WASHINGTON --The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to prohibit the use of tax dollars to inspect U.S. horse slaughter facilities, reinstating a ban on domestic horse slaughter for the 2014 fiscal year.
The massive omnibus bill containing the defund language is expected to pass the U.S. Senate and be signed into law by the president later this week.
“The message from Capitol Hill is loud and clear on this issue: Our horses deserve better and this abhorrent industry will not be tolerated. Using taxpayer dollars to fund the inhumane horse slaughter industry is reckless and wasteful,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “We thank the members of the House for halting efforts to resume horse slaughter on U.S. soil and urge the Senate to quickly pass this bill.”
The defund provision was approved by both the House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Committees as amendments offered by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Congress regularly included a similar spending prohibition each year from 2005 to 2010, but failed to include the language in the 2012 budget, opening the door for a return of horse slaughter in the U.S., despite broad opposition to the practice. Several applications to open horse slaughter facilities have recently been filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa.
“I am incredibly proud that the omnibus appropriations bill includes a provision banning USDA inspections at horse slaughter plants, effectively prohibiting horse slaughter in the U.S.,” said Rep. Moran.
“These incredible companion animals don’t deserve to be callously slaughtered for human consumption. We fought hard for the past three years to reinstate this ban to prevent slaughter facilities from reopening on American soil. This achievement would not have been possible without the support of numerous federal, state and local officials, animal protection organizations, and dedicated citizens across the country.”
In a national poll commissioned by the ASPCA, it was revealed that 80 percent of American voters are opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption. Horse slaughter is inherently cruel and often erroneously compared to humane euthanasia. The methods used to slaughter horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses are difficult to stun and often remain conscious during their butchering and dismemberment. Whether slaughter occurs in the U.S. or abroad, these equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest, and in dangerously overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a grisly foreign industry that produces unsafe food for consumers.
While the FY 2014 spending bill protects American communities from the devastating environmental and economic impact of horse slaughter facilities, it does not prohibit the transport of U.S. horses for slaughter across the border to Canada and Mexico. To address this issue, Sens. Landrieu and Graham, and Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541/H.R. 1094)—bipartisan legislation that would end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat.
For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.
Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young (R-FL-13), the longest serving Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, passed away on October 18, 2013. His death was due to complications related to a chronic injury.
A member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, Young was a great legislative ally for animals, including horses. In June 2013 he and Rep. Jim Moran introduced an amendment to the FY14 Ag Appropriations bill to defund Horse Slaughter inspections..
In 2014 he also Co-Sponsored the SAFE Act (H.R. 1094) to illegalize horse slaughter in the U.S. and the PAST Act (H.R. 1518) to protect horses from the cruelty of soring.
Young was the only Republican to sign & endorse Rep. Raul Grijalva’s letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, calling for reforms of the Wild Horse Program.
In May 2013, Young was honored for his animal welfare leadership from the Humane Society of the United States. Upon accepting the award Young said, “I am honored to receive this award and will continue to advocate for the protection of animals as I have throughout my career".
There will be a public funeral for Rep. Young on October 24th in Largo, Florida.
Navajo Nation President, Ben Shelly
Among many issues President Ben Shelly lobbied for on his trip to Washington D.C. this week, was asking congressional leaders not to support a provision in the 2014 Agricultural Appropriations Bill that would reinstate a ban on horse slaughtering. The prospects aren't good, but meanwhile, the owner of a proposed horse slaughterhouse says he'd be willing to locate on the Navajo Nation - whose sovereign status may exempt it from the ban. In 2011, Congress removed a ban on horse slaughtering that had been in place since 2006. Even though the Obama Administration is against horse slaughtering, the U.S Department of Agriculture issued permits to Valley Meat Inc., of Roswell, N.M. and Responsible Transportation in Iowa in June to begin horse slaughter operations.
On Aug. 2, Shelly wrote to U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and other congressional leaders about the Navajo Nation's growing problems with feral horses, including his support for horse slaughtering from a land manager perspective. From his experience from driving across the reservation, especially driving to and from his home in Thoreau, N.M. to the tribal capital in Window Rock, the president said he would tell congressional leaders what he sees first-hand.
