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.
James J. Hickey, Jr.
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.
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