Animal Wellness Action's Lobbying for Increase in Horse Protection Act Funding Secures $4.1 Million in FY23 House Agriculture Appropriations Bill

Horse performing with high stepping gait caused by soring.
Horse performing with high stepping gait caused by soring. Randall Saxton

Newsdate: Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 10:35 am
Location: WASHINGTON, DC

This week Animal Wellness Action (AWA), the Washington-based non-profit political advocacy group that worked diligently to pass the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act through the U.S. House in 2019, applauded U.S. House Appropriations Committee leaders for their inclusion of the highest-ever funding levels for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 in their Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill. The measure includes $4,096,000 in HPA funding, nearly six times the amount appropriated from in 2018.

Horse splashing drinking water on a hot day.

The US Capitol Building where horse legislation is passed

In addition to helping end soring, the egislation would also renew the ban on horse slaughter in U.S.
© 2018 by Architect of the Capitol New window.

Until 2019, federal funding for HPA enforcement had never exceeded $705,000 for a single fiscal year. AWA, which was formed in 2018, has made HPA funding a top priority in the war to end ‘soring’ – the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs to induce an artificial high-step gait known as the ‘big lick’ that’s prized at Tennessee Walking Horse shows in the Southeastern U.S.

The larger equine community and animal protection world has long recognized that a lack of HPA funding for enforcement has contributed to the soring events that run rampant, especially in Tennessee and Kentucky. AWA also helped secure HPA funding in the amount of $1,000,000 for FY2020, $2,009,000 for FY2021, and $3,040,000 for FY2022 in collaboration with leaders in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and Members of the Tennessee and Kentucky Congressional Delegations, all of whom have conceded that soring must end.

“We applaud appropriators in Congress for responding to our pleas to end soring by providing record-breaking funding to wipe-out this painful scourge that’s marred the show horse world since the 1950’s,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, and a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association who was honored by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 2020 for his work to end soring. 

“While legislation that would also help stamp out soring continues to face tremendous opposition in the U.S. Senate, we remain steadfast in exploring new avenues and opportunities to work with leaders in the breed on provisions that we can all agree upon.”

Members of Congress who did the heaving lifting with AWA and Tennessee Walking Horse leaders to secure the new HPA funding include Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Ron Estes, R-Kansas, Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and John Rose, R-Tenn.

The de facto ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. first executed approximately 15 years ago has been achieved by defunding USDA inspection of horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil through language in the annual spending bill, and that provision was maintained in the House-released FY23 bill thanks to the work of Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee.

A lack of inspections means horse meat cannot be legally sold in interstate commerce, effectively making horse slaughter illegal. Sadly, thousands of American equines continue to be shipped to foreign slaughter plants, underscoring the need for a federal ban that will finally bring the predatory horse slaughter industry in the U.S. to a long-overdue end.

Click here to view the full FY23 Agriculture Appropriations bill released with HPA funding on page 15 and the horse slaughter defund language on page 110.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.


Press release by Marty Irby -  marty@animalwellnessaction.org

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