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Omnibus Spending Bill Defunds USDA Horse Slaughter Inspection

Language in the FY 2014 omnibus spending bill now headed for President Obama’s desk re-establishes law that existed from 2005 to 2011 prohibiting USDA from spending any money to inspect horse-slaughter facilities.

On Thursday, the Senate joined the House in approving the $1.1-trillion spending bill that the Humane Society of the United States said halts any resumption of horse slaughter in the United States.

Obama is expected to sign the measure, which was the product of an historic agreement between U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). The agreement tempered budget cuts imposed by the sequester and avoided another federal government shutdown this month.

The bipartisan agreement cleared the Senate on a 72-26 vote after gaining House approval a day earlier by a vote of 359-67. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced an amendment to remove the prohibition on equine inspections, but he was unsuccessful. The Oklahoma senator said he will pursue a stand-alone bill to get around the new ban.

The last USDA-inspected horse slaughter occurred in the U.S. in 2007. The restriction on USDA spending was lifted in 2011 under a deal between Congress and the president.

After it left the equine business, USDA was slow in approving “grants of inspection,” eventually approving three of the initial five applicants. One of them sued the agency to speed its decision-making, but as soon as the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) agreed to inspect horse slaughter facilities, animal-welfare groups marshaled by HSUS sued USDA.

USDA won at the district court level, and in mid-December, the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Humane Society’s request for a court injunction, saying it doubted that the group’s court challenge would succeed.

Since then, the possible start-up of horse slaughter in New Mexico and Missouri has been held up by state regulatory and court challenges. However, those challenges will become academic with the president’s signature on the spending bill.

Since 2007, an estimated 140,000 horses from the U.S. are exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter each year. HSUS estimates that inspections would have cost USDA about $5 million a year.

© Food Safety News
  • dk

    Thank you Congress for de-funding horse slaughter USDA inspections. Keep up the good work!

  • Rob Stuart, Ph.D.

    It is amazingly bad that this has been done. What are we going to do with all the unwanted horses in this country. We should handle unwanted horses like other unwanted animals. Can you imagine what would happen in city facilities across this country if we did not euthanize unwanted dogs and cats. This is another example that the “animal welfare” crowd has control of our Congress. What is amazing to me is that it is OK to slaughter a horse in this country. The only restriction is that the meat can not be used for human consumption. Quoting our former distinguished Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “What difference does it make?” The horse is dead. What does it matter who consumes the carcass. It appears to be OK for a zoo animal to consume the carcass, but not OK for a human to consume it. Furthermore, our Bureau of Land Management is spending more than $40 million to feed unwanted horses that have been rounded up from federal lands. Now they are in cattle pens for the rest of their lives. My recommendation is to harvest these animals and if Europeans want to purchase the meat, then why should our government stop the practice?

    • 14151617

      If all the money that has been spent on trying to open slaughter houses in the U S had been donated to horse welfare for gelding clinics,mare sterlization,making stronger lwas against animal abuse,educating for less breeding and euthaniza clinics for injued,sick,and infirmed horses it would have been money much better spent.
      Most people fighting this are just plain people.Not belonging to any organizations per se.
      But they don’t have the funds to hire attornies individually so they select an organization that has the means to help them speak for what they think is right.
      It does mean that 80% of the citizenship are animal rights activist only that they do not want horse slaughter in the United States.
      HARVEST is such a disgusting word to use for killing.
      It is the politically correct word in these days and times so it is softer to the ear of the public I guess.
      Humans are the reason for unwanted anything.Or society today is a throw away society.
      I want to have it right now and when I am tired of it or it gets old and I don’t want it any more I’ll just throw it away.
      Animals we think we want,shoes,clothes,children etc.
      I guess when the earth is bare,the air is unbreathable,the oceans,waterways and streams empty and polluted.All the wild things are destroyed,the few humans that might be left will wonder why did they let this happen?

    • abetterworld

      @Rob Stuart -Your comments are remarkably and patently ridiculous and spoken out of no respect for horses or horse lovers whatsoever. First, the BLM shouldn’t be rounding up horses at all – the BLM is a front for the cattlemen’s association, who begrudge one square inch of public land for wild horses to graze – yet the ranchers are using public land for their cattle, which hardly seems fair to taxpayers. This is a political issue, pure and simple. The horses who are starving and freezing in pens should never have been rounded up by helicopters and taken from their environment. Yes, Europeans do eat horse meat, but at least they keep Monsanto and the other evil groups soaking our (the USA’s) food with toxic pesticides that cause cancer, etc, out of their countries. You should do more research before you spout off about subjects about which you know little. You must be best friends with Oklahoma’s Inhofe.

    • tallen2007

      If you want to eat meat that has banned drugs in it that is your business but to feed that meat to other unsuspecting people is immoral and unethical. What we need is a stiff tax on breeders which would cut down on the number of unwanted horses. Horse owners who care about their horses will have them humanely euthanized. The contaminated meat from rendering these drugged animals, which is a major part of the pet food supply chain, is probably at least partially responsible for the climbing rates of disease in our pets. I agree that the wild horse issue is a difficult situation and needs a panel of all groups involved to make some tough choices.

  • Oginikwe

    I hope that when the first recall happens that Mr. Marler puts them all in bankruptcy.

  • sam

    As a horse lover and horse owner I detest the thought of horse slaughter, but I know it is a reality, and by moving that activity out of the US and into Canada and Mexico where standards can’t be monitored, we have even less ability to assure horses are handled in as humane a way as possible.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    Correction, the language was removed from the agricultural appropriation bill when the language was in the House bill but not the Senate bill. Any bill discrepancies had to be adjusted in committee. Rather than add the language in for the final bill, Senator Blunt, and Reps. Aderhold and Farr removed the language.

    When the bill passed in the House and the Senate, the President signed it into law.

    There was no “deal”. The President certainly wasn’t not going to sign the entire appropriation bill just because of this language not being present.

    How can I convince horse welfare folks that they need to better understand how government works when an established editor for an online publication misrepresents the event?

    • tallen2007

      Keep explaining. Thanks!

    • Janice Wilson

      You have your sources, we have ours. And you are not speaking with people who don’t know the laws or how the system works. We spend half our time, money and energy lobbying in our state and federal capitals and dealing with the legislative process, the legislators, and all that goes into theses bills from conception to the end. As you know, this can take years. Thank you for working for the things you believe. They do not have to match mine in order for me to respect your rights and appreciate your efforts. Please give us the same respect. Thank you. Carry on.

  • Dr. Rob Stuart

    Please name one of those drugs.

    • Morgan Griffith

      phenylbutazone “bute” is one drug that is basically horse aspirin. a very commonly used drug. Most wormers and that is just a start. You can go to the FDA site and see a full list.

  • BB

    OK………….., and all of the “FDA-approved” drugs for humans aren’t dangerous to consume???? HAHAHA….give me a break.