For the first time in 17-years, the government shutdown on Tuesday. As the political blame game continues, many non-essential government entities, including those depended on by horse owners, will be impacted.
A cornerstone of the U.S. horse industry is the movement of horses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains and operates import, export and quarantine facilities for horses traveling in and out of the country. The American Horse Council says border inspection is deemed essential and will have no lapse in service. Import, export and quarantine facilities are paid services and will operate as usual.
Equine-Reproduction.com says it has stallions on-site about to enter pre-export isolation for freezing of semen for export out of the country. The facility was scheduled for inspection Wednesday by USDA-Aphis, but now it won’t happen until after the government reopens. The hold-up could be detrimental for American stallion owners wanting to export semen and mare owners planning to breed to those horses.
The USDA website states “Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to become available again.”
Testing at the National Veterinary Service Lab in Iowa will be suspended, according to AHC. Tests pending during the shut down will be finished, but any incoming tests will be stored and processed at a later date. In case of a disease outbreak, high priority tests will be done on a case-by-case basis.
USDA is also responsible for the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which was introduced to end the rampant abuse and soring of Tennessee walking horses. AHC states this program will be impacted.
Employers may also feel the strain if hiring farm workers. The shutdown means the processing of applications for H-2A and H-2B programs could be delayed. Visas for foreign competitors wanting to compete at events in the U.S. may also be held up.
The length of the shutdown will determine the true impact for horse owners and the industry as a whole.