"They are starving and dying of thirst," he said about the estimated 75,000 feral horses on the reservation in an Aug. 16 interview with the Navajo Times. "I feel sorry for them," he added. "They're skinny, they're mustangs and they're small." In the letter to Grisham and also in his interview with the Navajo Times, Shelly said the range of the land - about 27,000 square miles - is suitable for only about 30,000 horses, and not 75,000. Shelly said the overpopulation of feral horses has resulted in the imbalance of the Navajo landscape, with the rangeland being depleted, water sources damaged through feces and urine contamination and even fatal car-horse collisions on the highways. He also said that the thousands of free roaming feral horses are competing with other livestock and wild game for resources to survive, which he claims has changed the migratory processes for wild game.
He cited the Navajo Department of Agriculture's statistics about how much of an impact these horses have on the landscape, saying a single feral horse consumes 5 gallons of water per day, or 1,825 gallons of water per year. These feral horses also consume 18 pounds of forage per day, or 6,570 pounds per year. "Removing 159 from the Navajo Nation would save 290,175 gallons of water per year and 1.1 million pounds of forage," the president said. On his trip, Shelly said he would also meet with officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and challenge them about helping tribes with managing their lands, considering
the agency has a history of Indian policy like the 1930s Navajo Livestock Reduction.
"We now have an overstock of horses," he said. "Why are they not here? The BIA should be in charge of this. What happened to that federal policy? That's what needs to be said in Washington, D.C." Though he favors the idea of slaughtering horses to help restore the land back in balance with nature, the president also said he's "open" to other ideas, such as adoptions, before the horses go to slaughter. "I'm open," he said, before adding that if the feral horses couldn't be sold or adopted, slaughter is "the only thing you can do."
Shelly will need to do some major convincing. According to a June 13 press release issued by the House Appropriations Committee, the appropriations bill passed the committee's floor with several amendments. One of those amendments,
sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Virginia), prohibits government funding for inspections of horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. - which effectively shuts down the industry. The amendment has bipartisan support. The appropriations bill, which totals about $19.5 billion in discretionary funding, now proceeds to the full House floor for consideration. It is $1.5 billion below the fiscal 2013 bill enacted into law and approximately equal to the current funding level caused by automatic sequestration spending cuts, according to the appropriations committee.
"Horse meat also poses significant food safety issues that make it dangerous for human consumption," she said. "I urge Congress to pass this Agriculture Appropriations bill that will prevent horses, a majestic fixture of the American West, from being methodically and inhumanely put to death."
Like Grisham, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King opposes horse slaughtering. He is an intervener in the U.S. Humane Society's case against the U.S Department of Agriculture for its alleged failure to conduct the proper environmental review before placing inspectors in horse slaughter plants, including at Valley Meat Inc.
"I think horses that have been wild or horses that are undernourished are not horses amenable for human consumption," King said, adding that in the U.S. horses are not perceived as food animals like pigs, chickens or cattle. King said the issue in the case is about the way in which the USDA issued the permit, without environmental review, to have federal inspectors inside Valley Meat Inc.'s operations. "This is something that hasn't been done in a number of years," he said. "It is a major federal action. That is what triggers an necessity for the environmental impact."
The U.S. Humane Society was contacted for an interview, but according to Stephanie Twinning, public relations manager for the organization, lawyers encouraged her not comment on the matter because it's in litigation. The Humane Society has maintained that Armijo's temporary restraining order, which prevents Valley Meat Inc. and other horse processing plants from operating for 30 days, is a step toward ending the inhumane treatment of horses at slaughterhouses.
Armijo has at least until Sept. 3 to decide whether to extend the order to a preliminary injunction, which could put Valley Meat Inc., out of business for at least six months to a year. Valley Meat Inc. owner Rick De Los Santos, however, remains optimistic about how Armijo will rule, because the Humane Society, King and other horse advocate plaintiffs have the burden of proof.
"The Humane Society has burden of proof to prove this to the judge they're correct in what they're saying," De Los Santos said. De Los Santos, whose plant was a cattle slaughterhouse for 22 years, said his company is exempt from the environmental clearance.
In late July, an arsonist set fire to the plant. He is waiting for an October hearing to renew a discharge permit for his operation, which was requested by the New Mexico Environment Department after more than 450 comments were filed against his operation becoming a horse slaughterhouse.
