AHC Opposes Easing of Import Restrictions on Horses from Saudi Arabia
The American Horse Council has opposed the easing of the current 60-day U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) import requirement on horses from Saudi Arabia.
Horses from Saudi Arabia, and all countries affected with African Horse Sickness (AHS), must be quarantined for sixty days before entering the U.S., while horses from non-AHS countries may be admitted with a shorter quarantine period. The extended period is required to ensure that horses from AHS countries are not infected with AHS, which has a long incubation period. AHS is a highly contagious and deadly disease that affects horses, donkeys, and mules and has a mortality rate of up to 95% in naive horse populations like that in the U.S.
In response to a 2009 request by Saudi Arabia to be recognized as free of AHS, USDA studied the status of the disease in that country. The USDA evaluation used information provided by Saudi Arabia and other sources. Based on its evaluation, USDA concluded that AHS was not known to be present in Saudi Arabia and that the likelihood of introducing AHS into the U.S. through imports of horses from that country was low. But USDA also concluded that “the biological and economic consequences of an AHS outbreak in the United States could be high.” In June, USDA proposed to change the federal import rules to remove Saudi Arabia from the list of countries affected by AHS and allow horses to be imported with a much shorter quarantine period.
In lengthy comments filed with the Department on August 11, the AHC opposed removing Saudi Arabia from the list of countries affected with AHS. The AHC maintained that the potential benefits were not sufficient to offset the potential adverse consequences, which included the high mortality rate, up to 95%; the costs of caring for or euthanizing and disposing of sick horses; the imposition of interstate and international controls and travel restrictions on equine movements, which is so important to the industry, that would accompany an outbreak; and the resultant economic affects and lost revenue to the industry in breeding, racing, showing and exhibiting horses.
The AHC noted that most of the U.S.’s trading partners, and particularly the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), did not recognize Saudi Arabia as AHS-free. The AHC also questioned whether USDA or the industry itself would have the resources to respond to an AHS outbreak.
The AHC concluded that the USDA evaluation did not make a sufficient case to change the rules and put U.S. horses and the $102 billion U.S. horse industry at risk of AHS.
Vet Mobility Act Signed Into Law
On Friday, August 1, President Obama signed into law an American Horse Council (AHC) supported bill, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, making it legal for veterinarians to provide the care necessary to horses away from their licensed place of practice and across state lines.
Previously, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) believed that veterinarians were in violation of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) and prohibited them from transporting, administering or dispensing any controlled substances which are necessary for the veterinarian when attempting to care for the safety and well-being of the horse beyond their licensed locations.
The new language reads, “a registrant who is a veterinarian shall not be required to have a separate registration in order to transport and dispense controlled substances in the usual course of veterinary practice at a site other than the registrant’s registered principal place of business or professional practice, so long as the site of transporting and dispensing is located in a State where the veterinarian is licensed to practice veterinary medicine and is not a principal place of business or professional practice.”
The AHC is unaware of how the DEA will react to this or whether they will issue new guidance or change their registration process in any way to reflect this new provision.
The AHC would like to thank Congress and the President for this important legislation that allows veterinarians to continue caring for the well-being of horses without any fear of being in violation of the CSA.
AHC’s Issues Forum Asks “Where Are All the Horses”?
On June 24, the American Horse Council held its National Issues Forum, sponsored by Luitpold, the makers of Adequan, in Washington, DC. The forum featured speakers from across the horse industry discussing “Where Have All the Horses Gone.” Leaders from breed registries, racing, showing, the various disciplines, veterinarians and other stakeholders spoke about the decline in registered horses and the impact on their segment of the horse industry. Continue reading
Vet Mobility Act Passed by Congress
Congress has passed the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act by voice vote. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho of Florida (R-FL), both of whom are veterinarians and Senator Angus King (I-ME) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). The AHC has strongly supported this bill. Continue reading
Industry Leaders Meet at AHC Conference in Washington
The 45th annual meeting of the American Horse Council was held in Washington, DC in late June. It drew nearly 200 attendees, including industry leaders from 50 organizations, members of Congress and staff, and federal regulatory agency staff. Photos from the meeting are posted on the AHC’s website. Continue reading
We are hosting the second annual Ride the Range as part of our Western Days event September 12th-14th. This will include three days of horseback riding, arena games, and western entertainment. I am hoping that you will share this on your site, as well as your Facebook, for all of your followers to see. Thanks so much and please visit BoiseStageStop.org/western-days for details.