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In late May, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of next year’s Agriculture Appropriations bill (S.2389) which provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2015 fiscal year. The bill once again contains an amendment that in effect will continue the ban on the humane slaughter of horses in the U.S.

Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered the amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities. Their amendment passed by an 18-12 vote. Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) spoke in opposition to the amendment.

This sets up the likelihood of a repeat of this year’s congressional action on the current budget that ended a brief interlude of construction planning for new slaughter plants in the U.S.

Congress did this very same thing in 2006, but in 2011, the highly respected General Accounting Office (GAO)—Congress’s own watchdog agency—reported bluntly to Congress that their funding cut and the resultant plant closures actually had the opposite effect from that intended. The GAO told Congress that horses were now traveling further (to Mexico and Canada) and in many cases were slaughtered under worse conditions than before, and that their legislation had harmed horse welfare.

After receiving that report, in 2011 Congress reinstated the funding for USDA inspections, opening the door for a resumption of horse processing in this country. As a result of that action, the USDA in 2013 gave approval for the opening of horse slaughter plants in New Mexico and Missouri. However, lawsuits filed by animal rights activists repeatedly delayed those openings.

HSUS and the Obama administration both lobbied to end horse slaughter in the U.S. Yet unsolved, however, is the issue of how to humanely cope with the more than 100,000 unwanted and abandoned horses that used to pass through those processing facilities each year.

Posted May 31, 2014

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