Jann Parker shares experience of speaking at Summit of Horse
Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) members attending the Summit of the Horse event held Jan. 3-6 in Las Vegas, NV found the event very worthwhile. The summit was a gathering of people who make their living with horses, and care about the ecological balance on healthy lands.
Bill and Jann Parker, managers for the Billings Livestock Horse Sale, not only attended the event but served on the Horseman’s Forum, Necessary Steps to Restore Lost Value and Normal Markets. The forum had a wide-range of speakers, from the Horseman’s Council of Illinois and the Master of Foxhounds, to the Intertribal Agriculture Agency and a veterinarian from Iowa.
“I talked about our numbers and how they have been negatively affected since horse processing has been stopped in this country,” said Jann Parker. “Basically, since the processing plants closed, our sale gross was about half. Our gross sale revenue in 2006 was $979,000 for 1,021 horses; in 2010 for it was $424,000 for 780 horses. Who is being hurt is the person who lives in Cody or Townsend or Roundup who hopes to get about $1,000 when they bring in a few loose horses. That’s not happening now. They don’t receive that money to spend in the community or put toward another horse purchase.”
Parker said one of the subjects she found of particular interest was hearing speakers on the Unintended Consequences on state, tribal and private lands program. “Five northwestern tribes have done a remarkable job organizing the ‘Intertribal Agriculture Council and Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition.’ They have all had problems with wild and feral horses. One tribe even had as many as 15,000 feral horses on their land. They are being proactive to deal with all of these unwanted horses.”
BLM Director Bob Abbey spoke on the Wild Horse and Burro Program. “He seemed to understand our frustration with the issue, but he has other groups he has to answer to. He knows there is a lot of work to be done with the huge population of wild and feral horses on federal lands,” Parker noted.
Parker said the highlight was listening to Dr. Temple Grandin, the now-famous livestock handling equipment designer who travels around the world speaking on autism and livestock handling.
Other topics included setting a high standard for humane horse processing, efforts to provide humane and economically viable options, the equine market report, protecting grazing and other rights, and a variety of other issues.
“It was a productive meeting with many different facets. It brought everyone together, from ranchers and ropers to horse breeders and tribal members, so we had a broad spectrum to discuss what we can do for our industry and our horses,” concluded Parker. “Horses are our passion, and I felt we owed it to our customers to attend this important event.”
Diana Alkire, MFBF equine program coordinator said, “This conference was an amazing gathering of knowledgeable people from a broad base that supplied attendees with a huge amount of solid data affecting the equine industry. The information collected will be an invaluable resource to help anyone understand the issues facing the industry and to realize steps being taken or need to be taken to revitalize the industry and better the welfare of horses. The industry has taken many steps to reduce the number of unwanted horses, but conference attendees agreed there is still a missing piece. MFBF supports domestic ownership, control and location of horse processing facilities, and that is the management tool missing at this point in time. Efforts are underway to establish a processing plant here in Montana.”
Attending the event was a way for horse people to unite to drive forward an agenda produced for and by horse people, and to make sure the U.S. Congress and U.S. citizens understand what is in the best interest of the horses and the best interest of people whose livelihood comes from horses instead of responding to the agenda of animal rights activists.
Many livestock producers are utilizing stockpiled pasture, hay regrowth and warm- or cool-season annuals to extend the grazing season this fall.