APHIS Requests Comments on a Proposal to Withdraw a 2017 Final Rule That Amends the Agency’s Horse Protection Act Regulations

On July 21, 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal, Plant, and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments on its decision to withdraw a 2017 final rule that amended the agency’s Horse Protection Act regulations. The regulation is entitled Horse Protection; Licensing of Designated Qualified Persons and Other Amendments.

  • On July 26, 2016, APHIS published a proposal in the Federal Register (81 FR 49112) to amend agency regulations by discontinuing third-party training and oversight of Designated Qualified Persons, who inspect regulated horses for evidence of soring. Instead, APHIS proposed all inspectors would have to be trained and licensed by APHIS. The rule also proposed several changes to the requirements that pertain to the management of horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions, as well as changes to the list of devices, equipment, substances, and practices that are prohibited to prevent the soring of horses. Finally, APHIS proposed to revise the inspection procedures that inspectors were required to perform.
  • The final rule was to be published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017. However, on January 20, 2017, the Chief of Staff of the President issued a memorandum instructing Federal agencies to immediately withdraw all regulations awaiting publication at the Office of the Federal Register. In response to the memorandum, the final rule was withdrawn from publication by APHIS on January 23, 2017.
  • The 2017 HPA final rule did not provide for inspection of horses by APHIS employees as an alternative to inspection by third-party inspectors who must be trained and licensed by APHIS, despite concerns from commenters that inspectors that meet APHIS’ criteria could be prohibitively expensive for small shows. It is APHIS’ intent to make such allowance in the new proposed rule.

Written comments are due by August 21, 2023.

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