The United States Department of Agriculture’s new proposed rule to revise the Horse Protection Regulations was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review on September 2, 2022.  The Office of Management and Budget has 90 days to review the proposed rule prior to sending back to the department.

At that point the department will publish the proposed rule and open a comment period of somewhere between 60-90 days.  After that time period the agency will review with comments and make changes it feels necessary and send the proposed final rule back to OMB for another review, which could also take 90 days or longer.

This move by the USDA does not conclude the ongoing legal proceedings with regards to the old rule proposed during the Obama administration.  That decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals is still pending a potential appeal by the Department of Justice on the split opinion issued by the court.  However, the continued movement on the new proposed rule does signal an intent by USDA to push forward with the new rule and to formally withdraw the old rule.

Those sentiments were expressed directly by APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea earlier this year.  “We withdrew that rule because the data that supported it was outdated, and we wanted to use new data plus the National Academies report to come out with a more solid rule. There are people opposed to what we do in horse protection, and they’re not shy about suing us. So when we put a regulation in place, we want it to be as airtight as possible. To have just used the old rule, I think, would’ve made us vulnerable for a legal attack. We want to put out an up-to-date rule based on good data, and it’s our intention and Secretary Vilsack’s intention to do that. We hope to do it, certainly, by the end of this calendar year. And, of course, we’re always hoping Congress might act, too.”