FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Person: Teresa Bippen
FOSH Representatives Attend United States Department of Agriculture
Teleconference Meeting Regarding Animal Care
June 26, 2010
The USDA meeting addressed many aspects of animal care regulation for which the USDA is responsible. The meeting was not solely focused upon the Horse Protection Act.
Representatives of Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) recently participated via teleconference in a Stakeholder meeting on Animal Care sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on May 20.
The primary presenters were Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Deputy Under Secretary John Ferrell. Ms. Merrigan opened the meeting by stating that it had been six years since a stakeholder meeting regarding animal welfare enforcement had been called by the USDA and that going forward, the USDA plans to hold more meetings, become more aggressive in its enforcement efforts and improve its consistency and effectiveness.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) will soon release its audit report and the USDA plans to work with the various stakeholders on OIG recommendations to ensure better enforcement. Congress is also concerned that enforcement is lacking and is considering amendments to the animal welfare laws.
The USDA acknowledged that improved documentation of violations and an updated database would assist with enforcement. Enforcement actions will be announced in June which will consist of case summaries, penalties and deterrents for repeat offenders. Appropriate resources will be needed for these initiatives and that is being addressed with Congress.
It was stated that it was the USDA’s intent to work collaboratively with stakeholders and the ultimate goal is the humane treatment of animals.
Deputy Under Secretary John Ferrell, Marketing and Regulatory Programs, spoke after Ms. Merrigan and said that enforcement is a high priority—this is the Age of Enforcement on animal welfare at the USDA. Options are being explored to increase the number of investigators and impose tougher fines.
After Ms. Merrigan and Mr. Ferrell spoke, the floor was opened for questions. Cris Van Horn, FOSH Executive Advisory Committee member, asked about the future plans for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). Dr. Gipson was present and responded that HPA enforcement has been stepped up during the past few years.
FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and in the fight against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. For more information about FOSH or to become a member, please visit www.fosh.info or call 1-800-651-7993.