalize on opportunities to grow and expand interests in horses.

[caption id="attachment_3018" align="alignleft" width="456"] Luis Benitez, Director, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office[/caption]

The Morning Session started with Luis Benitez, the director of the newly created Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC). OREC is one of only seven offices in the nation that provides a central point of contact, advocacy and resources at the state level for the diverse constituents, businesses and communities that rely on the continued health of the outdoor recreation industry. He spoke about how the recreation industry has become innovative in its way to get people to experience the outdoors, and how the equine industry can draw on those innovations to introduce people to horses. “When you drive innovations, you cultivate healthy outdoor lifestyles,” said Mr. Benitez. “When you conserve public lands and waters, you spark sustainable economic development for the outdoor recreation industry.” He left the crowd with his trademark message: “If you really challenge yourself, you can truly change your world.”

[caption id="attachment_3019" align="alignleft" width="390"] Survey Says Panel, L-R: Charlotte Hansen, AVMA; Jody McDaniel, USDA-NASS; Tom Zitt, The Innovation Group[/caption]

The “Survey Says” panel featured Charlotte Hansen from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Jody McDaniel of the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistical service (USDA-NASS), and Tom Zitt of The Innovation Group. They examined the various equine-related studies that each organization has undertaken, and the differences between them. “There has been confusion with the differences between AVMA’s Pet Study, USDA-NASS Equine census, and the AHC’s Economic Impact Study,” said AHC President Julie Broadway. “This panel was helpful in showcasing the differences in the data that each collects, and how we can continue to use the data from each to seek new opportunities to advance the industry.”

[caption id="attachment_3014" align="alignright" width="432"] Youth Panel Participants, L-R: Rachel Piacenza, Take Me Fishing; Ivan Levin, Outdoor Nationa; Kylie Good, AQHyA; Ty Cornelius, AQHyA; Katie Blodgett, PGA First Tee[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3015" align="alignleft" width="429"] Dan Ashe, Association of Zoos & Aquariums[/caption]

Closing out the Morning Session was the “Building the Youth Pipeline” Panel featuring Katie Blodgett of PGA First Tee, Ivan Levin of Outdoor Nation, and Rachel Piacenza of Take Me Fishing. A consistent theme throughout their presentations was that participants are aging out of their respective industry areas, and their organizations are coming up with new and exciting ways to target the younger generation. “Of course, each industry has their own unique challenges,” said Ms. Broadway. “This panel was helpful to show attendees that the horse industry is not the only industry creating new initiatives to reach out and get newcomers involved. It was also great to see how some organizations are integrating leadership development into their programs, and finding ways to make newcomers first experience fun and memorable so they keep coming back.”

Kicking off the Afternoon Session was Dan Ashe, CEO of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, where he discussed animal welfare and conservation issues that zoos and aquariums face. “Throughout my career at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, including nearly six as director, I had the opportunity to work closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as AZA-accredited facilities, on numerous occasions,” said Mr. Ashe. “As we move deeper into the 21st century, we face a complicated conservation landscape and effective conservation will demand broader and stronger partnerships.”

“The AZA community collectively brings more people face-to-face with wild animals in a way that no other organizations can match. Connecting that many people to wildlife and nature provides a powerful opportunity for us to engage them in efforts to save endangered wildlife and wild habitats around the globe,” continued Mr. Ashe. Like the equine industry, AZA-accredited facilities play influential roles in their communities- they create jobs, stimulate economic activity, and serve as an environment for families to enjoy a day with nature.

Attendees were also treated to a presentation from the Man O’ War Project, which is a program that is developing and testing Equine Assisted Treatment for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Founded by Earle I. Mack, the program also uses thoroughbreds from rescue facilities to work with the veterans. “Saving veterans AND saving horses,” said Ann Poulson, Executive Director of the Man O’ War Project. “PTSD is the signature disorder among returning veterans,” said Dr. Prudence Fisher, one of the researchers at Columbia University who is involved with the project. “Up to 30% of veterans suffer from PTSD, including many veterans from previous eras who remain symptomatic. Because of this, they have an increased suicide rate- approximately 20 veterans a day commit suicide.” The Man O’ War Project is also putting concrete data with the treatment- veterans undergo MRI scans to compare brain regions before and after working with the horses.

