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Mr. ROSE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for allowing me time to speak on this bill today.
Mr. Speaker, I include for the Record a letter from the Tennessee Farm Bureau and Kentucky Farm Bureau Federations opposing H.R. 5441. November 14, 2022. Honorable Members of Congress, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Members of Congress: Please accept this letter as a statement of opposition to H.R. 5441, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by the Kentucky Farm Bureau and Tennessee Farm Bureau.
The PAST Act is misleading in its strategies and purpose and sets a dangerous precedent for animal agriculture. Please take the time to review it closely and understand this initiative and the agenda of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). While the PAST Act expressly targets Walking Horses, this push by the HSUS brings to question which segment of animal-based agriculture will be targeted next.
Supporters of the PAST Act argue the bill will ``eliminate soring'' within the Walking Horse Industry. However, soring is essentially nonexistent today. The bill professes to end soring by banning hoof pads and action devices which are used in Walking Horse performance shows, and implies such items cause soring. Hoof pads and action devices do not cause soring. Hoof pads are used to provide protection from ground force, to accentuate movement, and balance motion. These pads are used in many breeds other than the Walking Horse including the American Paint Horse, American Quarter Horse, American Saddlebred, and Morgan breeds. An action device is a band/chain weighing six (6) ounces or less. We are not aware of a study that indicates action devices or pads produce pain or cause tissue damage.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is the most inspected horse in the world. The industry and its shows maintain a compliance rate with the Horse Protection Act that averages 99 percent. This rate is significant considering the inspection process today is almost 100 percent subjective.
The PAST Act eliminates the organizations established by Congress in the original Horse Protection Act called Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs). These independent organizations provide inspectors for shows and are trained and certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Without HIOs, the PAST Act requires an increase in the USDA's workforce as well as additional employees for the U.S. Department of Justice. The Congressional Budget Office numbers reflect this cost.
We urge you to not accept the mistreatment claims from years past as true today. Visit a Walking Horse farm and see the horses. Visit with a horse owner, trainer, farrier and their veterinarians. Contact your state Farm Bureau, the Tennessee Farm Bureau or the Kentucky Farm Bureau if you want assistance arranging a visit or tour.
We urge you to oppose H.R. 5441.
Thank you for your consideration of this information. Sincerely, Eric Mayberry,
President, Tennessee Farm Bureau. Mark Haney,
President, Kentucky Farm Bureau.
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Mr. ROSE. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in opposition to H.R. 5441, the PAST Act. As an eighth-generation farmer and Tennessean, the grand tradition of Tennessee Walking Horses is among my earliest and fondest memories. We take great pride in the fact that the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration draws neighbors and tourists alike each year to Shelbyville, Tennessee, for our world-class showcase.
However, over the years, this grand tradition has, on occasion, been marred by a few bad actors looking to gain a competitive edge at the unfair expense of the hundreds of other Walking Horse exhibitors who do things right, and at the grossly unacceptable expense of the horses themselves that suffer from the cruel and unconscionable technique known in the industry as soring.
Those who sore our Tennessee Walking Horses compromise the integrity of the competition, put a stain on what has long been a wonderful family-oriented tradition, and by far most importantly subject our prized Tennessee Walking Horses to harm and suffering. I can assure you that we in Tennessee stand strongly against this vile technique.
My strong disgust to soring is actually why I rise today in opposition to the PAST Act. This bill is not the best solution to end this cruel practice. While I appreciate the sincere motives of those supporting this bill, I call on my colleagues to consider another better solution.
I am a proud original cosponsor of H.R. 6341, the Protecting Horses from Soring Act of 2021, authored by my friend and colleague from Tennessee, Congressman Scott DesJarlais. This bill works to end soring in another way that is fair to those acting properly and humanely and provides timely consequences for those who are not.
Inspections must be objective, but the PAST Act does not correct the subjective process currently used. My colleague's bill, H.R. 6341, creates a framework for consistent, scientific, and objective inspections. The bill also prevents conflicts of interest and suspends horses from shows if they are found to be sore.
Industry wide, the current compliance rate is between 96 and 99 percent, which is an increase from the 92 to 95 percent compliance rate that the industry had when we debated this bill last Congress. This is a 4 percent increase in less than 3 years. These compliance rates are based on USDA standards.
Overall, the Walking Horse industry has a USDA compliance rate higher than even the food industry achieves. With that record, the rate of catching bad actors at this point is, of course, extremely low. Those low rates mean we must be vigilant if we are going to find and stop the remaining bad actors. Vigilance will require a new system.
The PAST Act does not create a scientific, objective process for inspections, and until we have that, the remaining bad actors will continue to go under the radar, while those acting with integrity could be treated unfairly. The PAST Act is the wrong approach and will actually be counterproductive.
It is because of these concerns that I will oppose the PAST Act today and call upon my colleagues to also oppose it and instead stand with me in truly stopping soring by supporting H.R. 6341, the Protecting Horses from Soring Act of 2021.
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Mr. ROSE. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
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