MURFREESBORO, TN – A historic meeting of the “Lickers and the Flatters” took place Tuesday at the Embassy Suites Hotel before a standing room only crowd of persons to publicly comment “For” or “Against” the proposed USDA Federal to remove the “pads and chains’ from Tennessee Walking Horses” and eliminate “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty.
Standing Room Only
Here is some media coverage from the event:
Shelbyville Times-Gazette Newspaper Article – Aug. 10, 2016
USDA gets an earful at heated public hearing
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
By JASON REYNOLDS ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
MURFREESBORO — A hearing on the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry brought many predictions of economic doom, with numerous remarks bringing either applause or cat calls from the standing-room-only audience.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service held the first of five public hearings Tuesday at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Murfreesboro.
The agency is seeking to bypass Congress, where the PAST Act failed to reach a vote last year. The USDA is working with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) division of the Office of Management and Budget to amend the Horse Protection Act to accomplish much, if not everything, that the PAST Act sought — to ban chains and pads.
Industry proponents say it would bankrupt horse shows because of cumbersome requirements.
The USDA will accept comments until Sept. 26. More information is at www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/news.
Some of the speakers
Julie Lambert, Walking For The Angels Christmas Village and Horse Show in Shelbyville: Last year her organization raised $30,000 for such charities as the Boys & Girls Club. Their work includes such projects as Stuff the Bus and a coat drive in January. Losing their horse show would be devastating, she said.
Mike Inman, Celebration CEO: The industry has repeatedly approached the USDA to end 40 years of subjective tests. The Celebration has shared the results of independent, objective tests with the USDA for the last two years, cases where DQPs passed the horses and the USDA said they failed; biopsies sent to a good lab and peer-reviewed showed all were false positives, he said.
The USDA has not reached out to key stakeholder groups among the industry for feedback regarding pending rule changes.
Bill Williams: His two-time World Grand Champion horse was turned down at one show. A veterinarian that he took the horse to determined there was no scar, but the horse has been disqualified from showing any more.
Williams said he wrote a letter to the government that “got me in trouble.”
“I am a proud American,” the letter said. His letter accused the Humane Society of the United States of “tricking people.” The letter discussed the 10 years he served in the U.S. Air Force, including three years in Germany, where he joined a horse riding club. His German friends talked about that nation’s World War II history, and Williams told the audience that his walking horse experiences remind him of that situation.
“We must seek change and speak out for the future of the U.S.,” he said. “It’s going to take all of us to care about it and be proud Americans once again.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., during a private event in Shelbyville Tuesday: “I just hope they’ll be thoughtful and take a lot of broad-based input before they move ahead.”
Clant M. Seay, Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty, in a press release: “We call on all Tennesseans, and citizens from surrounding states and throughout America to boycott the 2016 Tennessee Walking Horse National (Celebration). … Our purpose is to economically destroy this event until the ‘Big Lick’ is no longer part of the Celebration.”
Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty Press Release