Bulletin Board: 04/02

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Loans, Information Help Battle MRLS
he Agriculture Appropriations Act signed by President Bush last fall (H.R. 2330) will make available low-interest federal loans for horse owners and breeders affected by Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome in 2001.

The program will be available to eligible horsemen who have suffered a 30% loss in foals. It applies to all breeds in any state, although Kentucky Thoroughbred breeders were the most seriously affected. The USDA is developing forms and regulations, which should be available later this summer.

Two versions of the Farm Bill, currently in the Senate and due for final passage by early spring, also will provide a safety net for farmers and ranchers in difficult economic times, including provisions for emergency relief for horses, giving them the same status as other crops and livestock.

Last year’s devastation by MRLS is being felt this year in nominations of 2001 foals for the Breeders’ Cup, announced in January. The 15,020 foals were a 4.84% decrease from 2000, the first decline since 1992.

The University of Kentucky is maintaining a website on Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, which will include weekly updates on abortion statistics, throughout the 2002 foaling season. The site also includes an email hotlink and phone number for questions. The website is at www.uky.edu/Ag/VetScience/mrls.

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U.K. To Require Equine Passports
All horses, ponies and donkeys in England and Wales born since Jan. 1, 1998, will need a passport by Dec. 31, 2003. The ruling was made to bring the U.K. in line with similar legislation in other European countries and to establish a central database on horses for disease control.

In order to keep bureaucracy to a minimum, U.K.’s government is working with organizations in the horse industry that already maintain a register and that issue passports. The passports will include details of veterinary medicines administered, so that horses treated with certain medicines will not enter the human food chain.

The passport process is also intended to help the industry use breeding data to improve the overall quality of British horses.

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North Dakota Plans Horse Park With Racetrack
A state horse park for North Dakota is being planned on a 113-acre site within the city limits of Fargo, to be built in several stages.

The first stage is a ??-mile racetrack, grandstand, barns and parking. The track will be used for mixed-breed racing from 220 yards to 1.5 miles. The next phase will include an indoor arena and heated barns, followed by another phase for more barns, a museum and a restaurant. Programs will include training, boarding, breeding and therapeutic riding. North Dakota State University also has a parcel there for its equine studies program.

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Icelandics Exempt From Testing
Horses imported from Iceland in the United States are now exempt from testing for several diseases during the quarantine period, including piroplasmosis and equine infections anemia, since that country has never had any reported cases of these diseases. This action had been requested by the Government of Iceland to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Icelandic horses will still have to undergo the usual three-day quarantine period. In 1999, there were 30,398 horses imported into the U.S., but only 166 of those were Icelandics, with an average value of $4,367, according to the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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Blanket Donations
Owners who have serviceable blankets that they don’t need can go online and donate those blankets and other used equipment. The blanket recycling webpage has links to horse rescue/rehab programs, most of which will allow a tax deduction for the donation. The site is maintained by Hug Closure system, www.blanketnet.com or by calling 866/484-3487.