Spending law effectively bans U.S. horse slaughter - again

By Sarah Gonzalez

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Included in the $1 trillion omnibus spending package President Obama signed into law Friday is a provision prohibiting funds from being used for USDA inspections of horse slaughter facilities. A similar prohibition was put in place in 2005, effectively banning horse slaughter in the U.S., but it expired in 2011.

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Since the previous inspection ban expired in 2011, Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., attempted to convert its cattle operation to horse slaughter. Valley Meat, along with other companies in Missouri and Iowa, last year won federal permits to operate, but the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and a few other animal organizations filed suit against USDA to block those facilities from opening.

However, the appropriations bill is only in effect for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1, explained John Dillard, an attorney with OFW Law in Washington. So, the legal controversy could continue.

Some congressional opponents of an inspection ban say that without domestic slaughter facilities, horses are shipped across national borders, a process in which they are often mistreated. 

“This is a 100 percent emotional issue,” Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said when the House Appropriations Committee approved the amendment effectively banning horse slaughter last year. “People now are sending horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.”

HSUS, which lobbied for the reinstated ban on funding for horse slaughter facility inspections, is now urging Congress to pass a permanent ban on domestic horse slaughter with the Safeguard American Food Exports Act.

Sponsors of the horse slaughter amendment in the spending law included Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and the late Bill Young, R-Fla., Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

 “We stopped slaughtering horses on U.S. soil in 2007, and it's the right policy to continue that prohibition,” HSUS President Wayne Pacelle said in a statement. “We hope that all parties associated with this issue can agree to stop the inhumane export of live horses to Canada and protect all American horses from a disreputable, predatory industry.”

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