YOUR SOURCE OF INFORMATION ABOUT CURRENT ISSUES IN THE TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE INDUSTRY
FINAL RULE GOES TO OMB..... CAN BE ENACTED ANYTIME.....
FINAL RULE TO BE PUBLISHED NEXT WEEK JUST PRIOR TO INAUGURATION
On April 1, 2016 the United States Department of Agriculture notified the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs of its intent to engage in a rulemaking in regard to the Horse Protection Act. The description of that intent indicates that a major portion of the PAST ACT, which was written and backed by the Humane Society of the United States, and possibly the entire bill would be enacted through this rulemaking process, and thus bypass a vote on the bill in Congress. As written the PAST Act makes illegal the use of action devices, weighted shoes and pads by the Tennessee Walking Horse, the Racking Horse and the Spotted Saddle Horse at horse shows. There is no indication at this time whether or not that list will be broadened to include other breeds such as the Saddlebred, Hackney and Morgan. The PAST Act also expands government overreach by removing the HIO system and replacing it with what would effectively be agents of the federal government. It also amplifies the penalties, possibly eliminating for life a horse found in violation by an inspector, of the highly subjective scar rule. When these regulations are finalized the only recourse for the industry is through the court system. We anticipate that the legal fees to fight those regulations will be substantial.
USDA Announces Changes Aimed at Ending the Inhumane Practice of Horse Soring
Friday, January 13, 2017
WASHINGTON, January 13, 2016--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced a final rule that includes changes that will help to protect horses from the cruel and inhumane practice known as soring and eliminate the unfair competitive advantage that sore horses have over horses that are not sore. The practice of soring is intended to produce a high stepping gait through the use of action devices, caustic chemicals, and other practices that cause horses to suffer, or reasonably be expected to suffer physical pain, distress, inflammation, or lameness while walking or moving.
APHIS enforces the HPA, which is a Federal law that makes it unlawful for any person to show, exhibit, sell, or transport sore horses, or to use any equipment, device, paraphernalia, or substance in such events that the USDA prohibits to prevent the soring of horses. APHIS works actively with the horse industry to eliminate such inhumane practices and the resulting unfair competition they create at HPA-covered events.
The final rule addresses recommendations made by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General following an audit of APHIS’ horse protection program, which found the existing industry-led inspection program to be inadequate for ensuring compliance with the HPA. The rule also seeks to address the substantial noncompliance that continues to exist among Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses and the relationship that continues to exist between the use of certain prohibited items and soring in horses, such as the use of permitted action devices alone or in conjunction with prohibited substances.
Under the final regulation—
· APHIS will license, train, and oversee independent, third party inspectors, known as Horse Protection Inspectors, and establish the licensing eligibility requirements to reduce conflicts of interest. This will alleviate Horse Industry Organizations of all regulatory requirements.
· Expanded equipment prohibitions apply to Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses involving the use of action devices and associated lubricants, and pads and wedges unless used for therapeutic veterinary treatment.
· Management of HPA-covered events must keep and submit certain records to APHIS, provide Horse Protection Inspectors 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.
Strengthening the HPA regulations and enforcement of alleged violations of the HPA, will best position APHIS to achieve the Congressional purposes of the HPA – ending the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses and unfair competition. In addition, the prohibitions on the use of action devices and pads (with certain exceptions) are consistent with recommendations made by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and leading industry standards for equestrian sports.
This final rule will be publish in the Federal Register in the coming days. A copy of the rule that was submitted to the Federal Register can be viewed here.
The changes regarding the prohibitions on the use of action devices and associated lubricants for exhibitors of Tennessee Walking horses and racking horses, along with the training and licensing of inspectors will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The rest of the rule will be effective January 1, 2018.
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