Call to action | TSLN.com

Call to action

Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

As this economy continues to be so “if-fy” everyone is scrambling to make ends meet. If you’re a horse trainer whose income is drying up you may want to investigate the opportunities offered by the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF) through their Trainers Incentive Program (TIP).

“This is the answer for many of our nation’s talented horsemen who are losing customers or have customers who can no longer pay to have their horses trained,” said MHF Executive Director Patti Colbert. “Through TIP, horsemen can receive up to four mustangs, gentle them and place them for adoption in a period of 90 days and receive $700 for each horse.”

That $700 is of course less than you usually make… but if your customers disappear then it’ll be more than your making. Furthermore, that money is only the tip of the iceberg. There are sizable purses to be won at all Mustang Makeover competitions, a portion of the adoption fee goes to the trainer, and the trainer gets introduced to the public in very popular venues. Mustang Makeover events are held across the nation, drawing huge crowds, with the horses commanding adoption fees frequently higher than the prices being paid at horse sales in the same area.

Beyond that, those who adopt are likely to hire the trainer to do further work with their horse, or even to instruct and work with them and the horse in transition. Chad Kelly from Monett, Missouri became involved with TIP at the 2007 Extreme Mustang Makeover in Texas and has already earned more than $50,000 in TIP incentive funds.

While doing that, he’s placed more than 40 mustangs for adoption throughout Missouri and the Midwest. As Colbert says, “TIP can help folks pursue new careers and support employment of those currently involved in farming and ranching, in addition to saving the US government millions of dollars in the cost of feeding mustangs in long and short term holding facilities.”

In order to become qualified, certain criteria must be met to satisfy Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulations. The BLM manages more than 30,000 wild horses roaming public lands. Mustangs involved in TIP come from those periodically gathered and removed from herd management areas (HMAs) to be placed for adoption across the country. To obtain a full description of the program and to apply, visit http://www.mustangheritagefoundation.org or call Program Coordinator Kali Sublett at (254) 947-5530.

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Since we’re talking about our financial situation, here’s a little good news. The American Horse Council is telling us the Economic Stimulus Act contains two important tax incentives that would allow a much bigger write-off for horses and other depreciable property purchased and placed in service during 2009. The first incentive continues the so-called $250,000 Section 179 expensing allowance for horses purchased and placed in service in 2009. This allowance also applies to farm equipment and most other property with a depreciable life of less than 20 years.

In addition, bonus depreciation has also been reinstated for 2009 in the new Stimulus Bill. This second incentive allows a horse owner to take first-year bonus depreciation equal to 50 percent of the cost of horses and most other depreciable property purchased and placed in service during 2009. Both these incentives help big money spenders more than those on a tight budget, but you need to know and understand them no matter what income bracket you’re in, and take advantage wherever possible.

The Stimulus Bill includes several other changes that may benefit horse owners, including allowing taxpayers a deduction for state and local sales and excise taxes paid on the purchase of new cars, light trucks, and recreational vehicles in 2009; a change in the net operating loss carryback period to five years for small businesses; and a reduction for 2009 in the required estimated tax payments for some small businesses. For details go to http://www.horsecouncil.org.

Speaking of legislation, Montana is leading the common sense delegation in this crazy land with progress regarding their House Bill 418, the Horse Processing Authorization bill. According to Representative Ed Butcher of the House Agriculture Committee in that state, the crucial bill is headed into ’round two’, since the bill passed the House 66-33 and is now in the Senate for final legislative approval.

Butcher says, “At this time the ‘animal rights’ coalition is organizing with a full-time lobbyist and is planning to mount an aggressive campaign in the Senate to defeat HB 418. During the past week, we have witnessed a large increase in the calls opposing HB 418 – mostly from Missoula, Bozeman, Billings, and other scattered large cities. It is critical for concerned horse owners to counter with their own campaign against the opposing force.”

He continues, “I would suggest that beginning Wednesday supporters of HB 418 will select 5 to 6 Senators to call each day at 406-444-4800 leaving a message urging support for HB 418 and ask the Senators to oppose any amendments. This bill must provide protection from harassment to attract investors to construct a processing plant in Montana. This legislation will be weakened if we do not rise up in support. This matter of great importance will be heard by the Senate on March 12th at 3 p.m. I strongly advocate attending this hearing so that the voices of Montana Horse Owners may be heard. I would suggest that your testimony be kept to 1 to 3 minutes and if your points have been made by your time to testify, give your name for the record and state that you ‘support the previous testimony.’ We need a stream of supporters going before the committee so your appearance can have tremendous impact on legislation… This bill will be greatly beneficial not only to our state income but also to all horse owners.”

Come on Montana voters – we’re all rootin’ for you. Meanwhile all of us need to oppose that “Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act” in the US Legislature. It would prohibit the transport, sale, delivery, or export of horses for slaughter for human consumption and criminalize the purchase, sale, delivery, or export of horsemeat intended for human consumption. The Montana plant would be of no consequence if this bill were to be enacted; it passed the Senate in September but never received a full House vote. It is believed the bill received so much scrutiny it might reach the full House rather quickly, so protest to your congressmen quickly.

If you’re not already exhausted from petitioning your legislators to stop the insanity in DC, you need to push the red button on your Congressional hotline once more as regards the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act (H.R. 1105) up for Senate vote. The Foot & Mouth Disease provisions therein are dangerous, providing for possibly contaminated Argentinan products to be imported; plus it’ll kick $14.5 million into promotion of the USDA’s National Animal Identification System (NAIS); which is not only unnecessary but would be a violation of many rights. You can reach your Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking for them by name.

That’s the end of our ol’ lariat rope for another week… it’s plumb frazzled.

© 2009 rhonda stearns

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