Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why we should take the opposition seriously

The AQHA recently sent out a press release (see below). It highlights why our side isn't making the strides we should considering we are in the right. They are better funded, better organized and better represented. Is it possible for our side (anti-slaughter) to achieve the same? YOU BET!

We just have to stay focused, raise more money and stop some of the in-fighting that sometimes goes on. Every time groups disagree we give them ammo against us. Every time we feel down they are there to take advantage. When we think that nobody needs funding to work we allow them to get ahead.

One of the ways we fail is that don't think before we say or pass along information. We share stories with no basis in fact. Does anyone remember the story that the whole state of Kentucky was being over run with abandoned horses? The story got picked up by a writer from the Associated Press, who also failed to check the story out. If he had he would have found that the horses in question had owners and they were not abandoned. That story still haunts us today, as the pro-slaughter side still uses it to show that horses are being abandoned because the slaughter plants shut down. Of course, they also fail to inform anyone that the supposed incident occurred when Cavel was still operating in nearby Illinois. We have got to quit forwarding emails about unsubstantiated abandoned horse cases. I got an email the other day from someone who talked about horses being found in the dozens in abandoned trailers. First, one can always find an owner if a trailer is abandoned by its VIN or license plate. Second, if one is that desperate they would SELL the trailer, not abandon it. I personally have been looking to buy a trailer and locally they are running $5000 and up for a 2 horse and I need a bigger trailer than that. But someone couldn't feed their horses so they loaded them up and then unhooked the trailer abandoning both trailer and horses on the side of the road?!

The biggest way we fall behind is thinking that funding isn't needed to work on the federal ban. The AQHA, AVMA and Cattlemen's Associations all are not as restricted on their funding as non-profit groups such as AHDF. They can spend as much as they like to fly folks out, pay for hotels and wine and dine legislators. Groups like the AHDF are limited to spending less than 10% of their donations on lobby activities.

Until now I have personally funded all of my trips, but I can no longer do that. Last year alone I flew to DC to lobby 4 times and the year before it was 8 times and all for about a week. I have the time, but no longer have the airline miles or money to go. (I have used all of our family's airline miles that we were saving for a family vacation and then some. I have flown enough that my whole family could have gone to Hawaii for a month.) I often think that people don't understand how important face to face meetings are and these types of trips are. Or perhaps they think that these things are free or that other things are more important. This isn't true and if we EVER want to see the end of horse slaughter in the United States we MUST change our thinking.

For example, earlier in the evening I forwarded an email to the AHDF group about a rescue effort to save 12 horses from slaughter. To save these horses, the group needs about $5000. That doesn't include theafter care these horses will need until they find a home. The wonderful woman running this rescue effort has saved over 600 horses since 2006. Imagine the money that took. Now imagine if matching funds were sent in 2006 to stop horse slaughter. We could have used it and made a difference, possibly ending slaughter before now. I am NOT saying don't fund rescues or rescue efforts. I have said this before. Instead, if you donate $5 to a rescue, donate $5 to the effort to END horse slaughter. If you have $100 to donate, donate $50 to a rescue and $50 to END the problem. This is just as important!

I know that some people think that AHDF is big and we have funding. We don't. Not one single staff member is paid, we don't even reimburse expenses. Today I spoke with someone who was shocked that we don't even pay a small stipend to help defray our staff's expenses. Even if we wanted to do that, we couldn't. I know that many groups not only pay their staff, but also pay all of their expenses. I can name several right now. However, they don't make the same impact that AHDF does and don't lobby as extensively or effectively. Think how much more effective we could be if we had the funding!

We have got to be just as smart as our opponents and right now we aren't acting that way.

AQHA Members visit Capitol Hill, Form Q-Contacts

America's Horse, March 24, 2009 – AQHA's Public Policy Committee's vision of a grassroots lobbying group made up of knowledgeable and passionate AQHA members became a reality February 10-12 in Washington , D.C.

The pilot program, which is known as Q-Contact, was created to develop a "key contact" system to enable AQHA to expand its efforts in national public policy work with a functional "grassroots or grass tops" type program. Key contact advocacy is based on select industry leaders developing a strong working relationship with lawmakers and their staff. The initial goal of the Q-Contact program was to identify, train and empower 15 to 16 members to develop key constituent relationships with selected members of Congress that might be in a position to advance policies and regulatory goals of AQHA. Q-Contacts are working to become a reliable resource and partner in regard to the area of expertise for lawmakers and their staffs.

The following nine Q-Contact members, along with AQHA staff Tom Persechino and Barbara Linke , traveled to Washington, D.C. in February for training and Hill visits: Dr. Jerry Black of California; Kelly Boles Chapman of Michigan; Wade Ellerbroek of Iowa; Norm Luba of Kentucky; Shawn Magee of Louisiana; Ed McNelis of Idaho; Scott Merritt of Nebraska; George Phillips of Mississippi; Georga Sutton of South Dakota.

Several of the Q-Contacts met with their Senators and Congressmen in person. Representatives and Senators for the following states were contacted: Alaska , California , Iowa , Idaho , Kentucky , Louisiana , Nebraska , Michigan , Mississippi and South Dakota . Q-Contacts also visited with the House Agriculture Committee staff.

At each Congressional and Senate office, the Q-Contacts left information on American Quarter Horse ownership and population graphs for each respective state, an updated position statement on pending federal legislation concerning horse processing, the National Conference of State Legislatures resolution and a short DVD featuring Dr. Tom Lenz's presentation on the unwanted horse.

Megan Formeck of Fairfax , Virginia , attended the Q-Contact training session as a junior lobbyist and also made Hill visits. Formeck is an AQHYA member and a student at George Mason University .

"These meetings were extremely successful in getting the initial contact established as well as communicating the Association'

s position on key pieces of legislation," said AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway. "Keeping abreast of the political activities in Washington will benefit all AQHA members."

In February, the initial development and programming of a Q-Contact network began. This on-line community will serve as a key component in AQHA's communications and follow-up with the Q-Contacts.

AQHA news and information is a service of AQHA publications. For more information on The American Quarter Horse Journal, The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal or America's Horse, visit

No comments: