Carter, Fitzpatrick, Katko Amendment Offered to the INVEST Act to Ban the Transport of Slaughter-Bound Horses Within USA and Over the Borders to Canada and Mexico
June, 8, 2021, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Troy Carter (D-LA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and John Katko (R-NY) introduced an amendment to H.R. 3684, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST) Act, which would ban the transportation of slaughter-bound horses across state lines or over the borders to Canada or Mexico for butchering. If the amendment passes through the gateways of the legislative process, it will effectively put an end to the slaughtering of all U.S. horses, wild and domestic.
While horse slaughter does not currently occur on U.S. soil due to a de facto ban achieved through the appropriations process, more than 30,000 domestic and wild horses are shipped to Mexico and Canada each year to be slaughtered for human consumption in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.
Transporting horses to slaughter across the USA and over the borders is unsafe and has caused multiple serious accidents on American highways. As recently as October 2020, 14 horses were killed and 11 badly injured when a truck driving the animals to slaughter flipped on a highway in Franklin County, Missouri.
The Save America's Forgotten Equine (SAFE) Act, H.R.3355, was recently introduced by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), which would prohibit horse slaughter plants from opening on U.S. soil and ban the transportation of slaughter-bound horses and over the borders. Unfortunately, enactment of the SAFE Act continues to be an uphill battle due to industrial agriculture interests and pro-slaughter members of Congress. For this reason, the Carter, Fitzpatrick, Katko amendment was introduced as an innovative pathway to end the slaughter of American equines once and for all.
Within days of the announcement, the amendment garnered over 200 endorsements from organizations, veterinarians, and equine professionals across the nation; including equine rescues, U.S. horse racing leaders, and state horse breeders associations. The list continues to grow.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) urges the Interior Department to suspend its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program over reports that some program participants have abandoned animals at slaughter auctions in direct opposition to the program’s requirements.
“I write with great concern regarding the New York Times article, which indicates that the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program has provided federal incentive payments to adopters who abandoned these animals at slaughter auctions,” Senator Feinstein. “I strongly urge BLM to immediately suspend this program and conduct a thorough investigation to ensure federal funds are used to protect wild horses and burros against abuse, neglect, or slaughter, as intended by Congress.”
Full text of the letter follows:
2021 GRAZING FEES ON AMERICA'S PUBLIC LANDS REMAIN AT LEGAL ROCK BOTTOM: $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM)
Today the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service announced that 2021 federal grazing fees on national forests and grasslands will remain at $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) — the lowest price allowed by law.
An animal unit month (AUM) is the use of public lands by a cow/calf pair, five goats or sheep, or by a single bull, steer, heifer, horse, burro, or mule. The fee will apply to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the Bureau of Land Management and nearly 6,250 permits administered by the Forest Service.
A CONFLICT WITH WILD HORSES AND WILDLIFE
Many grazing permits overlap with Herd Management Areas (HMA) where our wild horses and burros are legally entitled to graze under the statutes of the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. In addition to native predators such as cougars, bears and wolves, wild horses are continually targeted for removal because of conflicts with domestic livestock on public lands. Through lobbying and lawsuits, the American mustang has become both a target and a scapegoat for the livestock industry's agenda to dominate and control public lands for their own grazing use.
SUBSIDIZING WELFARE RANCHERS ON THE TAXPAYERS DIME
$1.35 per AUM is an outright giveaway to ranchers that graze millions of environmentally destructive cattle and sheep on America's public lands. In addition to the ecological cost, the program is funded by the U.S. taxpayers, estimated at $500 million to $1 billion per year. In contrast, the grazing fee on private lands in 16 western states is approximated at $22.00 a month.
The formula used for calculating the AUM grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act and as amended in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has continued under a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986. Under that Order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per head month and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25% of the previous year's level. The grazing fees apply to rangelands managed by both the USDA Forest Service and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
Raising grazing fees would be a good start. The increased cost might encourage ranchers to find new ways to raise their animals instead of relying on subsidized use of public lands — and to protect fragile habitats in the process. In addition, federal legislation, the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, would provide grazing permit holders the option to voluntarily waive their permits to graze on federal lands in exchange for market value compensation paid by private parties. The federal agency would then be directed to retire the associated grazing allotment from further grazing activity.
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