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Horse slaughter ban included in proposed 2014 U.S. budget

The new budget would reinstate the ban on funding for horse meat inspections that was in place until 2012.

April 12, 2013

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Horse in Fog Horse slaughter is not presently illegal in the United States, but no commercial operations currently exist due to past regulations and an American public that is largely unsupportive of the industry. Players on both sides of the horse meat debate have been struggling for a decisive victory for years, but without a comprehensive law on the books defining the legality of the industry, a concrete answer has been elusive.

A recent budget proposal for 2014 released by the White House would help swing the pendulum in the favor of the anti-horse-slaughter camp. From 2006 through 2011, the agriculture appropriations law included language banning federal funds from being used to pay for horse meat inspections. Federal inspections are required for meat exports, and so without those inspections, the horse meat industry in the United States was shut down.

In 2012, the appropriations bill was passed without the horse meat inspection ban, opening the door for a re-emergence of an American horse slaughter industry. Business operators jumped on the opportunity, seeking to create a profitable business from what some see as a glut of so-called unwanted horses that would otherwise be exported to slaughter in Canada or Mexico. Currently, no American horse slaughterhouses have opened.

Surveys have shown that the vast majority of Americans are opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and elected officials are aware of this. The recent horse meat scandal in Europe has undoubtedly bolstered opposition to processing horse meat in the United States as consumers have become more concerned about the integrity of the food-supply chain.

In response to the horse meat debate, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has returned language outlawing commercial horse slaughter in the proposed 2014 budget. The relevant section states:

SEC. 725. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to-(1) inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603); (2) inspect horses under section 903 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901 note; Public Law 104127); or (3) implement or enforce section 352.19 of title 9, Code of Federal Regulations.

Because new budgets are continually proposed and approved, this wording would have to be included every year in order for the ban to remain in place. Legislators have regularly introduced bills to make commercial horse slaughter illegal, most recently in the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act proposed last month. Previously, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act was introduced in multiple sessions of Congress, but never reached a full vote.

Further Reading
Timeline of Horse Slaughter Legislation

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Horse slaughter ban included in proposed 2014 U.S. budget

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Reader Comments

Wade    Denver, CO

5/3/2014 1:26:44 PM

I have been involved in the equine industry for multiple years now and have seen both the good and bad effects horse slaughter has had on the industry. I would have to agree that it is inhumane on how they slaughter these horses, but I disagree with the fact that it is cruel to these beloved animals. Because if you think about it; would you rather have them starve to death or be put down with in a minute or two instead of months to weeks of suffering.

Also I want you to think about all the starving people in foreign countries. With all the excess horses in this country they would also be a great source of food, and maybe even help to put an end to world hunger since most of these horses are sent overseas.

Lastly is that when horse slaughter was in affect it helped not only the slaughter industry, but the equine industry as well. This is true, because when there were no unwanted horses and more customers, horse prices rose, but now that everyone has a horse, prices have dropped. This has dramatically effected us who try to make a living in the equine industry. I have had friends lose their businesses and facilities and I would just like everyone to re-think their point of view on HORSE SLAUGTHER?

Clarissa    Provo, UT

7/12/2013 6:46:55 PM

Horse slaughter is not only cruel and inhumane to horses, it is harmful to humans as well. In its lifetime, a horse is given medications and other toxic substances that would be harmful to humans and animals that consume its meat. Horse meat is not sold in the United States, but it is exported to other countries.

Horses are beautiful, intelligent animals that bring joy and friendship into our lives. We need to protect these sensitive animals from being killed.

Horses can't speak for themselves, but we can be their voice. Let congress know that Americans won't stand by while these precious animals are butchered.
Please don't be a bystander, be a rescuer! Follow this link to act today:

Pat    Great Falls, MT

4/15/2013 7:31:38 PM

There's no $ to support horse meat inspections, the beef/sheep/goat etc inspectors have enough on their hands and the money used, out of MY pocket, should NOT be used for such inspections. Bill, you're the idiot.

Gee and Haw    Northern Part, CA

4/13/2013 6:40:36 AM

I had to sell a few of well loved horses, due to the death of our son, but I really tried to make sure that the people who brought them, thought the saame as me, about slaughter. Many of the families had lots of kids, and the horses would become part of their families.

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