Posted on January 14, 2017
Urges zero tolerance for illegal horse soring while preserving important industry
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 14, 2017 - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a rule that would give the agency authority to ban all action devices and require USDA selected inspectors:
"I am in favor of wiping out the contemptible and illegal practice of horse soring, not wiping out the century old tradition of showing Tennessee Walking Horses as this rule could do. I and other members of Congress introduced legislation last Congress that would end horse soring. I would hope the new Secretary of Agriculture will not concur with this overreaching rule announced during the last few days of the Obama administration and instead will work with Congress to enact legislation that punishes trainers, owners and riders who abuse horses while preserving the opportunity for law abiding horse enthusiasts to participate in competitions that are the basis of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.”
The Tennessee Walking Horse industry supports more than 20,000 jobs nationwide and pumps $3.2 billion into the nation’s economy. In 2014, there were more than 350 shows contributing millions of dollars to local economies. There are 275,000 walking horses registered nationwide, including over 90,000 walking horses in Tennessee, and more than 40,000 in Kentucky.
On Jan. 13, USDA published the final rule: “Horse Protection: Licensing of Designated Qualified Persons and Other Amendments.” The final rule requires USDA to assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors and bans the use of all action devices. The final rule could have a significant negative effect on the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and the small businesses and communities benefiting from the industry.
Last year, Alexander signed on to Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s letter asking the Assistant Deputy Administrator to extend the comment period for this proposed rule for at least 60 days to provide the necessary time to gather evidence and information. In the last Congress, Alexander, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation to take additional steps to end horse soring, while preserving the Tennessee Walking Horse tradition.
For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.