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Operating Plan Timeline: From 1999 to Now




This timeline was first posted on July 31, 2000. Updates are made frequently as events occur. Updates to the timeline are indicated by two asterisks before the date. When new information is added, old asterisks will be deleted and new asterisks will precede the date.

1999

Nov. 1 - USDA releases first draft of Operating Plan 2000

Nov. 14 - National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) meets, identifies 50 "major contentions" regarding the 2000 plan and agrees to keep the 1999 plan.

Nov. 19 - Representatives from the USDA and the horse industry organizations (HIOs) meet in Riverdale, Md., to discuss the first draft of the 2000 plan. After the meeting, Dr. Ron DeHaven, deputy administrator for animal care at the USDA, said that the USDA would take the HIOs' comments into consideration. He also said that the plan would be out by Dec. 31, 1999.

Nov. 30 - Niels Holch, attorney representing the NHSC, Heart of America (HOA), Kentucky Walking Horse Association (KWHA), Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association (SSHBEA) and Western International, sends letter to USDA outlining the five groups' objections to the 2000 plan draft.

Dec. 28 - The USDA releases its 2000 operating plan to the HIOs for their review and signatures. DeHaven says that the plan includes "a significant number of changes" from the draft released Nov. 1. He asks that the HIOs respond by Jan. 7.

Dec. 30 - Holch sends letter to USDA stating why his clients ((NHSC, HOA, KWHA, SSHBEA, Western International and Missouri Fox Trotters) will not sign the 2000 plan. He cites the fact that the 2000 plan "is a significant departure from the regulatory structure in place this year..." He says that the HIOs object to changing the plan after only one season's use in the field.

2000

Jan. 10 - NHSC tells WHR that they will not sign the 2000 plan but will enforce the plan from 1999. NHSC's Craig Evans cites disagreement over (1) using palpation as the only indication of soreness and (2) the lack of a "meaningful conflict resolution" process as the main points of contention.

Jan. 12 - DeHaven sends letter to Holch expressing his disappointment regarding the six HIOs that have not signed the 2000 plan. He tells Holch that veterinary medical officers (VMOs) and investigatory personnel will attend Holch's clients' horse shows, sales and auctions during the 2000 season "in order to enforce the HPA [Horse Protection Act] as mandated by Congress." The letter states that the USDA will assume a primary enforcement role at any show that is not affiliated with an HIO that has signed the plan.

Jan. 14 - National Walking Horse Association and Humane Instruction Technocracy sign 2000 operating plan.

Jan. 18 - WHR publisher David Howard receives a letter from Tennessee Congressman Bart Gordon. Gordon states that in the previous week he sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman expressing his belief that the industry and government should "allow the [operating] plan from the 1999 show season the opportunity to work before changes are made." Gordon says that he will continue his dialogue with Glickman "in an effort to find a quick and equitable resolution."

Feb. 3 - Six senators and 12 congressmen send letters to Secretary Glickman asking that HIOs be allowed to continue to use the '99 operating plan. Calling the '99 plan a "comprehensive and workable regulatory agreement," the legislators told Glickman it should be given more time to work.

Feb. 7 - Representatives from the USDA, NHSC, Western International, HOA, Missouri Fox Trotters and SSHBEA meet to discuss clarifications of the language in the 2000 plan.

Feb. 20 - NHSC, HOA, Western International, SSHBEA and Missouri Fox Trotters send letter to USDA as a follow-up to Feb. 7 meeting. The letter outlines 12 specific "understandings and clarifications" to the 2000 plan.

Mar. 2 - There is a conference call among USDA and several HIOs for further discussion of "clarifications."

Mar. 21 - The Walking Horse Trainers Association votes unanimously to support the efforts of Craig Evans, Niels Holch and the NHSC in the ongoing negotiations with the USDA.

Mar. 30 - DeHaven sends a letter to all HIOs stating that each may sign no operating plan, the 2000 plan or what he refers to as 2000-B, which he says is identical to the operating plan for 1999. He asks that the HIOs respond by May 1.

