WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 – A provision allowing for the restoration of USDA-sponsored inspections of horse processing facilities is included in the appropriations bill conference report passed in the House of Representatives tonight. The bill sets the 2012 budgets for multiple departments, including Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD. The House approved the bill in a 298-121 vote while the Senate voted 70-30 in favor of the bill. 

Since 2005, no federal money could be used to inspect horse slaughter facilities in the U.S., as stipulated in the Agricultural Appropriations bill. Without USDA inspections, horse slaughterhouses for human consumption cannot effectively operate, because the meat may not ship across state lines and a majority of the market for horse meat is overseas. Although this clause had support due the undesirable idea of horse meat for human consumption in the U.S., many believe the ban had “unintended consequences,” including mistreatment of horses the owners could no longer afford and inhumane conditions used to ship horses to slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico.

“For the first time since 2005, the de-facto ban on horse processing has been taken off the table,” Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE). “While we have a long way to go, responsible processing represents a vital first step in reversing the unintended consequences to blame for the dismal state of neglected horses and their frustrated caregivers across our country. Reinstating a humane, accountable, and legal management tool is good for horses, good for owners, and is good policy.”

In June, the Government Accountability Office released a study on domestic horse slaughter, which reported an increase in the number of neglected or abandoned horses in the years since the ban took effect.  However, the analysis recognized the difficulty of distinguishing between the impact of the slaughter ban and the effects of other factors like recession or drought. The GAO report recommended that Congress allow the USDA to resume inspection of horses for slaughter or consider a permanent ban on horse slaughter.

Animal and equine welfare groups oppose the ban lift and continue to promote passage of the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, sponsored by Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN). The bill bans all horsemeat exports to packing houses and permanently bans horse slaughter in the U.S. 

"It is outrageous that American taxpayers would be required to subsidize foreign owned businesses that Americans oppose and that produces meat from animals that are not raised for food,” according to the Equine Welfare Alliance.


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