‘Game-Changer’: Policy Change Allows Resumption Of Equine Exports To China

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles praised the resumption of live equine exports to China at a signing ceremony in Beijing today. The agreement, signed by United States Ambassador to China Terry Branstad and Minister Zhi Shuping of the People’s Republic of China, clears the way for the importation of all breeds of U.S. horses, including high-quality Thoroughbred racing horses, to China, where a rapidly expanding racing industry has emerged.

“Today’s announcement is a game-changer for Kentucky’s horse industry,” said Commissioner Quarles, who attended the signing ceremony in China. “This policy change is the result of work on the part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and will greatly benefit our economy and workers. Today’s announcement is a victory for everyone in the Bluegrass State and all of Kentucky agriculture, from those who raise horses to the farmers who supply their feed.”

In 2015, the Chinese Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) placed a hold on the importation of live horses from the United States due to concerns about equine infectious anemia (EIA), an infectious and potentially fatal viral disease of members of the horse family.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (KTOB), the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), Keeneland Association, U.S. Livestock Genetics Export, and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles worked together to address concerns in the People’s Republic about EIA. This began with a visit to China in fall of 2016. Earlier this year, Commissioner Quarles hosted a Chinese delegation in Kentucky for a site visit.

As a result of these efforts, the USDA and AQSIQ have reached an agreement repealing this technical import barrier, clearing the way for the export of live horses to China. Commissioner Quarles attended the signing of the agreement alongside diplomatic and industry leaders. No state taxpayer dollars were used to pay for Quarles’ travel expenses.

“We were pleased to work with APHIS alongside KTA-KTOB to help demonstrate the proactive and effective way that our state and national agencies protect our equine population against EIA outbreaks,” said Craig Huffhines, executive vice president for the American Quarter Horse Association. “As the world’s largest equine breed association, we are excited to partner with our colleagues in the People’s Republic of China to support the health and vitality of the global equine industry.”

“As America’s leading exporter of live horses, Kentucky breeders are very pleased about China’s decision to permit a resumption of trade with the United States,” said Chauncey Morris, executive director of the KTOB. “We are very grateful to the People’s Republic of China for providing us the opportunity to demonstrate how we protect our horse population.”

“Keeneland applauds the cooperation of all parties involved in re-establishing this important business link with the People’s Republic of China,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “As the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, we at Keeneland are excited by the significant expansion opportunities it offers Kentucky’s entire horse industry, especially breeders and sellers.”

Kentucky is the leading exporter of live horses in the United States, responsible for $195 million, or 65 percent, of the total U.S. exports of live horses.

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