Newsdate: Friday February 24, 2023 - 10:00 am
Location: Washingaton, DC
The United States (US) horse industry involves activities in all regions of the country and the world. Horses are considered livestock and are unique in the livestock sector because of their broad diversity.
The purpose of the National Equine Health Plan is to protect the health and welfare of the U.S. equine population and protect the economic continuity of business in the equine industry.
© 2016 by Margo Harrison New window.
The equine industry involves business, working animals, sport, recreation, entertainment, gaming, and environmental support, all built on the agri-business of breeding and raising equine. In addition to economic benefits, it also produces other intangible benefits to people and the US, including recreation, exercise, working animals, stress reduction, and entertainment.
The horse industry is unique because horses are transported with more frequency and over greater distances than other livestock. This increases the risk of spread of a contagious equine disease, which can have a devastating effect on the equine industry.
Every year there are tens of thousands of horse races, shows, competitions, and recreational activities involving horses in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of horses are routinely transported intrastate, interstate and internationally to racetracks, horse shows and other competitions, from farm-to-farm for breeding and training, to sales, to veterinary clinics, to national and state parks for trail riding and locally to ride with a friend.
During these movements horses commonly comingle with other horses of unknown health status. Domestic and foreign horses are exported and imported, permanently and temporarily, to and from countries around the world. Restrictions on movement, either nationally or internationally, can have a major economic impact.
The purpose of the National Equine Health Plan (NEHP) is to protect the health and welfare of the U.S. equine population, facilitate the continued interstate and international movement of equines and their products, ensure the availability of regulatory services, and protect the economic continuity of business in the equine industry. Ultimately, these goals support the larger mission of enhancing the health and economic viability of the US equine industry.
The overall goals of the NEHP are as follows:
- Protect the health and welfare of horses in the US and North America;
- Facilitate the continued interstate and international movement of equine and associated products with science-based requirements and standards;
- Protect the business continuity and economic viability of the equine industry;
- Establish the role of the industry, federal and state authorities, and tribal governments in equine disease prevention and control and in natural disasters; ensure the availability of current diagnostic testing, inspection, and certification services; create and maintain a communication system which provides timely and rapid dispersal of accurate information about disease outbreaks;
- Provide guidelines for control, identification, and containment of equine diseases;
- Support and make available educational programs for horse owners and industry representatives on disease identification and prevention.
The NEHP functions as a roadmap for coordinating owners and industry organizations with veterinarians and state and federal animal health officials to prevent, control, recognize and respond to diseases and environmental disasters. Organizational preparedness, effective rapid communication, and owner education make up the foundation for preventing diseases and disease spread.
All stakeholders need to be aware of the roles and responsibilities of all segments of the horse industry when there is a risk of infectious disease spread or natural disaster, which can affect the health and welfare of horses as well as the economy of the equine industry.
Currently, federal and state animal health officials have specific guidelines and regulations which define the role of these agencies for equine regulatory disease prevention and mitigation. By integrating the roles of the regulatory agencies with industry stakeholders and equine health and welfare, both equine health care and the equine industry are improved; this helps decrease the impact of infectious diseases on the horse economy.
Continual updating of the NEHP is required in order to respond to environmental conditions and emerging diseases both in the United States and internationally. This document will be reviewed and updated annually to keep it current with changes in regulations or diseases.
Learn more about the many facets of help and information the National Equine Health Plan offers horse owners.
Press release by NEHP