The American Horse Council has taken a position on the following issues:
Position Statement on Equine Welfare
The American Horse Council is committed to the humane husbandry, health, safety, and stewardship of equines in all activities and care.
We are further committed to the health and welfare of equines through scientific research, collaboration, education, and advocacy.
We are transparent, ensuring the public, the media, federal, state, and local officials understand and support the equine industry.
Position Statement on Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability
AHC Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Vision Statement
The American Horse Council is a bipartisan advocacy organization based in Washington DC, whose mission is to protect and strengthen the US equine industry.
Impacts associated with climate change are felt by industry participants and the horses we love across the country. These effects may include increasingly unpredictable weather events resulting in feed shortages, emergency evacuation and long-term displacement, expanding disease vector range, and even loss of life as a result of a natural disaster.
Climate change further endangers the health and capacity of lands we enjoy with horses, including the potential to drastically affect the recreational experience because of extreme temperatures, wildfires and associated smoke, severe storms, flooding, unmanageable snowpack, etc.
Exploring and utilizing environmentally sustainable practices is one approach to supporting land health and potentially mitigating localized impacts of climate change faced by the horse community. The AHC urges all industry stakeholders and equine enthusiasts to consider environmentally sustainable practices within their operations.
The AHC supports science based industry solutions that:
- Advance practices for equine specific manure management.
- Prevent discharge of harmful materials which contaminate the environment.
- Reduce harmful emissions from operations.
- Reduce waste, including single use plastics and other non-recyclable materials.
In addition, the AHC supports industry stakeholders in:
- Staying informed and compliant with local and federal environmental regulations.
- Building positive relations with neighbors, communities, and surrounding equine operations.
- Combating misinformation and promoting strategies supported by research.
AHC will continue to work with regulatory agencies to understand how the equine industry can be an advocate for policies and practices that are both forward thinking in environmental stewardship while being attainable by stakeholders.
Position Statement on Safe Sport
Safe Sport Code of Practice
To behave ethically necessitates an awareness of power differentials among all persons involved. This statement is intended to inform ethical judgments as persons consider asymmetric power relations among themselves and others they work with in professional roles. We recognize that this statement’s strength and requisite influence depend on its circulation, discussion, reflection, and use by the equine industry. It is the industry’s expectation that all equine organizations recognize “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017” and US Center for Safe Sport and adopt programs to support these initiatives.
The American Horse Council and its members are:
- Committed to contributing to an environment, which makes participation a positive and rewarding experience.
- Committed to creating and maintaining a community where all persons who participate in equine related programs and activities can work, learn and compete in an atmosphere free of all forms of emotional, physical and sexual harassment and misconduct.
- Committed to protecting the rights, safety, dignity, and well-being of the persons involved in all aspects of our industry, thus condemning all forms of harassment regardless of whether it is based on age, ethnicity, race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, religion or marital status.
- Committed to providing just treatment in cases of disputes and that there are proper and accessible mechanisms that are available in a timely manner to resolve disputed issues through due process.
Position Statement on Hemp Byproducts in Horse Feed
It is our position that sufficient scientific research to support the safety and utility of hemp in animal feed must be completed prior to any Federal or state approval. We understand the importance of supporting the hemp industry, and yet we also believe it is simply too soon to know whether hemp is safe and effective for horses as marketed. Our goal is for more research to ensure the safety and well-being of the public, our animals and our industry. Scientific research is needed.
Interest in the use of hemp in commercial animal feed has accelerated since the passage of the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (“Farm Bill”). While the Farm Bill expanded the legal production of hemp in the United States, the use of hemp in animal feed remains under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulatory programs for commercial animal feed. However, many state leaders and lawmakers are being asked to circumvent Federal and state oversight by considering legislation that will allow the use of hemp in animal feed in their respective states before the completion of the critical scientific research to affirm the safety of hemp — and before the necessary review by the FDA. Safety mechanisms and procedures are critical. Every day, Americans purchase food for their horses with the reasonable expectation that it is safe, and that the nutritional benefits claimed on the label are supported. While consumers have this expectation, most are unaware of the scientific research and regulatory reviews that are in place to affirm the safety of animal feed ingredients.
Currently, no hemp ingredients have been approved through the established animal feed ingredient review pathways. It would be imprudent to bypass these established procedures needed to protect both human and animal health and unilaterally legislate approval of animal feed ingredients at the state level. Concerns should be addressed. We are concerned that state leaders and the general public may not be fully aware that any new ingredient intended for animal feed must go through a scientific and legal review process to ensure safety and utility. Therefore, we wish to highlight three specific concerns regarding the inclusion of hemp in animal feed prior to the necessary research and regulatory review.
First, we have concerns about the health and safety of our horses. Although research is underway, it is limited and not conclusive. Some parts of the hemp plant have the potential to serve as sources of nutrition in many animal diets. However, it is not yet clear whether animals fed hemp-based diets will perform similarly to animals fed traditional diets that farmers and ranchers depend on today. Even hemp that is compliant with existing regulations for production contains ∆9-THC (<0.3%) and other cannabinoids. There is not a conclusive understanding of the long-term impacts of these compounds on the health of animals and results of existing research raise safety concerns. To achieve approval for use in animal feed, scientific evidence supporting long-term safety and utility is needed before commercial use.
Additionally, there are concerns about legal implications for horse owners and feed manufacturers. Even if a state legalizes hemp for use in animal feed, the use of the ingredient is not yet approved at the Federal level. Animal feed containing hemp that crosses state lines is subject to Federal regulation and could be considered adulterated under the law. The pursuit of review through established processes will effectively address all state and Federal regulatory requirements, granting access to local, national, and global markets. Without Federal review, the access for producers and manufacturers to interstate and global markets can be negatively impacted.
Recommended actions are doable and achievable. Instead of initiating statutory or administrative approval of hemp in animal feed at the state level, we recommend that state leaders and proponents of hemp in feed work through the defined regulatory pathways used for every animal feed ingredient. We urge state leaders to support research through universities or private labs so that the safety and utility of hemp can be fully understood before it is allowed for commercial purposes.