De Los Santos contends that most of the comments are from people from out of the U.S. and state of New Mexico, adding that there were no comments from residents of Roswell, known as a farming community. He also noted that the plaintiffs posted a $495,000 bond, ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott, because Valley Meat Inc., and Responsible Transportation (which has since dropped plans to slaughter horses) would suffer damages and losses from being inoperable.
The Humane Society objects to the bond and challenged it in hearings on Wednesday. The outcome of that hearing was
unavailable as of press time. De Los Santos added that if he could get the Navajo Nation's support to set up a slaughterhouse on the reservation, he would jump at the opportunity. "It would be something that would benefit the Navajo Nation," he said, adding that China and Mexico are the largest consumers of horsemeat. "I'd be willing to talk to President Shelly."
As for the state legislature, representatives Sandra Jeff and Sharon Clahchischilliage, who are both enrolled members of the Navajo Nation, share Shelly's concerns about the feral horse issue on the reservation and have come out in favor of slaughtering.
Source: Navajo Times by Alastair Lee Bitsóí
July 2, 2013 | Press Release
Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of an application for federal inspections at a horse slaughter facility in New Mexico.
“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the USDA to approve a permit for federal inspections at a horse slaughter facility in New Mexico.”
“It’s troubling, particularly given that over the last two weeks, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees amended their fiscal year (FY) 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bills to eliminate all funding for the inspection of horse slaughter facilities, consistent with USDA’s budget request. As Congress completes consideration of this legislation in the coming months, I plan to redouble my efforts to defund horse slaughter inspections and shut down any facilities that may open.”
In FY 2006, Congress passed a prohibition on the use of appropriations for the inspection of horses intended to be slaughtered for human consumption. Without meat safety inspections, no horse meat can be sold to the public, effectively ending the slaughter of horses in the United States. This defund language was removed from the FY 2012 appropriations bill, allowing horse slaughter facilities to once again request USDA inspections. Moran has spearheaded efforts in the House to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption.
According to the USDA, each horse slaughter facility opened in the U.S. would cost U.S. taxpayers over $400,000 per year in operation costs. Requiring USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants would even further decrease funding available for beef, chicken, and pork inspections - meat actually consumed by Americans.
Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances, including the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, which the FDA requires to be labeled “not for use in animals that will be eaten by humans.”
In addition to fiscal and public health concerns, public polls have consistently shown that nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption.
Congressman Jim Moran introducing the Moran-Young Amendment, which will effectively ban the practice of horse slaughter for human consumption. The Amendment passed the full Appropriations Committee by a voice vote on June 13, 2013. The provision will be included in the Fiscal Year 2014 Agricultural Appropriations Bill when it goes to the full House.
The federal Appropriations bill will be considered by the House Appropriations committee soon, and an amendment will be offered to prevent horse slaughter by defunding horse slaughter plant inspections.
Tell your legislators to Vote YES on the Moran Amendment to the House Appropriations Bill using HSUS Action Alert or by using below text to email directly to your reps.
Dear U.S. Representative,
Please support the amendment to defund horse slaughter inspections in the upcoming Appropriations bill. American taxpayer dollars should not be used to support the dark and predatory horse slaughter industry, which is opposed by 80% of Americans. Congress should not budget money for horse slaughter during these difficult fiscal times when widespread cuts are being made that affect our nation's most critical industries.
Not only is horse slaughter inherently cruel, but horsemeat is potentially toxic because American horses are routinely given hundreds of drugs and other substances, both legal and illegal, over their lifetimes that can be toxic to humans if ingested. These substances have not been approved and many have been specifically prohibited by the FDA for use in animals intended for human consumption. The slaughter of horses for human consumption on U.S. soil poses a serious threat to public health and puts the reputation of the U.S. agricultural industry at risk.
Today, the House Appropriations Committee marked up its agriculture spending bill for Fiscal Year 2014, and it included much good news for animals. Most notably, the committee approved by voice vote an amendment offered by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Bill Young, R-Fla., to forbid spending by USDA on inspections of horse slaughter plants on American soil. The Senate should follow suit.
