USDA Withdraws Proposed Horse Protection Rule, plans to issue Stronger Regulations as a "Top Priority" to help Stop Horse Soring
Today the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the withdrawal of a 2016 proposed rule that would have amended the Horse Protection Act (HPA) regulations. This action is being taken so the Agency can evaluate more recent findings and research. These new considerations will be incorporated into a new proposed rule.
Passed by Congress in 1970, the Horse Protection Act (HPA) is a U.S. federal law, under which the practice of soring is a crime punishable by both civil and criminal penalties, including fines and jail time. "Soring" is defined as the application of any chemical, mechanical agent, or any method intentionally inflicted upon limbs of a horse that cause the horse to suffer physical pain or distress when moving. The abusive practice of soring horses is aimed at producing an exaggerated "big lick" gait for competitive horse shows.
The intent of the HPA is to prohibit the showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport of sored horses. However, loopholes in the law allow for horse soring to persist. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act is a federal bill currently being considered in both the U.S. House and Senate. If passed into law, it would expand soring regulations and enforcement, and increase penalties for violations. Last session, the PAST Act passed the U.S. House by an overwhelming margin of 333-96, but didn't clear the Senate.
In March 2021, over 100 members of Congress signed a letter urging USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, to publish the 2016 rule [CLICK HERE to read the letter]. Now, after five years of waiting for the rule to published, APHIS has decided to create a new rule. Hopefully the agency will officially approve the updated version without further delay.
APHIS Claims development of a new and improved HPA proposal is a top regulatory priority