Since 2006, horse slaughter has been essentially banned in the United States, due to Congressional refusal to fund USDA inspections of horses at United States Slaughter Houses. It is sad to say that on November 18th, this ban was silently lifted when Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, a USDA spending bill that reinstated federal funding for inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption- effectively lifting the ban on domestic horse slaughter.
The lifting of the ban was the direct result of a Congressional Subcommittee Report “Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter” which connected the 2006 slaughter ban to an increase in neglect and abandonment of horses, as well as a drop in the price for horses. According to the report, the 2006 ban also resulted in a dramatic increase of horses being shipped to both Canada and Mexico for slaughter, with 138,000 horses having been shipped for slaughter in 2010 alone. Animal welfare organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States argue that allowing domestic horse slaughter is not the proper tool for these managing issues, and instead posit that the move is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Their arguments ring true when reports show that 70% of polled Americans are opposed to horse slaughter.
As things stand it is estimated that 120,000 to 200,000 horses will be slaughtered a year for human consumption. Furthermore, according to pro-slaughter group United Horsemen, plants are already being considered in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Georgia and Missouri
President Obama, who made a campaign statement that he would support legislation to institute a permanent ban on horse slaughter and exports of horses for human consumption, may have some explaining to do to animal welfare organizations that have protested his actions.
Hopefully, however, this is not the end of the battle to protect horses. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 2966), which hopes to prohibit the sale or transport of horses or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce, is currently before Congress and at least one of our country’s representatives will be shooting for a win. Rep Jim Moran (D-VA) stated, after the ban was lifted, that “[W]e’ve far from seen the last word on this issue. I am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent the resumption of horse slaughter and will force Congress to debate this important policy in an open, democratic manner at every opportunity. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that Congress pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 2966) to permanently prohibit the slaughter of American horses.”
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