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Celebration Meets with Office of Management and Budget



The Celebration met with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) division of the Office of Management and Budget on July 7, 2016. Board member Jeffrey Howard and Chief Executive Officer Mike Inman represented The Celebration. Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) Chairman Terry Dotson, lobbyist Jeff Speaks and attorney Joseph Wilson were also in attendance. Wilson works with Kelly Drye & Warren, the law firm representing The Celebration and the show horse industry in the rulemaking process.

The meeting focused on the issues surrounding the proposed rulemaking before OMB submitted by APHIS to change aspects of the Horse Protection Act. Based on comments by the Humane Society of the United States and the outline of the proposed rule in the Unified Agenda, The Celebration and industry has assumed all or parts of the PAST Act will be included as part of the proposed rule.

The Celebration stands firmly against the PAST Act and the devastating impacts it would have on the The Celebration, the Tennessee Walking Horse, the community of Shelbyville, state of Tennessee and the thousands of jobs it would take from those that participate in the Tennessee Walking Show Horse industry.

The Celebration and its representatives focused on the impacts the new rule would have as well as alternative solutions to the stated intent of the rule. First, The Celebration alerted OMB that no representative of APHIS engaged The Celebration, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, PSHA, the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association or show management to discuss the proposed rule or the impacts it would have, despite executive orders that require such action to take place.

The Celebration confirmed with OMB that the USDA’s own study, AAEP, AVMA and a recent study completed continue to scientifically prove that the current pad and action device used in the performance division do not cause soring nor any other harm to the horse. If the rule suggests the elimination of those items, OMB was warned that it would fall outside the authority of the USDA and thus be illegal.

The discussion also focused on the failure of the USDA in its responsibilities under the HPA and instead of working with the industry to develop independent oversight and objective, science-based inspections they have decided to eliminate the show horse. This action is opposite of their responsibility under law.

Representatives of the industry, along with their counsel, urged representatives in the meeting from OMB and USDA to consider the industry proposed solution that would utilize an independent HIO and inspectors to conduct scientifically proven objective tests to ensure the welfare of horses competing. In addition, this industry led solution would not impact the budget of APHIS, would be funded completely by the industry and allow all divisions of the Tennessee Walking Horse to continue to compete.

After the meeting, Kelly Drye & Warren drafted a letter recapping the stance of the industry and the issues with the potential rule, pointing out the legal and scientific reasons the rule, if drafted similarly to the PAST Act, is harmful and damaging to a significant part of the agricultural economy in Tennessee, Kentucky and other areas with significant numbers of Tennessee Walking Horses.

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