AHC Supporting Proposed Import Rule Change for Entertainment Horses

The American Horse Council (AHC) has submitted comments supporting the United States Department of Agriculture's proposed rules to allow horses intended to serve in noncompetitive entertainment functions from countries affected by contagious equine metritis (CEM) to be temporarily imported into the United States under certain safeguards.

"We appreciate the USDA's effort to respond to the problems with the importation and allocation of permits for non-competitive entertainment horses, and to better accommodate this sector of the industry while protecting the safeguards that are in place" stated Kerry Thompson, AHC director of Health and Regulatory Affairs.

Contagious equine metritis is caused by Taylorella equigenitalis, a Gram-negative bacterium. Although it can affect fertility, the highly contagious venereal disease often causes no clinical signs. Contagious equine metritis is considered a foreign animal disease in the United States, but it has afflicted horses here via imported stallions and semen.

The AHC stated its recognition of the need for a new category within the import regulations to further accommodate the entertainment sector of the horse industry. Many problems have arisen in the past with the importation of non-competitive entertainment horses and their continual application for permits.

Although fully supportive of the proposed rules, the AHC raised one concern in the comments. As written, the proposed rule provides for no limit on the period of time that the imported horses can remain in the U.S. The AHC expressed a concern that the USDA might not be able to enforce the requirements specified for these horses over extended periods of time.

The full text of the AHC comments can be found on the Health and Regulations section of the American Horse Council Web site, www.horsecouncil.org.  

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