Skip to content

AHPA v. USDA Heats Up

Posted March 14, 2001

by Flannery Davis

copyright 2001

On Feb. 28, 2001, the USDA filed its reply to the American Horse Protection Association’s latest memorandum, which opposed the USDA’s motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. AHPA filed its original suit against the USDA on January 8, 2001. The suit is an attempt to stop the USDA from implementing the 2001-2003 operating plan.

In its latest memorandum the USDA attempts to show that its interpretation of the Horse Protection Act and Regulations is accurate and that AHPA’s is not. In addition to the language of the law, one of the critical components of the case is the intent of Congress when it passed the law. AHPA argues that Congress clearly intended that enforcement of the HPA be made stronger when it passed the 1978 regulations that strengthen the original act, but that USDA’s use of HIOs and DQPs weakens enforcement. The USDA, however, argues that: “Plaintiff’s selective and distorted version of the statute [HPA] and Operating Plan are insufficient to demonstrate that the agency’s [USDA’s] action is inconsistent with the plain language and intent of Congress.” The USDA memorandum also states: “(AHPA) presents an interpretation of the Horse Protection Act that is unrelated to the actual langage and intent of the statute as a whole...”.

According to its previously filed briefs in the case, AHPA believes that the HPA gave show management the ability to hire designated qualified persons for the sole purpose of inspecting and disqualifying horses from showing or being presented for sale or at auction. AHPA insists that only the Secretary of Agriculture can enforce the law through punitive measures. .

However, the USDA states that AHPA has ignored a key phrase in the statute and cites the following language from it: “...or to otherwise inspect horses for the purpose of enforcing this Act.” USDA believes that the words “for the purpose of enforcing this Act” is in fact a Congressional mandate, expressed in plain language..

Regarding AHPA’s contention that the USDA has abdicated its enforcement authority, USDA insists that it has “expressly retained its authority.” The agency points out that it initiated numerous enforcement penalty proceedings between 1999 and 2000. It refers to an HIO’s role as that of “initial enforcement” and states that it does not eliminate the USDA’s ability to enforce as well..

USDA admits that while the operating plan is “an imperfect solution to the problem of eliminating a cruel and inhumane practice,” it is not “arbitrary and capricious” as the AHPA has argued. Quoting from American Horse Protection Association v. Lyng, USDA reports that the act itself is “a sort of compromise between industry proponents of soring and persons who regarded the practice as barbarous.” The department states: “Given the compromise struck by Congress in the statute, together with the limited funds Congress appropriates each year to the horse protection enforcement program, the agency cannot be faulted for attempting to increase the number of violations detected and punished under the Act. Plaintiff’s real issue is with Congress, not with the agency charged with enforcing a flawed statute.” The USDA admits that it cannot afford to send veterinary medical officers to roughly 90 percent of horse shows and that without DQPs many violations would go undetected..

Subsequent to the Feb. 28 filing by the USDA, the AHPA filed a motion requesting that it be allowed to present its arguments orally. The court will decide whether to allow oral arguments by both sides or whether to decide the case based on the briefs that have been filed.

More Stories

  • Obituary – Dianne Green

    Mrs. Sara Dianne Green, age 68, of Shelbyville, passed away Wednesday, November 25, 2020... Read More
  • KWHA postpones annual banquet and meetings

    On November 23, 2020, the Kentucky Walking Horse Association (KWHA) Board of Director’s met and voted to postpone the annual banquet, dinner, and general meeting that was originally scheduled for January 8-9, 2021 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington, Kentucky.  Read More
  • Obituary – Elizabeth Gassaway

    Funeral services for Elizabeth Marie Hestle Gassaway, age 48, of the Wheel Community, will be held 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, at Edgemont Baptist Church with Pastor Steve Murphree officiating and Laurie Toone speaking. Burial will follow at Jones Cemetery. Elizabeth passed from this life Thursday, November 26, 2020, at home surrounded by her loving family. Read More
  • Latest Issue 11 23 20

    Read More
  • Cyndi McConnell hospitalized

    The Report has recently learned that Cyndi McConnell has been in the hospital following a surgery to repair blockage in her heart. She has had two stints put in her main artery that was blocked 99%... Read More
  • Obituary – Michael Scott “Mike” May

    Michael Scott “Mike” May, age 79, of Shelbyville, formally of DeLand, Florida passed from this life Monday, November 16, 2020, at NHC of Tullahoma after an extended illness... Read More
  • Latest Issue 11 16 20

    Read More
  • Obituary – Melton Oran

    The Report has recently learned of the passing of Melton Oran. Mr. Oran was a long time member of the ETWHA and the husband of Latitha Oran.  Read More
  • WHOA announces nominations for Board of Directors

    The Nominating Committee of the Walking Horse Owners' Association has nominated the following people for the Board of Directors for a 3 year term... Read More
  • Obituary – Deborah Williams

    The family of Deborah Williams appreciates the expression of sympathy from the Tennessee Walking Horse family. Due to Covid-19, there will be no memorial service at this time. We will provide you with an obituary for publication when it becomes available. Read More