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.
Congress' latest budget bill blocks the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S. by cutting funding for inspections of the process. The prohibition on spending by the Department of Agriculture is included in the $1.1 trillion budget bill that Congress sent to President Obama on Thursday, January 16, 2014.
Animal protection groups applauded the vote.
"Americans care for horses, we ride horses, and we even put them to work. But we don't eat horses in the United States. And we shouldn't be gathering them up and slaughtering them for people to eat in far-off places," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, one of a number of groups involved in litigation that has blocked proposed horse slaughterhouses from opening in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa.
The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress first cut funding for the inspections in an attempt to shutter the industry.
Funding was restored in 2011, and Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., has been fighting since to convert its small cattle operation to horse slaughter. Last year, Valley and plants in Iowa and Missouri received federal permits to open, but the efforts have been blocked by a series of court orders.
Valley's efforts ignited an emotional, national debate over whether horses are companion animals or livestock, and sparked divisions between rescue groups, Indian tribes and politicians over the most humane way to deal with neglected and abandoned horses.
Proponents argue it is better to slaughter unwanted horses domestically than have them shipped thousands of miles to Canada or less humane facilities in Mexico.
"The message from Capitol Hill is loud and clear on this issue: Our horses deserve better, and this abhorrent industry will not be tolerated," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations.
Despite the growing government action to keep horse slaughter from resuming, an attorney for Valley and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., said Thursday his group will continue to fight to produce horse meat.
Blair Dunn said the companies would be looking at filing a claim that the funding ban violates provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Source: AP by Jeri Clausing
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today announced that the bill funding the government for FY2014 includes a ban on domestic horse slaughter. The ban prohibits the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using federal funds to inspect horsemeat intended for human consumption, effectively banning domestic horse slaughter and protecting the public from toxic horse meat. The provision, coauthored with Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is expected to pass both the House and Senate this week before going to the President for his signature. Sen. Landrieu added the language to the FY2014 Appropriations bill in June that funds the Department of Agriculture, which was part of today's funding bill.
“I am relieved that horse slaughter is now banned in the United States, protecting the American public from the very serious health and safety risks posed by horse meat. Slaughtering horses is inhumane, disgusting and unnecessary, and there is no place for it in the United States.
I appreciate Sen. Graham's partnership to ban this cruel practice, keep our food supply safe and save taxpayer dollars,” Sen. Landrieu said. “I will continue to push for the passage of the SAFE Act, which aims to permanently ban the slaughter of horses in the United States and prohibits the transport of America’s horses to other countries for slaughter.”
The ban included in the FY2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill would last for the duration of the bill. To permanently ban horse slaughter, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would permanently prohibit horse slaughter operations in the U.S., and end the current export and slaughter of more than 150,000 American horses abroad each year. The SAFE Act has the bipartisan support of 28 Senators. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. and has the bipartisan support of 163 congressmen.
Press Release: Mary Landrieu, U.S. Senator for Lousiana
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