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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 email@example.com or 202-296-4031.[post_title] => House Appropriators Score Win for Horse Industry, Advance H-2B Visa Cap Relief! [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => advance-h-2b-visa-cap-relief [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-26 13:28:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-26 18:28:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.horsecouncil.org/?post_type=washington-report&p=3683 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => washington-report [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 3682 [post_author] => 2199 [post_date] => 2018-06-29 17:03:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-29 22:03:40 [post_content] => June 29th, 2018 Senate Acts Quickly to Move Farm Bill, Advances Some Animal Health Priorities Following through on a commitment to pass a farm bill prior to the Fourth of July recess, on Thursday evening, June 28, the Senate passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3042) by a vote of 86 to 11. Unlike the House version of the bill that narrowly passed by a two vote margin on June 21, the Senate bill moved forward with strong, bipartisan support. Fortunately for the horse industry, the Senate package resembles the House version by addressing many of the sector’s top animal health priorities. Highlights include authorization of a new National Animal Disaster Preparedness and Response (NADPR) program; support for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN); and creation of the National Animal Health Vaccine Bank that will focus on risks posed by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). With respect to authorization of animal health programs, a preliminary review shows that the Senate bill more closely aligns with horse industry priorities than the House bill. For example, the Senate bill authorizes $30 million each year to fund the NAHLN, matching the request from the horse industry and its partners. Although the bill doesn’t authorize specific dollar amounts for the NADPR and the vaccine banks, it creates flexibility by “authorizing sums as necessary” to implement the programs. AHC will continue to review the senate version of the bill for provisions that could impact the industry, including programs administered by the Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service that could help develop international markets for the sector. Now that each chamber has reported its respective bill, Congress will convene a House and Senate Conference Committee to negotiate a final package to send to the White House for enactment. AHC is already reaching out to congressional negotiators to underscore the industry’s priorities as the legislation moves forward. For more information related to farm legislation and related advocacy, please contact Bryan Brendle, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at 202-296-4031. To view a copy of a summary of the bill, please click here: https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/2018-farm-bill [post_title] => Senate Acts Quickly to Move Farm Bill, Advances Some Animal Health Priorities [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => senate-acts-quickly-to-move-farm-bill-advances-some-animal-health-priorities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-08-21 02:07:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-08-21 07:07:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.horsecouncil.org/?post_type=washington-report&p=3682 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => washington-report [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 3681 [post_author] => 2810 [post_date] => 2018-06-21 16:39:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-21 21:39:20 [post_content] =>
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.[post_title] => Farm Bill, Take 2! House Lawmakers Pass Ag Legislation, Boost Animal Health Programs [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => farm-bill-take-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-21 16:39:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-21 21:39:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.horsecouncil.org/?post_type=washington-report&p=3681 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => washington-report [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 3013 [post_author] => 2810 [post_date] => 2018-06-19 08:27:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-19 13:27:38 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_3017" align="alignleft" width="371"] Allyn Mann of Luitpold Animal Health addresses attendees[/caption]
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).[post_title] => Attendees Capitalize on AHC Issues Forum [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => attendees-capitalize-on-ahc-issues-forum [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:27:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-19 13:27:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.horsecouncil.org/?post_type=press-release&p=3013 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => press-release [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 6 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 3936 [post_author] => 2955 [post_date] => 2018-10-01 14:00:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-01 19:00:36 [post_content] => October 1, 2018 Horse Industry Gathers in DC, Moves Key Priorities Toward the Finish Line! On Wednesday, September 26 and Thursday, September 27, horse industry representatives gathered in Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and advocate for passage of the industry’s top legislative priorities. During a meeting with leaders of the Congressional Horse Caucus and other industry allies on September 26, members learned more about positive developments related to a funding boost for equine assisted therapy and industry-specific provisions of the 2018 farm bill and guest worker visa legislation. Prospects for another enforcement delay for the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and progress on trails legislation also emerged as reasons to run into the home-stretch of the 115th Congress on a high note. During the two day meeting series, horse industry advocates met in the offices of more than 35 elected officials. Below are summaries of highlights emerging from the Fall “Ride-In.” Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) Emerges as a Win-Win for Heroes and Horses Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) briefed horse industry representatives on the latest boost to EAT funding included in the new FY2019 Veterans’ Affairs spending bill, which the president signed into law on September 21. The new law increases EAT funding to $1.5 million, a 50 percent increase from FY2018 levels. Rep. Barr (R-KY) spoke passionately about the dual benefits to veterans returning to civilian life, and the opportunities for working horses to have “second careers” as therapeutic animals. Studies show that EAT can effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts many U.S. veterans. Farm Legislation Includes Cutting-Edge Animal Health Programs, Lawmakers Address Industry-Specific Statutory Definition While the industry has successfully advocated for a trifecta of livestock health programs in both versions of the farm bill – creation of the National Animal Health Vaccine bank, a new National Disaster Preparedness Program and support for the National Animal Health and Laboratory Network - differences over the scope of nutrition assistance programs have stalled agreement on a final package. House Agriculture Committee Vice Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) informed AHC that he believed that the House and Senate would ultimately find common ground on a final bill before the end of the year. Echoing statements made during several meetings, Rep. Thompson (R-PA) also expressed optimism that the final bill would drop language included in the senate version that defines horses as “pets” within the context of a “Pet and Women Safety” (PAWS) provision. Industry has suggested that lawmakers delete “horses” from the proposed, statutory definition of “pets,” but retain “horses” as a stand-alone category. This would retain the long-standing classification of horses as “livestock,” while allowing equines to fall within the scope of property damage subject to compensation within the parameters of the PAWS Act. Congressional Allies Continue to Fight for Guest-Worker Visa Flexibility, Equine-Specific Labor Needs House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) discussed the AG and Legal Workforce Act of 2018 (H.R. 6417), which would reform the broken agricultural guest worker visa program. Among other benefits to the industry, the legislation clearly states that personnel involved in the “management and training of equines” will qualify to participate in a newly-created H-2C visa program for farm workers. Since Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the bill in late June, it has gained 110 co-sponsors. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) discussed a second vehicle important to the industry, his provision in the FY2019 DHS (H.R. 6776) appropriation which addresses the stringent 66,000 cap imposed on the issuance of H-2B visas by providing an exemption for returning workers. This “returning worker” exemption not only provides much needed cap relief, but will reduce red tape for seasonal employers. Congress will likely not finalize the bill until after the November election. Will Trails Legislation Cross the Finish Line? House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) lauded the fact that both the Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act (H.R. 3400) and the Restore Our Parks Act (H.R. 6510) passed his committee favorably, and are placed on the House calendar for a possible vote before the end of the year. While neither companion bill in the Senate has yet received a hearing, senate aides stated that there was reason to be optimistic that Restore Our Parks (S. 3172) would receive a hearing in the fall. Of the two major trails bills that the horse industry supports, it appears that Restore Our Parks, which would address backlog trails maintenance, has the better chance of crossing the finish line before the end of the year. Stay tuned. Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act Gains Supporters No new information emerged during the meeting series to raise the prospects for passage of the PAST Act. However, the Senate version of the bill (S. 2957) has gained 32 cosponsors. Sen. Crapo’s (R-ID) office stated that they were optimistic that the bill would have no shortage of supporters during the next congress. AHC will continue to keep you updated on any changes to the prospects for this important equine health legislation. Horse Industry Focuses on Congressional Leaders, Leverages Message While the bulk of the Hill meetings during the ride-in focused on constituent-specific officials, the industry also met with leaders who have jurisdiction over the sector’s major legislative issues. Horse industry representatives were able to meet with chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and House Natural Resources Committee, as well as the Vice Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. On the Senate side, AHC members and guests talked to senior staff in the offices of the Senate Majority Leader and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, among others. If you’d like more information related to the meeting series and next steps, please contact Bryan Brendle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-296-4031. Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and David Valadao (R-CA) kick off a meeting of the Congressional Horse Caucus. [post_title] => Horse Industry Gathers in DC, Moves Key Priorities Toward the Finish Line! 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