"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, June 2, 2011

NEWS and HOW YOU CAN HELP - Rep. Hal Rogers Trying to Shut Down the USDA's Efforts

I will get to part three of the Q&A session soon. We have a more pressing issue that needs to be addressed at this time.

My friends, we are dealing with a repeat of what Senator Mitch McConnell tried to do in 2008--trying to shut down the USDA and their efforts to end soring.

I found out that House Representative Hal Rogers from Kentucky is working with the House of Representatives to force the USDA to stop making changes to the HPA to further enforce the law. The American Horse Council, who is supposed to be HELPING the horse industry, approves of a 2012 USDA Funding Bill with included "provisions of interest to the horse industry" that includes the following from the HPA portion of the provisions of interest from the AHC's website. Click here for the web page.

Horse Protection Act

The bill would set funding for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act at $500,000 for FY 2012, the same level as FY 2011, but $400,000 less than the President’s request. Additionally, the Committee included the following language in the committee report concerning the Horse Protection Act:

The Committee directs APHIS to apply its resources towards the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act for the most egregious violators and/or offenders of the Act. USDA should continue to use all options necessary to maintain industry self-regulation and an effective DQP (Designated Qualified Person) program, including the use of more open and transparent communications with the Horse Industry Organizations (HIO). Even though APHIS did communicate with the HIOs at various points in the process leading up to the implementation of the mandatory penalty protocol, the Committee believes that APHIS would have been more effective in meeting the requirements of the Act and developed a more cooperative arrangement with the HIOs if the agency would have utilized the notice and comment rulemaking process. The Committee will mandate alternative action if it believes that APHIS has not exercised fairness and due process in the regulation of the industry.

Let's point out two big facts. The AHC is clearly ignoring, or hasn't been told about the fact, that the OIG has determined that the current enforcement efforts are completely inadequate and need to change.

Let's also point out that Dr. Gipson clearly said in the Q&A session (part 2 on my blog) that the USDA has tried to work with the industry but has consistently been met with resistance. So the USDA has already put forth the proposed provision but has been denied that cooperation.

I have found out that Rep. Rogers has been working behind the scenes and getting TWH industry people and his fellow senators to vote for this new funding with the provisions indicated. He is doing this secretly so the general public doesn't know about it. Here's the link to his statement to the committee about the FY 2012 funding bill.

Let's remember: the industry is only acting like this because they're afraid they're going to continue to be caught. They know they're guilty of breaking the law, and they want to continue to keep things status quo. We as the sound horse supporters need to make our voices known. Therefore, we need letters, and LOTS of them. Here's what you need to do.

First, get your letters and phone calls in to the AHC. REMEMBER: your letters need to be short and to the point, and foul language or hateful words are not effective. Educate them as to the fact that the OIG found the current HPA enforcements as inadequate, and talk about how the industry has consistently refused to accept the USDA's enforcement penalties and efforts to come to compromises. Point out that allowing the industry to continue to police itself has not worked for the past 30 plus years, and it's not going to start working anytime soon.

The AHC contacts are:

James J. Hickey, Jr.

Ben Pendergrass
Legislative Director
202-296-4031 ext. 207

Next, write to your local House Representative and to reps in states such as Tennessee, Kentucky, Washington DC, Louisiana, Arkansas, California, Ohio, Texas, and other areas where soring is present. Tell them the same things you tell the AHC. To do this, click here to go to the House of Representative website. Click on "Representatives" to go to the page for Reps. If you scroll down, you can find your state and other states. Click on the name to go to that Rep's page, and then click their contact button to contact them.

Finally, contact your local newspapers, horse clubs, and various other groups you can find to help send in letters. Below is my letter that I am sending out today. Feel free to use some of the language, but don't include it word for word--each letter needs to be different. Write your own, and feel free to include any pertinent information you believe needs to be included.

Dr. Gipson said in the Q&A Session that the public has been "crying for years" for this abuse to stop, and that they are listening to us. This is key! We must be the voice for the horse when they have none. We are the ones who need to see the law upheld and end this madness. Please send in your letters and make those phone calls. Let's fill up their voicemail and inboxes with education about the horse and why the abuse continues.


Dear X:

I am writing to you in response to the proposed FY 2012 USDA Funding Bill. This bill includes "provisions of interest to the horse industry," as detailed on the American Horse Council website. Representative Hal Rogers is the head of the committee that came up with these provisions, which includes a provision to basically not make any more changes to the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and to continue enforcing it as they have done in the past. The HPA is a federal law that prohibits soring, the use of mechanical or chemical means to cause pain in a horse's limbs in order to exaggerate the natural movement of the horse for showing purposes.

In 2010, the Office of Inspector General did a full inspection of the HPA enforcement program. As quoted from the OIG Audit Report 33601-2-KC dated September 2010: "We found that APHIS’ program for inspecting horses for soring is not adequate to ensure that these animals are not being abused." The House cannot ignore the fact that the OIG has audited the APHIS and that the current way of inspection is not adequate. Therefore, keeping it the same is going against the OIG's findings in their audit.

On May 27, 2011, Dr. Chester A. Gipson from the USDA APHIS stated on a conference call stakeholder's meeting concerning new regulations for the HPA that the USDA has continually tried to work with the industry but has been met with resistance. Consequently, the USDA continues to find that soring is still the primary form of forcing the exaggerated movement in the show ring, as is evident by the amount of violations that can be viewed on their website. The HPA has been in place since 1976 and soring is still present in the industry, when it should have been eliminated.

I understand that Rep. Rogers and his supporters are working behind the scenes to force these provisions of interest through. I ask you, as an elected Representative, to please reconsider Rep. Rogers' efforts. We need to uphold the law and allow the USDA the authority to enforce this law by any means necessary as detailed in The HPA, U.S. Code Title 15, Chapter 44, Sections 1827 and 1828. There is a dire need in this country to see our lawmakers making decisions that help uphold the current laws, not to go backwards in our efforts to do so. Please consider these facts when casting your vote concerning this bill.


Me, My State


cubnil said...

I like your letter although the last paragraph is rather vague.. It is not clear enought as to what Sen. Rogers stance is on the issue.

katphoti said...

Thanks, cubnil. Rogers' stance is that he wants things to continue as is, that is to keep the HIO and DQP system in place and to keep the USDA from making changes to it. Currently, the USDA is implementing new policies and penalties protocols that the industry does not like. This is Rogers' way of trying to keep the USDA from doing their job.

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