April 16, 2009

Walking Horse Report
P.O. Box 1007
Shelbyville, Tennessee  37162

Dear Editor,

As we struggle with the issues of the USDA and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, we are not alone.  The promulgation of rules and regulations of “government” go far beyond our specific interest of the Tennessee Walking Horse and affect our daily lives in many ways, both directly and indirectly.

In a recent issue of a trade journal, I read about Cargill and their compliance with many “animal welfare assurance programs”.  Among numerous compliance issues, the article listed several points I found interesting.  “For more than two years, Cargill has used video monitoring in its plants to help animal welfare management teach and monitor performance in animal handling.”  “Cargill plant employees that handle livestock receive about 82 hours of animal welfare training each per year”.  ‘Since oct.1, 2008, Cargill has purchased hogs only from farms that have been certified under the National Pork producers Council’s Quality Assurance plus program”.  “Cargill for the past two years has adopted group housing for gestating sows …”.  There is a certain reason for escalating prices in pork products.

Unfortunately, the imposition of ambiguous, convoluted regulations go far beyond animal rights issues and impose great expense and restraints on what we do. (I expect to see no patio grilling and catalytic converters on lawnmowers any day.)  As an employee in the water treatment industry, I spend much of my time complying with regulatory issues.  For example, the EPA requires discharge permits on water discharged from cooling towers.  In many instances, this water is of a quality better than many drinking waters.  However, a cumbersome, expensive NPDES permit is required for the discharge of this water.  As the law is written, if you wash your car and the run off goes into the street, you are required to have a NPDES permit.

Why are we inundated with these regulations, rules, laws, etc.?  Simply put, the animal rights activists, environmentalist and others who are smarter than we are.  They are highly organized, well funded and have a continuous campaign to promote their agenda.  I have never understood why our “association” does not publicize a running total of the money generated for charitable organizations with horse shows each year!  In addition to a very serious economic contribution to our society, the Walking Horse industry contributes many good things, but they are the best kept secrets.  In short, we have lost the public relations campaign and our possible demise will be the result of this shortcoming.

No doubt my letter will place me on the “right wing extremist terrorist” list, but it’s a small price to pay to speak out.  If we do not respond to these efforts to suppress opposition thought, we will certainly earn our fate.


Bruce Dempsey