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Chairman Rogers Disappointed In APHIS



Agency Continues to Ignore Directives In Appropriations Bill

By Jeffrey Howard

Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, recently wrote a letter to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Administrator Kevin Shea expressing his disappointment in APHIS’ lack of constructive communication with the industry.  The letter pointed out that the last five appropriations bill enacted by Congress contained directives for APHIS to meaningfully engage with the industry.

As Rogers’ letter points out, APHIS has not abided by the directives in good faith and in fact has been accused of using intimidation policies and actions that have created a “completely adversarial regulator-regulated environment”.  Chairman Rogers’ letter requested that APHIS produce documented evidence of all physical threats in the last five years against APHIS personnel, provide the number of APHIS personnel that attended each Tennessee Walking Horse event in 2015 and thus far in 2016, including armed or unarmed security and provide the total amount APHIS obligated during fiscal year 2015 on security for APHIS personnel attending Tennessee Walking Horse events.

In addition, Chairman Rogers asked Shea to provide the total amount APHIS obligated in fiscal year 2015 and thus far in 2016 for all contractors and non-government entities or personnel providing services for APHIS that are a part of Tennessee Walking Horse events.

The letter also speaks to the current proposed rule by APHIS that would enact the PAST Act or portions of it through rulemaking.  Rogers points out that the proposed rule was developed without any interaction or engagement with the industry, despite “clear direction from Congress to the contrary.”  In conclusion, Rogers asked Shea to certify to him that APHIS has not consulted with or engaged with any non-governmental entity in any aspect of developing, drafting or commenting on the proposed rule prior to its publication in the Federal Register.

During the Ethics Investigation into Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, documents released confirmed that the staff of Whitfield, along with the HSUS wrote the PAST Act.  The documents released included emails from Sara Amundson with the HSUS identifying Rachel Cezar, Horse Protection Coordinator with USDA-APHIS, as the HSUS “insider contact” at the USDA.

Rogers asked Shea to reply to him with the information by June 15, 2016.

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