American Horse Council International Movement Working Group Town Hall


American Horse Council International Movement Working Group Town Hall


The AHC newly formed International Movement Working Group recently hosted a Town Hall meeting for brokers, transporters, and stakeholders importing and exporting horses. The meeting had over 90 registrants from across the globe. The purpose of this town hall was to share ongoing efforts to improve the import/export experience for all stakeholders invested in the international movement of horses.


The AHC formed this working group to identify challenges and successes related to the international movement of horses. AHC is seeking input to better understand stakeholder concerns related to the safe, healthy, and efficient movement of horses.  During the town hall meeting the group announced how stakeholders can provide real-time ongoing feedback of their import/export experience.


The working group has created a feedback form that anyone can submit. The form is meant to gather specific examples, of both challenges and successes, related to importing and exporting horses. These examples should relate to one of several topics including but not limited to CEM protocols, permitting and health certificates, quarantine, regulatory rules and protocols, scheduling, sick horses, staffing, disease testing, and more.


The form can be found here: bit.ly/EquineMovement and AHC encourages anyone who is involved in the international movement of horses to submit their experiences. Your name and contact information will not be shared with third parties, but we may reach out to clarify any comments in your submission.


Anonymous submissions are welcome, but please submit as much detail as possible to allow us to understand your experience fully. An anonymous comment may be less effective if we are unable to follow up with you on your experience.


If you need assistance with this form, please reach out to Emily Stearns, AHC Health, Welfare, and Regulatory Affairs Liaison at estearns@horsecouncil.org.

Do you need to worry about Bird Flu?

 

Do you need to worry about Bird Flu?


Bird Flu, also known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), is a highly contagious and often deadly disease in poultry caused by HPAI A (H5) and A (H7) viruses. HPAI is transmitted to domestic poultry via wild birds and most recently the variant H5N1 has been diagnosed in dairy cattle, barn cats, foxes, and 1 person.


H5N1 has not currently been diagnosed in horses; however, it is possible that the H5N1 strain could mutate and infect horses. If H5N1 spreads to horses, it is possible there will be national testing requirements and impacts on interstate movement.


Horses are susceptible to influenza, particularly equine influenza, which is caused by two main strains of the virus (H7N7 and H3N8). The World Organisation for Animal Health considers H7N7 extinct, as it hasn’t been detected in over 20 years.


H3N8 is endemic to the United States and it’s important that horses in the US get vaccinated as part of their routine health care. Equine influenza has a short incubation time and symptoms in horses include fever, nasal discharge, dry cough, depression, weight loss, and weakness. Severely sick horses can develop pneumonia. Most horses recover within 2-3 weeks, but the disease is incredibly infectious among unvaccinated horses.


The first known outbreak of equine influenza in the US was in 1872, but the disease has been reported as far back as 330 CE in Grecian veterinary records.


The outbreak in 1872 became known as “The Great Epizootic of 1872” and was so severe that most horses and mules were incapacitated for weeks and people had to resort to pulling streetcars, wagons, and farm machinery. So severe was the outbreak that 70% of the horses in New York City were affected with a mortality rate as high as 10%.


The concern with influenza viruses is they sometimes mutate to infect other species. H3N8 spread to greyhounds cohoused at a racetrack with infected horses in 2004.


So how can we help prevent the spread of H5N1 to horses? Follow these suggestions:

  • Do your best to prevent wild birds, domestic poultry, or barn cats who may interact with wild birds, from accessing shared space with your horses or other livestock. This is inclusive of outdoor water and feed areas.
  • If you have cattle on your property with your horses, avoid sharing resources such as hay, feed tubs, or water tanks if possible, and wash your hands between handling different species.
  • Raw milk has been shown to carry the live H5N1 virus. If you have barn cats, do not allow them to ingest raw milk. Pasteurized milk is safe.
  • Get in the habit of routinely checking your livestock for illness, this includes taking your horse’s temperature regularly so you know what their normal is.


If you suspect any livestock on your property may be sick:

  • Separate the animal from all other animals on the property and call your veterinarian immediately.
  • Follow standard biosecurity protocols until you and your veterinarian can identify the source of the infection. Treat the animal as if they are infectious to both animals and people until you are able to identify the illness.


To learn more about HPAI N5H1 and keep current on the outbreak, follow the USDA Updates.

Farm Bill Update

 

Farm animals: A donkey and a horse on a pasture of a farm. The donkey is looking forward and the horse is feeding on grass.

Farm Bill Update

 

Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, is releasing details on the 2024 Farm Bill. The full text is expected to be published prior to the Committee’s hearing scheduled for Thursday, May 23. The Senate has released one overview document.

 

The House and Senate have significant differences in prioritizing programs and funding levels. Senate Committee on Agriculture Chair Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) remains steadfast in her opposition to any reduction in funding for climate change and nutrition programs. If the impasse between the House and Senate versions is not rectified, Senator Stabenow has indicated her willingness to extend the current 2018 Farm Bill and punt deliberations into the next Congress in 2025.

Betting on whether a Farm Bill will pass has become somewhat of a guessing game in Washingtona high-stakes guessing game. The Hill newspaper reported on a study showing that pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and “big agriculture” have spent more than $400 million lobbying Congress on a new farm bill.

Despite not being part of the $400 million lobbying club, AHC is pleased to announce some “wins” for the equine industry: The “three-legged” stool of animal health programs, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank is funded at levels meeting or exceeding our requests to the Committee. These programs are the first line of defense against animal disease outbreaks and emergencies.

 

  • $10 million per year for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network
  • $70 million per year for the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program
  • $153 million per year for the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary
    Countermeasures Bank

 

AHC is also encouraged by the Committee’s directive to the National Agricultural Statistics Service to establish a Commission to improve the efficiency of data collection and the quality of statistics reported. AHC will advocate for a slot on the Commission to press for a comprehensive equine census. A description of the Commission and its mandate is found in H.R. 6351.

 

The Farm Bill has many hurdles ahead. Please join AHC at its upcoming Annual Conference on June 9 to 12 in Washington, D.C., we will have updated information on the state of play, and we’ll be going to congressional offices to make our case for the equine industry!

Register for the Annual Conference now!

New H-2A Farm Worker Protection Rule

 

New H-2A Farm Worker Protection Rule

 


AHC members who use the H-2A program as a source of seasonal agricultural employees need to be aware of new regulations.

 


The H-2A program allows U.S. employers who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.

 


The Department of Labor (DOL) adopted changes to the program to “further strengthen protections for agricultural workers and enhance the Department’s enforcement capabilities, thereby permitting more effective enforcement against fraud and program violations.”

 


In fulfillment of that goal, the DOL’s final rule increases protections for workers who advocate for better working conditions (including forming or joining labor unions), clarifies the definition of justifiable termination for cause (“failure to meet productivity standards or failure to comply with employer policies or rules.”), and adds to the paperwork and disclosure recruitment process. The regulation also expands worker transportation safety by mandating seat belt use in certain vehicles that the employer provides.

 


The final rule is effective on June 28, 2024. However, H-2A applications filed before Aug. 28, 2024, will be processed according to applicable federal regulations as is in effect as of June 27, 2024. Applications submitted on or after Aug. 29, 2024, will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Farmworker Protection Rule.

 


For more information about the rule, visit the Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division.