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House Advances Funding Bill That Bans Horse Slaughter, Gives FDA Small Boost

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a $19.45 billion funding bill to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, among other agencies, for fiscal year 2014. The bill would ban funding for USDA horse slaughter inspection and give FDA a relatively minor boost for food safety — $27 million out of a $4.3 billion budget for the entire agency.

The legislation — which is $1.3 billion lower than FY 2013 and $516 million below President Obama’s budget request — would give the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service $999 million, a $31 million decrease over the last fiscal year.  The Agricultural Research Service would get $2.5 billion.

Under the plan, the FDA would get nearly $2.5 billion in discretionary funding, but including revenue from user fees the agency would see $4.3 billion. “Within this total, food safety activities are increased by $27 million, and drug safety activities are increased by $2.5 million,” according to the appropriations committee. The FDA would also get a $35 million sum to revamp its IT system. The increases are modest in the context of FDA’s expanding food safety authority. The Congressional Budget Office estimated, for example, that FDA would need about $1.4 billion in additional funding over five years just to properly implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

“This is a very good bill we put together,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), chairman of the subcommittee on agriculture appropriations, during a full committee markup on Thursday.

There were a handful of food safety-related amendments discussed during the meeting.

An amendment by Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Bill Young (R-FL) that would prohibit USDA funding for horse slaughter inspection, which would essentially ban the practice in the United States, was approved by voice vote. Animal welfare advocates praised the move, as they argue the practice is inhumane, unnecessary, and presents a health risk because horses are often given drugs that can linger in horsemeat and are harmful to people who consume the meat.

Read more coverage on the horse slaughter debate here.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) urged the committee to adopt language asking USDA to move forward on a proposed rule to “modernize poultry inspection.”

“Basically we’re trying to keep up with technology,” said Kingston, discussing the merits of the long-running  HACCP-based Inspection Models Project. Kingston noted that USDA has been using the pilot extensively for 10 years but has yet to finalize a rule to expand the program.

“This would improve the science,” said Kingston during markup. His amendment urging USDA to move forward was adopted on a voice vote over concerns raised by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

DeLauro said during markup that she and her colleagues still have several questions about the program, especially about how it would impact food and worker safety, in large part because the rule allows plants to speed up their line speeds. She asked the committee to wait on asking USDA to move forward until the results of National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) studies were completed.

Rep. Kingston also introduced an amendment aimed at preventing “bureaucratic overreach” to ensure FDA was not planning to extend FSMA authority over raw grains and oil seeds, which don’t have a record of food safety issues.

“All I’m trying to do is make sure FDA stays in the lane its already traveling in,” he said during the meeting.

Subcommittee ranking member Farr objected and said he thought the amendment was aimed at a non-problem. “I don’t think your amendment does anything,” he said.

Kingston noted that he did not support FSMA because he believes it is unnecessary and duplicative and then withdrew the proposal and said he’d work with his colleagues on the matter.

DeLauro was also unsuccessful with her amendment seeking to strip language from the appropriations bill that would delay implementation of country of origin labeling for meat and poultry products. “This could delay a rule for up to two years,” she said.

The congresswoman noted that seafood, produce, and other items indicate their country of origin on the labeling and so she argued that consumers had a right to know where their meat and poultry originated as well.

Subcommittee chair Aderholt noted that Canada and Mexico have geared up to retaliate against the the latest version of USDA’s rule, because they believe it fails to meet the United State’s obligation under the World Trade Organization.

DeLauro, who expressed strong disagreement and noted that 90 percent of consumers support country of origin labeling for meats, withdrew her amendment, acknowledging that she didn’t have the support to pass it.

Public health advocates said Thursday they were pleased the appropriations bill also contains report language directing FDA to spend $7.8 million on the National Microbial Resistance Monitoring System and to come up with a data collection approach that can be used to “assess the effectiveness of policies to curb antibiotic resistance.” The report language directs FDA to finalize its Guidance #213 by Jan. 1, 2014 and then to make specific annual reports on the progress of the removal of growth promotion claims on certain medically important antibiotics.

The legislation, which cleared the full appropriations committee by voice vote, will next be considered by the full House, where it will likely be subject to many amendments.

© Food Safety News
  • Judy M. Rivers

    Thank the good Lord that there are still men of integrity and humanity making our laws and know that the slaughter of America’s horses is so very wrong on so many levels. Now, if we can get the SAFE Act passed and stop the transport of horses to slaughter in our great nation, we can know that America’s beloved horses are spared much pain, trauma, and suffering. Thank you, Congressmen, for doing the right and honorable thing. God bless you for not letting greed and evil prevail.

    • Bonnie Thompson Jensen

      Judy, you do know that some of these horses are being turned loose to fend for themselves? How can that be good? Worse yet some of them have a slow starvation death when people cannot afford to feed them. Maybe some of these unwanted horses can be brought to your place, do you want a truck load? It can be arranged very quickly!

