Senators Will Seek Legislation to Provide Low-Interest Loans For Horse Farmers

Kentucky lawmakers will ask their colleagues to help horse farmers in the wake of a mysterious illness that has killed foals and caused fetuses to abort, according to an Associated Press report. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it cannot provide the aid under current laws, so Republican U.S. Sens. Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are planning to introduce legislation to help out.

"We are working as quickly as possible to find a legislative solution to help those horse farmers hardest hit by this mysterious disease," said John Mechem, spokesman for Bunning.

With about 5 percent of the 2001 foal crop dead and perhaps more than 20 percent of next year's foals aborted, the thoroughbred industry losses alone are estimated to top $225 million.

Greg Avioli, deputy commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the legislation "will focus on low-interest loans to the breeders and the farms that need them the most."

Avioli is optimistic the effort "has a real possibility of bearing fruit."

An Agriculture Department spokesman said the USDA has sent four veterinarians to Kentucky and has 28 employees working on the problem.

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