Coalition of Bipartisan Lawmakers Urge Defunding of U.S. Horse Slaughter Plant Operations in FY21 Spending Bill
U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Katko (R-NY) took the lead in an effort to keep horse slaughter plants shuttered on U.S. soil.
In a letter sent to key leaders of Appropriations Committees, they urged for a continued restriction on the use of taxpayer funds for horse slaughter operations in the United States. This provision was included in both the House Fiscal Year 2021 agriculture appropriations bill and the administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request. This is a continuation of overwhelmingly popular policy that has been in place each year since Fiscal Year 2014 and for all but two years since 2005. This provision is necessary to stop the return of the predatory horse slaughter industry in America.
At a time when Congress faces difficult budgetary decisions to help Americans through the COVID-19 pandemic, expending limited funds to bolster a foreign owned industry should not be one of them. Horse slaughter is an inherently cruel practice that 80% of Americans want to see permanently banned.
Beyond fiscal concerns, flesh from American horses is not fit for human consumption. Equines are not considered food animals in the U.S. and therefore are not raised under the regulatory restrictions of animals used for that purpose. Throughout their lives, they routinely receive drugs and medications that are specifically banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in food animals due to their toxicity to humans.
85 additional U.S. Representatives signed the letter, sending a strong message to leadership that horse slaughter plants are not welcome in the USA and not one penny of taxpayer money should be allocated to fund them.
The ban on spending taxpayer dollars to inspect Horse Slaughter will remain the law through the end of the fiscal year; September 30, 2015. With President Obama signing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, the United States will continue to forbid the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption.
The language specifically bans the use of federal funding for inspections at such facilities, maintaining the de facto ban on domestic horse slaughter and saving taxpayer dollars, and thwarts efforts in at least three states to start killing horses on U.S. soil for export to foreign nations.
Earlier this month, the European Commission decided to suspend horsemeat imports from Mexico due to food safety concerns. U.S. horses account for 87 percent of the horses slaughtered in Mexico for export to the EU and are regularly administered drugs and other substances over the course of their lives that are potentially toxic to humans. A recent audit conducted by the EU also noted issues with inhumane treatment of American horses in holding pens on U.S. soil and during transport to slaughter.
The omnibus spending bill included strong fund levels for enforcement of animal welfare and anti-wildlife trafficking programs, as well as helpful provisions to encourage more humane management of wild horses on public lands, development of alternatives to animal testing, and updated regulations on treatment of captive marine mammals. However, it also contained adverse provisions to benefit the gun lobby (restrictions on regulating the lead content of ammunition) and the farm lobby (restrictions on regulating greenhouse gas emissions from CAFOs and overseeing the beef check-off program).
It’s official. The controversial horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico will not be opening. “I think it’s just time to stop and see what will happen now,” said Valley Meat Owner Rick De Los Santos.
For almost four years, De Los Santos has been trying to slaughter horses for food. He’s faced court battles from animal rights groups and the Attorney General along with federal push back. Earlier this year the President signed a bill to stop funding horse slaughterhouse inspections until 2016.
Friday, De Le Santos told KRQE News 13 the fight is over. “It really is at this point at the end of that business in Roswell by them,” said Valley Meat Attorney A. Blair Dunn. On Thursday, Dunn submitted a letter to the New Mexico Environmental Department withdrawing the plant’s application for a ground water discharge permit.
The permit, which would allow the plant to discharge animal waste, is a must for the plant to operate. Blair claims the department strung them along for seven months, never saying no the permit, but never saying yes either.
“They’ve been telling us well we need a 30-day extension, we need 45 days, we need 60, we cant make a decision right now,” said De Los Santos.
The letter states the inability of the Secretary to make a decision has contributed to the destruction of Valley Meat’s lawful business. Valley Meet also claims the Attorney General’s office played a big role in the slaughterhouse closure and Dunn says there’s a good chance they’ll sue the state because of it.
Animal activists say they’re happy the horse slaughter fight is ending. “It’s great news for New Mexico,” said Laura Bonar with Animal Protection of New Mexico. “Horse slaughter is cruel, horse slaughter is dangerous and horse slaughter is not supported by Americans.”
Source: KRQE, by Emily Younger
Click here to read Valley Meat's Notice of Withdrawal of Application to the New Mexico Environmental Department.
MONTH / yEAR