Trump memorandum puts final horse soring rule in limbo


Regulatory freeze means rule has yet to be entered into Federal Register, the last step in making it official.

The final rule on soringannounced on Jan. 13 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) has been put on hold thanks to a memorandum by President Donald Trump.

Though the rule had been submitted for publication, the January 20 memorandum to "heads of executive departments and agencies" from Reince Priebus, Trump's assistant and chief of staff, has put a freeze on sending any regulation to the Federal Register, pending review by the president's appointees or designees. Publication in the Federal Register is the final step for a rule to go into effect.

The memorandum dictates that with exception for "emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, national security matters or otherwise," agencies send no regulation to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) until a presidential appointee reviews and approves the regulation.

For regulations that had been sent to the OFR but had not been published, the memorandum directs agencies to "immediately withdraw them from the OFR for review" in a manner consistent with OFR procedures.

At the time of the announcement of the final rule, USDA-APHIS stated that the "the changes regarding the prohibitions on the use of action devices and associated lubricants for exhibitors of Tennessee walking horses and racking horses, along with the training and licensing of inspectors, will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The rest of the rule will be effective January 1, 2018."

It was unclear at time of this posting when the rule will be reviewed and approved. However, Tanya Espinosa, USDA-APHIS public affairs specialist, tells dvm360 that the agency is taking steps to have the rule reviewed in accordance to the memorandum: "On Jan. 23, USDA issued interim operating guidelines outlining procedures to ensure the new policy team has an opportunity to review policy-related statements, legislation, budgets and regulations prior to issuance. This includes the HPA final rule."

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) have continued to support the final rule, sending a letter on Jan. 27 to Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Young urging the publication of the rule as written into the Federal Register. The associations also published an opinion piece on, a website and newspaper dedicated to Congressional issues calling for support of the rule.  

For dvm360's comprehensive coverage of soring, click here.

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