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Celebration Asks APHIS To Rescind Ban on Any Weighted Shoe

Proposed clarification to Rule would limit all horses to Keg or Conventional Shoe

The United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (USDA-APHIS) recently extended the comment period on their proposed rule to run through October 26, 2016.  The extension of 30 days was granted after multiple organizations and members of Congress asked APHIS for the extension.

The proposed rule, initially published July 26, 2016, eliminated the use of pads, bands and action devices in the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and related breeds that perform with an accentuated gait that raise concerns about soring.  As part of granting the 30-day extension, APHIS published a clarification to the equipment ban stating, “The use of any weight on horses, except a keg or similar conventional horseshoe, is prohibited.”

The Celebration, through its counsel Kelley Drye & Warren sent a letter on September 22, 2016 to Administrator Kevin Shea, asking the USDA-APHIS to rescind the new provision.  The reason for the request from The Celebration was APHIS could not have considered this provision as part of its analysis required by Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.  In addition, the clarification changes dramatically the impact of the rule.  Thousands of additional horses would now be eliminated from the show ring and the impact on small business is substantially increased, none of which was shared with Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) prior to the public notice being issued.

As part of the clarification, APHIS invited comment regarding the new provision, however APHIS hasn’t given its basis for the ban on shoes over 16 ounces.  “It is unfair for APHIS to introduce such a significant change to the proposed rule at this juncture of the rulemaking proceeding given the significant impact that the proposed provision would have, and because APHIS has not even explained its basis for introducing this proposed provision, including, for example, whether and how it would help to eliminate soring,” stated the letter from Kelley Drye & Warren.

Due to the late notice and lack of basis for the provision, The Celebration has asked APHIS to rescind the proposed clarification.  If APHIS won’t rescind the clarification, The Celebration asked for another extension.  “At a minimum, given the significance of the proposed provision, it would only be fair for APHIS to extend the comment period by sixty days (i.e., another thirty days) from the time APHIS provides its basis for this proposed provision, states the effect that the proposed provision has on its analysis under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and its Regulatory Flexibility Act certification, and OIRA has reviewed the proposed provision.”

Click here to view the letter from Kelley Drye & Warren to Administrator Kevin Shea.

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