How Will the Government Shutdown Affect Equine Interests?

How Will the Government Shutdown Affect Equine Interests?

Congress has failed to pass any of the annual appropriation bills that fund government agencies and projects for the fiscal year that runs today through Sept. 30, 2014.

Photo: Photos.com

As of midnight on Oct. 1 all employees deemed nonessential by the federal government were furloughed without pay. In fact, Congress has failed to pass any of the annual appropriation bills that fund government agencies and projects for the fiscal year that runs today through Sept. 30, 2014. What does this mean for your horse-industry activities?

Recreation
The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management have closed and secured park, refuge, and visitor facilities on public lands. National Forest recreation sites, which are manned by government employees, are also closed.

Equine Imports and Exports
The USDA maintains and operates equine import, export, and quarantine facilities. Currently, border inspection is considered essential and will not experience service interruption. These facilities operate on user fees, so will continue operations as usual.

Veterinary Testing and Disease Outbreaks
Although tests already pending will be completed, new test samples submitted to the National Veterinary Service Lab in Ames, Iowa, will be stored by USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Services staff for later processing. Should a disease outbreak occur, high-priority tests will be run at the National Veterinary Service Lab on a case-by-case basis.

Transport of Horses for Slaughter
The USDA enforces regulations for the slaughter horse transport program, so the shutdown will impact this program, as well.

Temporary Workers and Visas
Processing of applications for H-2A temporary agricultural workers and H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker programs have halted. This will prevent employers in the horse industry from filling the semi-skilled and entry-level positions that foreign workers often fill. Visas for foreign competitors at U.S. equine events could also be delayed.

According to the American Horse Council (AHC), as of Sept. 30, government agencies were still fine-tuning their shutdown plans and categorizing essential and non-essential operations.

“Especially concerning is that the shutdown could also slow response to any contagious disease outbreak,” Ben Pendergrass, AHC legislative director, said Tuesday.

“I’m already receiving messages about the impact,” Pendergrass added. One message was from a stable owner who offers trail rides through Mammoth Cave National Park, and who will have to curtail those rides until the shutdown is resolved, which will impact the stable’s revenue, he said.

About the Author

Diane E. Rice

Diane E. Rice earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin, then melded her education and her lifelong passion for horses in an editorial position at Appaloosa Journal. She currently works as a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and photographer and has served on American Horse Publications’ board of directors. Rice spends her spare time gardening, reading, serving in her church, and with her daughters, grandchildren, and pets.

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