April 5 - On behalf of the NHSC, Craig Evans sends a letter to DeHaven that Evans offers as an execution of the 2000-B plan. He states that the NHSC understands that the 2000-B plan will be identical to the '99 plan and that the "understandings setting forth various interpretations of that plan will continue intact."

April 7 - DeHaven responds to Evans' April 5 letter and rejects the NHSC offer. He says that he is "unclear as to what the NHSC's 'understandings' might be of OP 2000-B."

April 7 - Evans responds to DeHaven's April 7 letter. He says that the NHSC understands that 2000-B will be identical to the '99 plan and will therefore be "implemented and interpreted in the same fashion as it was in 1999." He again offers the letter as execution of 2000-B. DeHaven responds by faxing Evans a signature page. Evans checks the line for the 2000-B plan and writes in language that reads, "As written, interpreted and implemented in 1999."

April 13 - DeHaven writes to Rhonda Martocci, chair of the NHSC, and rejects Evans' signature page because of the handwritten language.

April 28 - USDA sends a copy of 2000-B to all HIOs. Language of the plan itself is identical to the '99 plan, but attached are 39 end notes. Several HIOs object on the basis that the end notes make the plan more similar to the 2000 plan than to the '99 plan. DeHaven requests a response from each HIO by July 1, 2000. (KWHA and HOA had signed 2000-B before the end notes were included. Dr. Robert Willems, horse protection coordinator for the USDA, said in a conversation with WHR on May 8 that the USDA considers the two HIOs to have signed 2000-B including the end notes.)

April 29 - Prior to receipt of the April 28 packet from the USDA, Evans writes to DeHaven stating that had the NHSC not written in language on the signature page, "it would have executed a signature page, without an attached document, and bound itself to a new and yet to be revealed interpretation and plan of implementation." He reiterates the desire of the NHSC to sign the 2000-B plan if it will be interpreted and implemented in the manner of the '99 plan.

April 30 - Horse Protection Commission Administrative Director Donna Benefield writes to DeHaven stating that though the HPC has signed the 2000 plan, the HIO will use whatever plan it deems most suitable on a case by case basis for the remainder of the year.

May 18 - As of this date, each HIO has signed the following plan: None - NHSC and Western International; 2000-B - HOA and KWHA; 2000 - Missouri Fox Trotters, SSHBEA, Horse Protection Commission, National Walking Horse Association, Horse Instruction Technocracy.

June 6 - Tennessee Representative Bart Gordon writes to USDA Under Secretary Michael Dunn stating that "...2000-B, with these 'notes' seems to be strikingly similar to Operating Plan 2000." The letter includes 16 point-by-point concerns regarding the end notes.

June 20 - Holch sends letter to USDA outlining seven points of contention with the end notes.

June 21 - At the request of the NHSC, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell calls a meeting among USDA Undersecretary Michael Dunn, Tennessee Congressman Bart Gordon, DeHaven and other representatives from Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and representatives from the HIOs. Craig Evans points out four issues that, if resolved, would allow the NHSC to sign the 2000-B plan. Undersecretary Dunn said that the USDA would move quickly to resolve the conflict.

June 30 - DeHaven sends letter to all HIOs stating that Congressman Gordon asked the USDA to study Holch's June 20 letter "with a view to modifying the end notes." DeHaven asks for comments by July 15 regarding the seven points of contention raised in Holch's letter. He also extends the deadline for signing or withdrawing from one of the two plans to August 1, 2000, and invites all HIOs to meet in Riverdale, Md., on July 18 to discuss "these and related issues."

July 18 - Meeting is held in Riverdale among USDA, HIOs and Josh Helton from Tennessee Congressman Van Hilleary's office. Regarding resolution of the areas of conflict with the end notes, DeHaven says that the department will "come up with a proposal in the next few days."

July 21 - DeHaven sends letter to all HIOs addressing several of the points of conflict discussed at the July 18 meeting. The letter contains language in two end notes regarding conflict resolution that is different from language in the original end notes of the 2000-B plan. DeHaven asks for a response from each HIO by July 25, 2000.

