- Posted by Emily
- On October 19, 2020
- 0 Comments
As we continue through the COVID-19 Pandemic, the majority of the meetings this month remained virtual. The Coalition of State Horse Councils kicked off the month with a meeting engaging 20 horse councils. The purpose of the meeting was to network with other people and groups regarding equine state events, issues and concerns. By working together our equine industry will remain vibrant and relevant in our state’s recreational industry, entertainment venues, sport community, legislative arenas and overall economy. We also discussed a new Coalition website. A survey was conducted to gage the support of an independent website and if state councils would be willing to help financially support the site. After reviewing the results of the survey, it was determined that State Councils would indeed be willing to support the site and work with the American Horse Council (AHC). Staff from the AHC provided an update on federal issues. A specific area of concern was a letter that the AHC was sending to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This letter seeks improvement in communication between the horse industry and the USDA. A copy of the full letter can be found at: https://www.horsecouncil.org/press-releases/ahc-letter-to-secretary-purdue/. Similar concerns were expressed by other Horse Councils and their respective State Departments of Agriculture.
The NCHC participated in the North Carolina Agricultural Agent Training Conference. As a sponsor of this event, we were able to share information about the horse industry in our state with over 92 participants. Data from our economic impact study was presented along with a synopsis of legislative initiatives that have been passed which impact our industry.
Several legislative meetings were conducted during August as we prepared for the General Assembly to return in September. We will be working on both recreational as well as agricultural issues as we move into 2021. This will necessitate broadening our legislative support. Regulatory issues were also highlighted in August as we worked with show promoters and facility managers on interpreting and implementing COVID-19 restrictions.
Two new social media consultants were approved by the Executive Committee in September. A new Social Media Consultant was hired to boost the NCHC Social Media presence and work to build membership and influence in public policy. A second consultant has been hired to assist with technical issues and provide media design to any new campaigns identified. Both specialists began work in September.
The month’s activities were rounded out by working out the final “kinks” on the website. We hope that these final changes will improve access to our resources and information.
During the month of September, we remained in Phase 2 of the Governor’s COVID-19 Plan. This brought no change to our horse shows. Equine Competitions experienced increased entries. Several breed sanctioned shows provided data showing that there does not appear to be a spread of COVID-19 at the competitions. Competitors and Management Staff have all been compliant with the Public Health measures in place.
The Wildlife Resource Commission held a final wrap-up of the Sunday Hunting Stakeholders Meeting. The current Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act of 2017 allowed Sunday Hunting with the following restrictions: no hunting between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm; no deer hunting with the use of dogs and no hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship. In considering opening up select game land to Sunday Hunting the following criteria was used:
- Focus on rural game lands that are not heavily used by non-hunters
- Proximity to other game lands and public lands where hunting is prohibited
- Consider the value to unique properties that are important to user groups
- Avoid game lands where past conflict has been a pattern
The WRC held a staff retreat and reviewed the content of the focus group responses and has now recommend Sunday Hunting on 57 of the 94 game lands. Other considerations included a possible 4 day per week hunting on 6 other game lands. This would include Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. They are also considering hunting with dogs and resource protection. The final recommendations will be prepared and will be presented for public comment in January of 2021.
Discussions began in September to organize a Political Action Committee (PAC). During the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has become increasingly evident that the Equine Industry must step up our political presence. In addition, as we move into 2021, we will need legislative support to increase our access to public land. Activity is on-going but we hope to have the PAC formed prior to the end of the year.