with Horse and Hound

Congress Expected to Reverse Defacto Ban on Horse Slaughter

This year, Congress is expected to reverse the defacto ban on horse slaughter in the U.S.

Annually, since 2005, the appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has arrived at both houses of Congress with riders (sponsored by the HSUS) disallowing any funds that would allow USDA to inspect horses in transit to slaughter facilities. It was a backdoor move by animal rights activists (and approved by many horse lovers that cannot bear the thought of horses for human consumption) that effectively ended all horse slaughter in the U.S.

In a report to Congress earlier this year, the General Accounting Office (GAO)—Congress’s objective and apolitical investigative arm—said in essence that horse welfare has been harmed by the closing of slaughter houses in the U.S. (See Foxhunting Life news report.)

This year it appears that Congress will heed the GAO report. The conference committee preparing the legislation for Congress’s vote has omitted these riders to the bill, and once the bill reaches Congress, no amendments can be appended. If the bill passes as expected, USDA inspection of horses in transit could resume, and the reopening of slaughter houses in the U.S. could be economically feasible once again.

At the time the last facilities were closed, there were one hundred thousand horses being disposed of annually. As the GAO found during their investigation, retirement facilities were unable to absorb even a small fraction of unwanted horses, and in 2010, 138,000 horses were exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

“The horses are traveling farther to meet the same end….in foreign slaughtering facilities where U.S. humane slaughtering protections do not apply,” said the GAO in their report.

Posted November 16, 2011