July 25 - Holch sends response to DeHaven in which he says that the HIOs he represents (NHSC, HOA and Western International) do not object to the clarifications regarding the conflict resolution process. He says that his clients "remain willing to sign Operating Plan 2000B, with the APHIS interpretations of the Plan from last year." He also asks that the plan be used for more than one year.

July 25 - Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell sends letter to Secretary Dunn. McConnell states that in his opinion the attempt by DeHaven to resolve the issue is unsatisfactory. He suggests that the '99 plan with the '99 interpretations, rather then the new interpretations, be implemented for the remainder of the year. He ends his letter with, "This issue has taken up too much time and energy and should be resolved by the end of this week."

July 26 - Tennessee Representatives Bart Gordon and Van Hilleary each write to DeHaven. Each expresses his dismay over the new interpretations of the end notes and suggests using the '99 interpretations. Short of that, each suggests changes to four end notes in particular: those having to do with (1) the conflict resolution process (#36 and #39); (2) subsequent violations (#31); (3) extension of the operating plan until 12/31/01.

July 27 - In a conversation with WHR, DeHaven says that he has a first draft of the revised plan that is in the approval process at the USDA. As soon as it is approved, he will send it to the HIOs.

July 28 - Dunn responds to Gordon in a letter indicating that the USDA will change endnotes 31, 36 and 39 so that they are the same as the interpretations of the '99 plan. However, he does not agree to extend the plan through 2001. He says that APHIS will work closely with the HIOs to develop a multi-year plan beginning with the 2001 show season.

July 28 - Dunn sends letter to all HIOs outlining the most recent modifications to the 2000-B plan. They are: (1) three joint training sessions for VMOs and DQPs prior to the 2001 season; (2) a single inspection procedures manual for VMOs and DQPs; (3) use of the '99 operating plan interpretations for the conflict resolution process and for punishment for subsequent violations; (4) a commitment to work closely with the HIOs to develop a multi-year plan beginning with the 2001 show season. He states that the deadline for signing or switching plans remains Aug. 1, 2000.

July 31 - The NHSC board of directors votes unanimously to sign the latest rendition of the 2000-B operating plan.

October 4 - The NHSC sends a draft five-year operating plan to the USDA. Craig Evans, author of the draft, describes it as largely the same as the 1999 operating plan as it was written, interpreted and implemented in '99, with minor revisions.

October 17 - Dr. Ron DeHaven tells WHR that the USDA has scheduled a meeting for Nov. 28 among the USDA and all HIOs to discuss an operating plan for the next two to five years. He says that the USDA has also produced a draft multi-year plan that is in the approval process at the USDA. He plans to send both the USDA and NHSC plans to all HIOs prior to the Nov. 28 meeting.

Nov. 28 - Representatives from the USDA, Kentucky Walking Horse Association, National Walking Horse Association, Western International, Humane Instruction Technocracy, Horse Protection Commission, National Horse Show Commission and Heart of America meet in Riverdale, Md., to discuss a multi-year operating plan to begin in 2001. DeHaven says that the HIOs have "divergent and polarized positions in some cases" but still declares, "I remain hopeful that early next year we will have an operating plan that all HIOs will agree to sign." He says the USDA will have a final draft plan to every HIO no later than January 1, 2001. The plan will include the number of years it will be in effect, which DeHaven says will be between two and five years.

**Dec. 27 - Via Federal Express, USDA sends proposed Operating Plan 2001-2003 to all HIOs. He tells WHR, “I think it goes as far as we can go to meet the industry’s needs without compromising the intent of the act...I think it’s the best product we’ve put out yet...” Evans says, “By all appearances it is an improvement over the first plan tendered to the HIOs prior to the Nov. 28 meeting. A number of the issues that we raised are touched upon in changes.” Evans and Holch continue to study the changes and plan to respond to the USDA for the NHSC, HOA and Western International.

2001

Jan. 8 - The American Horse Protection Association (AHPA) files suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the USDA from implementing the 2001-2003 operating plan. The basis of the suit is the AHPA’s belief that the Horse Protection Act (HPA) does not permit the USDA to delegate its authority for enforcement of the act to HIOs or to any “private parties.”

