Domestic horse slaughter plants have been closed in the U.S. since 2007, as funding for plant inspections was revoked in 2005, effectively ending the industry. However, within the last two years, there has been some threat that horse slaughter plants would pop up again in the U.S.
Why, you ask? Well, in 2011, Congress decided to reinstate funding for domestic horse slaughterhouse inspections. In essence, if funding is available for these inspections, then production can proceed unhindered.
In response to this 2011 decision, some companies in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico have been actively trying to reopen horse slaughterhouses, where horse meat would be processed and shipped overseas to countries that consume it or incorporate it into animal feed.
Naturally, such news enraged animal lovers across the U.S. and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Front Range Equine Rescue soon sprung into action, filing a lawsuit after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued horse slaughter plant permits to three companies last year.
Unfortunately, this lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but not long after in November 2013, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., issued a temporary injunction halting the USDA’s inspections of prospective horse slaughter plants in New Mexico and Missouri.
As you can see, the horse slaughter debate has been a long and sometimes confusing one in the U.S. But, now, just a couple months after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ injunction, another victory is in the works for America’s horses!
According to the HSUS, Congress has just released the details of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 spending bill and it includes language that would “halt any efforts to resume horse slaughter for human consumption on U.S. soil.” Fantastic, right?!
If the FY 2014 passes without any changes in both the House and Senate (voting could take place as early as this week!), then the USDA would be forbidden from spending money on U.S. horse slaughter plant inspections, thereby reinstating a ban on domestic horse slaughter for the fiscal year!
The FY 2014 omnibus package also includes other language that will be beneficial to animals from providing additional funding for the USDA’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act to increased funds for the USDA’s enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, which aims, among other things, to protect show horses from the cruel practice of soring.
While there is plenty to rejoice about within omnibus package, to ensure that horse slaughter plants never set foot on U.S. soil again, stronger and more permanent protections will need to be set in place (remember the funding package is only valid for the 2014 fiscal year). This is why the HSUS is currently working to garner support for the Safeguard American Food Exports Act (SAFE) or H.R. 1094 / S. 541.
As the HSUS states, this act would:
- Outlaw horse slaughter operations in the U.S.
- End the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad.
- Protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.
To continue reigning in the victories for U.S. horses, be sure to contact your two U.S. senators and your U.S. representative and urge them to co-sponsor the SAFE Act. You can do so by visiting this action alert page, but just remember to tailor your email so that it stands out!
Image source: will g / Flickr