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Where Do We Stand Now?

By Jeffrey Howard

There have been many interpretations of the USDA's action to withdraw the rule from publication in the Federal Register on January 24, 2017.  While this step was a very positive one for the industry and the show horse, it is not a permanent action.

The rule, which was withdrawn per the order issued by President Trump, will not move forward until the new administration has time to review the rule.  After review, the rule could move forward and be scheduled for publication in the Federal Register.  If this action is taken, we will be in the same spot we were in prior to the inauguration and facing a legal challenge to the implementation of the rule.  The industry is ready to take the necessary steps legally if this course of action is the decision of the USDA, thanks in part to the fundraising initiatives of the industry and the Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse (FAST).

It is possible after review that the rule could be permanently withdrawn or it could be altered and put back through the process for comment, review and publication.  At this point in time, the course of action by the new administration at the USDA is not certain.

However, no matter the course taken by the USDA, the industry must continue to fundraise and build up the legal fund as this issue looks to be far from settled.  The inspection process must become more objective and reliant on scientific methods in order to be a process trusted by all parties.  It is quite possible there will have to be challenges made to the current process in order to initiate change and a new process adopted.

A new administration is a positive change, however our issue doesn't go away with that change.  The time is now for the industry to set the course for a prosperous future for both the pleasure and performance horse with a system that ensures the welfare of the horse remains the top priority.

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