Jan. 10 - District Court Judge Henry Kennedy hears motion for temporary restraining order filed by AHPA to stop USDA from implementing plan until suit is decided. Judge Kennedy denies the request.

Jan. 10 - Dr. Ron DeHaven, deputy administrator for animal health at the USDA and one of the defendants named in the AHPA suit, says that the suit will have no immediate effect on the operating plan. He says, “The operating plan sent out on December 27 is valid in every way and if someone were to send in a signed agreement on the plan it would be accepted.”

Jan. 24 - Show Horse Support Fund board of directors votes unanimously to intervene in support of the USDA in the lawsuit brought by the AHPA. The fund cites the detrimental impact that a decision in favor of the AHPA would have on the walking horse industry as their reason for intervening.

Feb. 5 - Show Horse Support Fund files Motion for Leave to Intervene in the suit.

Feb. 6 - Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association board of directors votes unanimously to sign the 2001-2003 operating plan. SSHBEA president Mack Motes said that the board believes this plan is the best to date.

Feb. 6 - Missouri Fox Trotters sign 2001-2003 operating plan.

Feb. 7 - On behalf of the USDA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) files a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment in AHPA v. Glickman, Reed & DeHaven (named defendants at the USDA). The two main arguments to dismiss are that 1) the AHPA does not have standing to file the suit and 2) because Congress specifically provided for HPA enforcement by show managers, the question before the court is not whether the USDA can delegate enforcement but rather whether USDA’s determination of how to enforce the HPA is open to judicial review. DOJ argues that it is not open to review.

**Feb. 9 - The AHPA filed a memorandum in opposition to the SHSF motion for leave to intervene.
In its opposition brief the APHA states that the SHSF does not satisfy the four requirements necessary for an intervention. The requirements are:
1) the application must be timely;
2) the applicant must demonstrate a legally protected interest in the action;
3) the action must threaten to impair that interest; and
4) no party in the action can adequately represent the applicant's interest.

Among reasons for opposing the intervention APHA states that SHSF failed to show how the suit will disrupt the horse show industry, but rather merely assumes that the harm will occur.

**Feb. 16 - U.S. District Court judge Henry H. Kennedy referred the SHSF motion to intervene to a U. S. magistrate judge, which is a lower court, for his or her determination.

**Feb. 21 - The AHPA filed its Plaintiff memorandum in opposition to Defendants' Dispositive Motion and in Suppor Of Cross Motion of Summary Judgement with the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The motion is the AHPA's latest filing in its suit against the USDA to stop implementation of the 2001-2003 Operating Plan.

The final argument in the AHPA brief is that the USDA failed to correct know deficiencies in prior operating plans in the 2001-2003 version of the plan and that this failure is "arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion".

**Feb. 28 - The USDA filed its reply to the AHPA latest memorandum, which opposed the USDA's motion to dismiss. AHPA filed suit against the USDA on January 8 in an attempt to stop the USDA from implementing the 2001-2003 Operating Plan.

**March 19 - Fifteen U.S. Representatives from Congressional Districts with Walking and Racking Horse Shows sent a letter today to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman about the USDA's latest draft Operating Plan for Horse Protection enforcement. The letter was similar to correspondence sent earlier this week by nine U.S. Senators for the same purpose.

**April 5 - Craig Evans, chief negotiator for the National Horse Show Commission, signed the 2001-2003 Operating Plan with the USDA. Three HIOs signed the plan as well. They include: Lynn Birdwell, President of the Heart of America Walking Horse Association; Kenny Smith, President of the Kentucky Walking Horse Association; and Dave Swingley, President of Western Interational, also signed the plan on Thursday.

A letter of clarification addressed several issues in question to the satisfaction of the NHSC and the other HIOs.

Walking Horse Report
7/31/00 - original post
8/14/00 - updated
10/25/00 - updated
12/13/00 - updated
2/21/01 - updated
4/17/01 - updated

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