      • MorganLvr

        No, they are NOT! Where are you getting this CRAP! The only horses that are being turned loose to fend for themselves are the horses that are turned down by the Mexican slaughter plant. The kill buyers who brought them there in the first place just abandon them if the slaughter plant rejects them. If local owners were to abandon a horse, they should be reported to the police. Abandonment is a crime, and these owners should feel the full force of the law. However, this isn’t actually happening anywhere but at the border and in the minds of pro-slaughter dupes like you. Do your homework, and STOP aiding and abetting the most heartless, cruel and egregious criminals I’ve EVER heard of. Are you really SO dumb that you don’t know the owners who supposedly abandoned these horses could have taken them to slaughter if they had chosen to? So IF you have actually SEEN abandoned horses – which you DID report, right? – they were either slaughter plant rejects or their owners CHOSE not to sell them for slaughter. Either way, building another horse slaughter plant won’t make a bit of difference since slaughter is totally available to those who choose to use it. GOD! Educate yourself or don’t post!

      • stop it

        So does that mean you are turning your horses loose, bonnie?

      • elizabeth dana

        Last year over 6000 horses that were starved, injured and so close to death as unfit for slaughter to Mexico were suddenly ” disappeared from kill buyers trailers and accountability” -meaning those $25 meat horses were thrown out into New Mexico, Texas and other border states in a practice of absolute animal cruelty known as “Staging”. After the horses are thrown out to die deserted and starving….phone calls are made to local police and newspapers to create press…. These are the horses you are wanted to sell by the truck load! Undercover filming following kill buyers trucks show rejected horses dragged off onto returning trucks…..by the way this is one of the best covers for drug smuggling is in a horse blood and feces covered trailer so don’t even ask why horse slaughter should be stopped on so many levels….now about those 1700 healthy Wild Mustangs Tom Davis bought for $10 a piece from BLM and shipped to SLAUGHTER…..I would like to have all 1700 of them back..they were not starving……educate yourself first about cause and effect and then open your mind up to the terrible truth that Horse Slaughtering is an evil cover for drugs, black market beef fraud, horse theft, kill buyer scams and an entire host of opportunities for people to lie to the public. If for example if all the old and starving horses (which is not the ones kill buyers want) were all slaughtered, then what? Start Raising Horse just to be killed??? Bred Horses for meat- seems to counteract and contradict why they want horse slaughter house so in 2 years horses will be butchered for what? Dog food in China…..How WRONG IS THAT!!

      • Glow Amy

        What a crock. What part of ” THE SLAUGHTER OPTION NEVER ENDED” do pro slaughter people not get? (Actually, what they PRETEND not to get. ) The pro slaughter people just ignore the recession that has affected all businesses, and continue to parrot their proven lie that the closing of the U.S. plants is what caused any and all horse problems, including more unwanted , abandoned or abused horses When that’s IMPOSSIBLE! Because horse slaughter and the slaughter option has never ended! There are more horses sold to slaughter now than before the U.S. horse slaughter plants were closed. Now 100% are being shipped to Canada and Mexico when before it was around 30%. A little deductive reasoning, please. You can’t attribute negative consequences to something that HASN’T CHANGED. If people wanted to sell their horse to slaughter, THEY STILL COULD. They can take them to any horse auction in the country and the kill buyers are still there buying as many or more horses then ever.

      • savinghorses2

        AW Bonnie, still a single believer in the abandoned horses plight-did they forget to give you the rest of the paragragh? you know the one that reads the killer buyers abandoned the horses after they were turned away from the Mexico plant. 11,000 animals were abandoned. As for the unverified facts from the pro-slaughter agenda report GAO they noted they have NO proof of these so-called abandoned animals. After a gentleman came up to me and stated that killer buyers had decided to release horses at auctions to complain and say they were abandoned by real owners I actually believe that killer buyer was telling the truth, he said they were instructed to do this to make it appear to the public the animals were abandoned.

      • Nancy Canarelli Watson

        The only way to end a horses life humanely is euthanasia. Period. Horse slaughter is extremely cruel and inhumane. Over 90% of horses sent to slaughter are perfectly healthy, they’re not starved or neglected. Owners who can no longer care for their horses will give away or sell their horse for a song to a broker who “has just the right home for this horse”, only to sell it to a kill buyer. Over 80% of Americans are opposed to horse slaughter. TB breeders will just keep breeding until they find their next Secretariat or Seattle Slew. Those that dont make the cut go to slaughter. The cattle industry and breeders are the ONLY ones who want it. The horse slaughter industry is a dirty, shady business. We need to get rid of it once and for all. WE DONT WANT IT IN THE US!

      • April lynn RN

        Maybe you could be the one to stand there and pound a pointed meal object through there skull. idiot

      • Terry Warfield-Hess

        with slaughter in Canada and Mexico and auction houses and Kill buyers everywhere you statement above makes no sense..@bonniethompsonjensen:disqus

      • http://www.facebook.com/blpaints Barbara Leonard

        Do your research…..most of the horses turned loose to fend for themselves are in states on the way to either Mexican or Canadian horseslaughter houses…..these horses have been turned loose by the KILL BUYERS after the horses were rejected by the slaughterhouse. Nice folks, hey? Your comments, Bonnie Thompson Jensen, do not impress anyone.