Trending on the theme of rescue, an Equine Aftercare Panel with Erin Crady of Thoroughbred Charities of America, Kristin Werner-Leshney of The Jockey Club, and Russell Williams of United States Trotting Association (USTA) spoke on the different initiatives their respective organizations are doing to help horses in the rescue pipeline and move them on to second careers.

Finally, a Congressional Panel of Laurie Flanagan from the H-2B Coalition and Stephanie Gadbois from the House Judiciary Committee briefly discussed the status of the H-2B program as well as the Agricultural Guest Worker Act introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.

After the Afternoon Session, attendees participated in breakout discussion sessions on issues such as Disaster Preparedness & Response, Safe Sport, Immigration & Visa Challenges, Import/Export, and Data & Trends- Next Steps.

[caption id="attachment_3020" align="alignleft" width="403"] L-R: Rep. Paul Tonko, AHC President Julie Broadway, Rep. Andy Barr[/caption]

Closing out the National Issues Forum was the Congressional Reception, which was widely attended by both meeting attendees, as well as several Congressional members, including Congressional Horse Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Rep. Paul Tonko )D-NY).

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June 15, 2018

Chrystine Tauber Named Vice-Chair

(Washington, DC)- James L. Gagliano, President & Chief Operating Officer of The Jockey Club, was elected as the next Chairman of the American Horse Council’s (AHC) Board of Trustees during the AHC’s Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum. Gagliano succeeds Dr. Jerry Black who served as Chairman the past three years.

[caption id="attachment_3009" align="alignleft" width="291"] James Gagliano[/caption]

“I’m honored to lead the American Horse Council Board and follow the very successful tenure of Dr. Jerry Black,” said Gagliano. “Dr. Black set a very high bar for the AHC, leading the successful transition from longtime President Jay Hickey to current President Julie Broadway, updating the organization’s strategic plan, and completing the first comprehensive Economic Impact Study of the United States Equine Industry in 14 years.”

Gagliano became President & COO of The Jockey Club in 2010, where he had previously served as Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer since 2005. Prior to joining The Jockey Club, he served as Executive Vice President of Magna Entertainment Corporation’s Maryland racing operations, where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Maryland Jockey Club. Prior to this role, Gagliano served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Greenwood Racing Inc., and worked in various roles during a ten-year stint with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Since October 2010, he has also served as Vice-Chairman on the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Executive Council, representing the Americas.  Gagliano was also elected to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Board of Directors in December 2016.

“It’s critical that the horse industry continue to work to confront crucial issues collectively. The challenge for the AHC in the coming years will be to work to continue to foster collaborative relationships and move the industry forward as a whole,” continued Gagliano.

Chrystine J. Tauber, Past-President of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), was also elected as Vice-Chairman of the Board. Tauber was also a founding officer and Vice President of the U. S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) for eight years. Tauber is also a Board member of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation, the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, and the USHJA Wheeler Museum. Tauber also served as Team Manager for all U.S. teams at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, the 1983 and 1987 Pan Am Games, and for the Show Jumping World Championships in 1982 and 1986.

[caption id="attachment_3008" align="alignleft" width="221"] Chrystine Tauber[/caption]

"The USEF is a strong supporter of the AHC's mission to advocate for the social, legislative, and economic interests of the United States equine industry," said Tauber. "As we move forward to confront emerging issues that affect our diverse industry, ensuring that the we have a voice on Capitol Hill is more critical than ever. I look forward to working with AHC Board and staff to advance our newly defined mission and create greater opportunities for the equestrian community in the United States."

The AHC Board of Trustees consists of 17 total members: James Gagliano (Chair, The Jockey Club), Chrystine Tauber (Vice-Chair, USEF), Dr. Jerry Black (AAEP), Dr. Glenn Blodgett (AQHA), Marilyn Breuer-Bertera (USTA), Dr. Eleanor Green (AQHA), Craig Huffhines (AQHA), Matt Iuliano (The Jockey Club), Dr. Tom Lenz (AAEP), Don Marean (USTA), Dr. Richard Mitchell (USEF), Bill Thomason (Keeneland), Alex Waldrop (NTRA), Russell Williams (USTA), Joe Wilson (Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America), Billy Smith (American Paint Horse Association), and Jean Ligon (Coalition of State Horse Councils). The full Board of Trustees list can also be viewed on the AHC website here: https://www.horsecouncil.org/board-of-trustees/.

Photos available upon request

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