Several Members of Congress spoke to attendees during the issues forum including Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressmen Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY), who are the co-chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus, as well as Congressman John Yarmouth (D-KY).
“The AHC is grateful to have had so many Members of Congress come give us their perspective on the fiscal challenges facing the country. There were several different viewpoints, but the message was clear that when it comes to spending it will not be ‘business as usual’ in Washington,” Said AHC President Jay Hickey. “Without a doubt we will be seeing less federal spending and that could impact the horse industry in many different ways.”
The remainder of the issues forum included presentations from several individuals from federal agencies, state health officials and other organizations. Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator and Chief Veterinary Officer for USDA’s Veterinary Services, and Dr. Guy Hohenhaus, President of the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials, discussed some of the issues USDA and state veterinarians face in responding to and mitigating equine disease outbreaks under current budgetary constraints.
“Contrasting the current fiscal environment with recent equine disease outbreaks, such as Equine Herpesvirus, further underscores the importance for USDA, state animal health officials and the industry to maintain a strong partnership and collaborate in our continued efforts to safeguard the health of our horses and our industry,” said Dudley Hoskins, AHC Director of Health and Regulator Affairs.
“Presentations by Robert Perrin from the Bureau of Land Management and Anne Merwin of the Wilderness Society drove home the point that recreational opportunities on public land could be in danger,” said AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass. “It will be important to fight to preserve adequate funding for public lands, but equestrians are also going to have to explore public/private partnerships with federal, state and local government to keep trails open to equestrians.”
Additionally, attendees received updates on the national equine health initiative, the activities of the Unwanted Horse Coalition, the status of the national animal identification system, the Americas Great Outdoors Initiative and a discussion about how the horse industry can improve its political activities with a focus on the 2012 elections.
“I believe we had a very informative National Issues Forum this year,” said Hickey. “We brought together Members of Congress, key federal agency officials, and leaders in the horse industry and everyone came away with a better understanding of the challenges we face in the coming years.”