A similar spending prohibition was put in place each year beginning in 2005, but was not renewed in 2011 or 2012, leading to the opportunity for
horse slaughter profiteers to initiate plans to reopen equine abattoirs in the
U.S at an estimated cost to taxpayers of at least $5 million each year. If the de-funding amendment restored by the committee survives the entire legislative process, it will block any effort to resume slaughter of horses for human consumption on U.S. soil. We are grateful to Reps. Moran and Young for leading this effort, and to all the committee members who voiced their approval for the measure to save horses from brutal slaughter and save taxpayers from the gambit of wasting their money on this predatory enterprise.
In other good news, the bill approved by the committee includes strong levels of funding for the USDA’s enforcement of key animal welfare laws such as the Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, animal fighting statute, and programs related to veterinary medical services and disaster planning for animals. This was despite a reduction in spending overall on federal programs, in a very competitive budgetary climate where every single program has its advocates. The animal welfare line items no doubt got a boost from the 164 Representatives and 34 Senators led by Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La., who signed letters to the House and Senate committees urging that they adequately fund the enforcement of animal welfare laws.
We are grateful to them and especially to House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Ranking Member Sam Farr, D-Calif., for supporting the strong funding levels in the House committee bill to help ensure
that the nation’s animal welfare laws are properly enforced. We will keep you posted on the spending levels as the appropriations bill moves through the process in the House and Senate, as well as next steps on the horse slaughter
Washington, DC – An amendment introduced by Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and Co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, to effectively ban the practice of horse slaughter for human consumption passed the full Appropriations Committee by a voice vote. The provision will be included in the Fiscal Year 2014 Agricultural Appropriations
Bill when it goes to the full House.
“Approval by the Appropriations Committee is the first important step in ending this inhumane practice once and for all. Today’s approval also sends a strong signal to businesses looking to make a profit off the slaughter and sale of these iconic creatures,” said Rep. Moran. “More than 80 percent of the American people oppose the practice of horse slaughter – our laws need to sync with our values.”
Specifically, the provision would prevent any funds from going to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct meat inspections at horse slaughter facilities. Without inspections, the practice of horse slaughter for human consumption is effectively banned. Moran’s amendment would reinstate the five-year ban on horse slaughter that was in place from 2006-2011.
During debate, Rep. Moran highlighted the proposed $31 million cut to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, calling it irresponsible to expand the agency’s scope of inspections while reducing its resources. Moran also noted that U.S. horse meat often contains harmful chemicals, such as the anti-inflammatory pain killing drug phenylbutazone, that the FDA requires to be
labeled “not for use in animals that will be eaten by humans.”
Polls show that 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption. Recent surveys have found that 67 percent of Oklahoma residents and 70 percent of New Mexico residents, two states where new slaughter plants could open, do not support horse slaughter in their state.
Moran introduced similar language to the FY ’12 Agricultural Appropriations Bill. Though adopted in the full House, the language was removed during conference committee in November. The FY’13 Agricultural Appropriations Bill also included a similar Moran amendment, but Congress failed to arrive at a compromise for FY’13 funding bills, instead operating from the FY’12 bill that does not contain the ban.
Congressman Patrick Meehan's letter to the House Appropriations Committee expressing his support for the Moran-Young Amendment that will prevent domestic horse slaughter by ending funding for the inspection of horse slaughter plants.
Sen. Landrieu, Reps. Meehan & Moran, school children and other horse activists push for permanent ban on horse slaughter.2013 "Horses on the Hill" in Washington, DC
On May 15th, 2013, U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan, D-Pa., and U.S. Representative Jim Moran, D-Va., co-sponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, will join school children and citizen advocates on Capitol Hill for a press conference to kick off “Horses on the Hill.” Participants will spend the day pushing for passage of the Safeguard AmericanFood Exports (SAFE) Act, which will prohibit horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export and slaughter of more than 150,000 American horses abroad each year and prevent the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.
The event is co-sponsored by the Animal Welfare Institute, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and the Humane Society of the United States. After the press conference, horse advocates - including local school children and young equestrians - will meet with legislators to ask that they permanently protect our nation’s horses from
WHEN: Wednesday, May 15 at 10:30 a.m.
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Rep. Patrick Meehan, D-Pa.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.
Bonnie-Jill Laflin, sports commentator, actress, horse owner
Wendie Malick, actress
Brittany Wallace, horse sold into slaughter, but rescued at last minute
Stacia Madden, equestrian and award winning show jumping trainer
John Boyd, president, National Black Farmers Association