Jay Hickey, American Horse Council president.

Jay Hickey, American Horse Council president.


Foal-Loss Legislation Prepared by Industry

Equine industry officials continue to work on the state and federal levels to push for financial assistance for those impacted by the mare reproductive loss syndrome in Central Kentucky.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the American Horse Council have prepared legislation they hope is introduced by Kentucky Sens. Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell when Congress reconvenes June 4. The U.S. Department of Agriculture can't provide financial aid under current law.

The legislation was prepared by Greg Avioli, deputy commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and Jay Hickey, president of the AHC. In summary, it calls for low-interest loans for breeders and owners who suffered foal loss of at least 30% or who "suffered substantial economic injury," Avioli said. The bill is modeled after other emergency-relief documents.

Industry losses have been estimated at up to $225 million.

On Wednesday, Hickey and other representatives of the American Horse Council, along with Avioli and NTRA commissioner Tim Smith, were scheduled to meet with Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in Washington, D.C. The foal-loss situation will be on the agenda even though the meeting was scheduled before the situation developed.

"It may be discussed as to what might or might not be available (in terms of financial aid)," said David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.

On Tuesday, Switzer was scheduled to meet with members of Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton's staff to discuss the economic impact of mare reproductive loss syndrome. On June 14, there will be a meeting with members of the Kentucky General Assembly, who are expected to tour some of the affected farms.