In a recent interview with R. Scott Nolen posted on the American Veterinary Medical Association web site, APHIS administrator Kevin Shea was asked a series of questions regarding the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) accomplishments and future goals and priorities of APHIS.

One question asked centered around the Horse Protection Act regulation that would impact the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The previous regulation introduced under the Secretary Vilsack and Shea led APHIS would have been devastating to the show horse and would have virtually eliminated the Tennessee Walking Horse industry as it is known today.

Shea was asked the following question by Nolen. The USDA recently withdrew a long-standing proposed rule that would amend the Horse Protection Act regulations. Are there any updates in proposing new rules that incorporate the findings from the latest National Academies report on horse soring?

Shea responded, “We withdrew that rule because the data that supported it was outdated, and we wanted to use new data plus the National Academies report to come out with a more solid rule. There are people opposed to what we do in horse protection, and they’re not shy about suing us. So when we put a regulation in place, we want it to be as airtight as possible. To have just used the old rule, I think, would’ve made us vulnerable for a legal attack. We want to put out an up-to-date rule based on good data, and it’s our intention and Secretary Vilsack’s intention to do that. We hope to do it, certainly, by the end of this calendar year. And, of course, we’re always hoping Congress might act, too.”