      • savinghorses2

        And Bonnie, the killer buyers dump animals that cannot be slaughter on the USA side of the Mexican border. The Mexican EU plant actually rejects horses that are serious condition, mares in foal, and other disqualified animals. They dumped over 11,000 last year alone. An organization that was pro-slaughter dumped animals regular then would tell stories about how they had to take in random horses but when investigated there was NO fact to support them. In fact, many people said the stories were made up when pressed for information their own neighbors told on them. So you see Bonnie, killer buyers will need to dump some of their unwanted cargo somewhere and the best part is everyone who joined the horse slaughter club now has the opportunity to take them in as well, or are you all too good to help a horse out?

      • gisles

        Solving a bad death with another one is not the answer. Most horse meat is not safe to eat. Our horses are subjected to so many drugs during their lives. Did you know that bute in horse meat can cause cancer. It’s very common.
        Just like with dogs and cats we should stop the overbreeding.

    • Teresa Donovan

      AGREED!

  • savinghorses2

    Bravo! What a historic moment, now we have to keep the momentum rolling. Someone should tell Mr. Dunne there are other animals his client can have option to slaughter, horses are NOT it. Politicians are protecting our children and foreign families from the deaths they shouldn’t have to endure. They are taking action, being pro-active saves lives. The amendment must make it through and I hope and Pray the Senators understand that they are in the position to save the horses, American heritage, and the Food Chain all at one time. WE are completely backing anyone who votes for the defunding to save the horses. We pray they stand tall and realize that the slaughter industry doesn’t prevent abuse, in fact, it’s own statistics last year were 160,000 animals abused in the slaughter pipeline and within the two plants. We can also prove it doesn’t prevent welfare issues or starvation. In fact, many people would actually starve a horse to death than send it to be viciously killed. We need to let them know we stand behind them as they make their decisions, cast their votes, and they can have the utmost confidence they are siding to save the horses and its the best possible solution to the problems we are faced with world wide. Our foreign neighbors deserve to know we will refuse to send dangerous drugs in our horse meat to their country. We are here to protect each other, and the USDA is trying to find the best method by which to do this-banning it completely is best. As for people who consumed horse meat way back in the day, make sure you remind the Senators that was a long time before many drugs were developed for equine use. In fact rabies vaccine was just discovered. We cannot consume the meat knowing the chances we taking with the lottery of which drug will be the one that kills you or gives cancer. Contact your Senator and ask that they support the amendment and let them know we care about the welfare of horses which is why we want it shut down. As far as where the horses that are unwanted go. Well they haven’t all been bought so the killers don’t have that many set aside. So there wont be many to find homes for. We also know there are people everywhere who will take horses who can afford them. Keep on moving on! We Will NOT take NO for an answer! Stop Slaughter!

  • linda

    I hate the thoughts of horses going to slaughter…..it breaks my
    heart..but so does a horse slowly starving to death..and there have been
    many this last year..people try and do a good thing without even
    considering the consequences..I have never seen so many neglected horses
    as i have in the last couple years..just 10 miles from me a lady had a
    pile of 25 dead horses out behind her barn and this is just one of many
    horror stories. Look at the horses on the rescue sites..some are just
    bones and hair,,thank god they do find homes for some..but some are
    beyond help. We do not live in a perfect world..but being shipped to
    Canada and the Mexican horror slaughter houses is certainly not a better
    fate than they used to have.

    • Babs Hennelly Kothe

      Linda read the above posts..there is nothing stopping these abusers from sending their horses to slaughter..the fact is, they are abusers, hoarders, uneducated on horse husbandry,or people who just don’t care about the welfare of their animals. None of those situations would be alleviated with slaughter. If your premise was true, there would be no starving or abused horses..they would all go to slaughter. Canada and Mexico would have no problem with abused and starving horses..they would all go to slaughter.. That lady with the pile of 25 dead horses needs to be brought up on 25 counts of animals cruelty..there is no excuse for that to happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/blpaints Barbara Leonard

    There are many politicians out there that ARE doing the right thing….the thing that over 80% of US voters want….ban horse slaughter in the US and ban shipping horses to Canada & Mexico for slaughter. Amazing that something so many people are demanding is being completely ignored by a lot of politicians who have their pockets filled with special interest money…..underhanded politicians like Blunt, Kingston, Lummis just to name a few….who are letting Farm Bureau, Cattlemen’s Assoc., AQHA money ignore what the majority want. Boycott Farm Bureau & AQHA and boycott beef…..send them a message with your pocketbook.

  • lindenfrank

    Kingston needs to be voted out. All he’s concerned with is “technology”? What about food safety and plant safety issues? He doesn’t have a clue on what’s going on there. Talk about having your head up and orifice. He’s got his there.