Equine Industry Officials Meet With Ag Secretary

Equine industry officials met with United States Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to discuss, among other issues, mare reproductive loss syndrome and its impact on breeders and owners.

Proposed legislation that sets parameters for financial assistance was discussed, and the bill could be introduced as early as the week of June 4, when Congress reconvenes.

"(Veneman) was genuinely concerned about the plight of the Kentucky horse industry because of mare reproductive loss syndrome," said Greg Avioli, deputy commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. "We explained the size and power of the horse industry, but also how fragile it can be because of the threat of diseases."

veneman served as secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture from 1995 to 1999.

Avioli attended the Wednesday meeting, as did representatives of the American Horse Council. Avioli and AHC president Jay Hickey prepared the legislation that was presented to Kentucky Sens. Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell.

West Nile Virus and quarantines were among the other issues discussed during the meeting, Avioli said.