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Opposition to USDA Rule Overwhelming in Lexington

American Farriers’ Association President Opposes Proposed Rule

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The United States Department of Agriculture held its second public hearing on a proposed rule that would eliminate Horse Industry Organizations and their inspections as well as ban pads, action devices and hoof bands.  The USDA held the first listening session in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Tuesday August 9, 2016. Today’s hearing was held in Lexington, Ky.

Approximately 200 people attended the public hearing in Lexington with close to 90% in attendance opposing the rule.  The Lexington results mirror the 90% of the approximately 350-400 in attendance in Murfreesboro that opposed the rule.  The industry, which stands to be devastated by the rule, has shown its opposition in large numbers over the past two days.

Opening the hearing in Lexington was a letter from Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY) that was read which outlined the disappointment in the USDA’s failure to follow Congress’ directive to work with the industry.  This directive was included in Chairman Rogers appropriations language for the past several years.  In addition, the letter expressed disappointment that the USDA is attempting to maneuver around Congress to issue this rule.

Representatives from Congressman Andy Barr’s (R-KY) office along with representatives from both Kentucky Republican Senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, were in attendance in opposition to the USDA’s proposed rule.  Rep. Rogers is Chairman of Appropriations and Senator McConnell is Senate Majority Leader.

Newly elected President of the American Farriers’ Association Jon Johnson was in attendance in Lexington and gave comments opposing the proposed rule.  The impact of the new rules would be harmful to farriers and the currently allowed shoeing regulations in the Horse Protection Act have been proven by the USDA and other studies to cause no harm to horses.

In addition to the political leaders from Kentucky, the industry was once again represented by trainers, owners, breeders, show managers and affected businesses that would be negatively impacted by the new rules.  The focus was again on the negative economic impact of the new rules as well as the existing science that proves pads, action devices and bands do not cause any harm or soring.  Show managers also spoke against the rule as it would make it virtually impossible for shows to continue with the demands placed on show management.

The USDA, nor those in favor of the rules, have been able to produce any science or evidence that disproves the Auburn Study or shows any harm caused by pads, action devices or bands.  USDA Administrator Kevin Shea even stated in September 2015 that the industry had every right to exist in its current form.  This proposed rule is a complete reversal of Shea’s statement before Congress.

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