Alexander Urges Agriculture Department to Extend Comment Period for Horse Protection Act Proposed Rule

Says there is a way to end the contemptible and illegal practice of horse soring while preserving the century-old Tennessee Walking Horse tradition

Posted on August 19, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 19, 2016 - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following statement on the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposed rule:

“I have zero tolerance for the contemptible and illegal practice of horse soring, which is why I introduced legislation to end illegal horse soring and punish and stop any trainer, owner or rider who engages in in this abhorrent practice, while preserving the century-old Tennessee Walking Horse tradition.”

Alexander continued, “I have also signed on to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s letter asking the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Animal Care to extend the comment period for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s proposed rule for 60 days as it is critical that APHIS provide interested stakeholders the necessary time to gather evidence and information for their comments.”

On July 26, APHIS published a proposed rule: “Horse Protection; Licensing of Designated Qualified Persons and Other Amendments.” The proposed rule would require APHIS to assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors and would also ban the use of all action devices. The proposed rule could have a significant negative effect on the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and the small businesses and communities benefiting from the industry. APHIS should work with impacted stakeholders, during the comment period for the proposed rule, to address potential impacts while protecting Tennessee Walking Horses.   

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.   

The full text of the letter follows:

Dr. Carter-Corker:

We are writing to request that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) extend by sixty (60) days the deadline for the submission of comments regarding the Proposed Rule entitled “Horse Protection; Licensing of Designated Qualified Persons and Other Amendments” (Docket No. APHIS-2011-0009), which would significantly change regulations associated with the Horse Protection Act.

It is our understanding that APHIS has used limited feedback from members of the industry in developing the proposed rule.  The notice of proposed rulemaking invites data submissions on proposed provisions that require significant time to accurately compile.  For these reasons, it is critical that APHIS provide the necessary time for stakeholders to gather evidence and information to submit substantive responses.  We request that APHIS extend the deadline for the initial comment period of the Proposed Rule by sixty (60) days.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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