The PAST Act will go through a markup in its subcommittee on Thursday June 23, 2022. This action will most likely move the PAST Act out of subcommittee and on to the full committee for additional consideration. This move is not unexpected as it follows the subcommittee hearing held a couple weeks ago where the PAST Act was discussed. The PAST Act will most likely be considered by the full committee (Energy and Commerce) in late July. Industry groups are already in contact with members of the committee and will have materials to those committee members prior to the full committee’s consideration. There remains little chance that the PAST Act in its current form would move through committee, receive a vote in the house, receive a vote in the Senate and become law prior to the end of this Congress in December of this year.

Also, earlier this week the USDA released its Spring Unified Agenda signaling the items that will be considered for rulemaking in the second half of the year. The Horse Protection Act rule was listed on the agenda with a notice date of October 2022 and a comment period that would end in December 2022. The full text of the rule has not been released and will most likely be done in October.

The abstract of the rule that was released with the unified agenda reads as follows:
Current Horse Protection Act (HPA) regulations require Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) to be licensed directly through Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs). DQPs conduct inspections of horses at HIO-affiliated shows, sales, auctions, and exhibitions to determine compliance with the HPA. We are proposing to amend the Horse Protection regulations by eliminating the role of HIOs and DQPs as inspectors at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions, and assigning inspection authority solely to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Medical Officers and other persons authorized by APHIS.  Other changes are also being contemplated.

This move by USDA has been expected for some time and is actually delayed from when most thought it would happen. The industry is fully prepared for the comment period as counsel has already been retained to submit the industry’s comments and potential opposition to aspects of the rule, especially those related to the elimination of HIOs, equipment and continued use of subjective inspection methodologies.  It is unclear at this stage what changes will be made from the 2016 rule.