NTRA, Horse Council Continue Disaster Relief Meetings With Federal Officials

American Horse Council president Jay Hickey and National Thoroughbred Racing Association deputy commissioner Greg Avioli are meeting in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon with Caroly Cooksie, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster relief loan programs. The meeting is a follow-up to talks held last week in Washington involving Hickey and NTRA commissioner Tim Smith and a number of federal legislators, including Rep. Larry Combest, an Amarillo, Texas, Republican who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

The talks are focusing on the possibility of federal disaster relief for the Thoroughbred breeding industry, which is suffering major losses to its 2001 and 2002 foal crops because of mare reproductive loss syndrome. "We appreciate the efforts of Senators McConnell and Bunning (both Republicans from Kentucky) in expediting this important meeting, which we hope will allow us to move forward in obtaining appropriate relief for the Thoroughbred industry," said Avioli.

Additional meetings are scheduled within the next week, including one between Thoroughbred industry representatives and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.