04/11/2013 4:34PM

Federal proposed budget language prohibits horse slaughter


The United States Department of Agriculture has included language in its 2014 budget proposal that would prevent horse slaughterhouses from reopening legally in the United States, according to a New York Times report.

USDA secretary Tom Vilsack’s current budget submission, which will be considered by Congress as part of a federal budget bill, specifically denies funding salaries or personnel to inspect horses at slaughter facilities.

In 2005, federal lawmakers removed funding for inspections at horse slaughterhouses; without those inspections, the meat could not be exported to international markets. That contributed to the closure of domestic legal horse slaughter plants in the United States by 2007, although U.S. horses continue to be exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. In 2011, Congress voted to restore funding for federal meat inspectors at equine slaughter facilities starting during fiscal year 2012.

No equine slaughterhouses are currently operating in the U.S., but Valley Meat Co. and several other companies have applied for permits or are considering opening such facilities. Late last year, the Valley Meat Co. of New Mexico sued the United States Department of Agriculture and agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack in federal court to challenge what Valley Meat termed “recent failure to provide inspections for horses for human consumption ... in contravention of an unequivocal Congressional command.”

That case alleges that the USDA has delayed in acting on Valley Meat’s equine slaughter application, costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. The suit is ongoing. An attorney for Valley Meat told the New York Times: “I know of a few members of Congress who are not likely to let it remain in the budget. All this means is more debate and more hardship for my clients, because they’ve made these investments to modify their plant already.”

The latest defunding move comes at a time when European food retailers are dealing with a widespread scandal involving horsemeat and the drug residues in it. Numerous countries’ authorities have found horsemeat in products labeled as beef or other meat, and recently Britain’s Asda supermarket chain recalled some of its corned beef after testing revealed traces of phenylbutazone, or bute. The drug, a painkiller, is often prescribed to horses for a variety of ailments, and the European Union has banned it in slaughter animals.

On March 25, U. S. Representative Jim Moran of Virginia sent a letter to Vilsack urging the secretary to support defunding language for equine slaughter inspections under the USDA’s 2014 budget submission to Congress.

“At a time when USDA’s budget is diminished by budget cuts and sequestration, it would be irresponsible to divert millions of dollars a year to inspect horsemeat consumed entirely by foreign consumers,” Moran wrote. “Every dollar spent at horse slaughter plants would divert necessary resources away from beef, chicken, and pork inspections—meat actually consumed by Americans.”

Valerie Lang Waldin More than 1 year ago
Slaughter is an excuse for lack of responsible ownership. Horses made America what it is (was) and this is how we reward them? There is no place for horse slaughter in a civilized society.
Karin Hauenstein More than 1 year ago
Not only the banned substances and medications given all domestic U.S. horses but this issue is thick with reasons why horse slaughter should be outlawed in the U.S. Specifically: the pressure-release pneumatic captive-bolt was designed for use on a much different species, the bovine. Equines are extremely difficult to target with this apparatus, especially wild, untrained or under-trained horses. Their necks cannot be restrained at all and this sets the stage for the 40-100% fail rate experienced when using this device in commercial horse slaughter. The reason why commercial horse slaughter is so brutal, inhumane and strongly opposed by so many people is because of the fact that horses are flight animals who react very badly to the commercial environment and head trauma. It is a gross violation of the Humane Slaughter Act for an animal to witness their own vivisection. Imagine what actually happens in commercial horse slaughter a majority of the time and you will see too why this act should be outlawed completely and permanently.
Terri Russell More than 1 year ago
It's high time the truth came out! I'm glad that some members in Congress have some sense. I hope they stop horse slaughter on a federal level as well a transport to slaughter. Why should 80% of America have to support a predatory industry and especially when we are appalled by the industry as a whole. Nit just that, house slaughter had put the wild horses of America in danger. I'm glad that they have made this decision!
Horse Protector More than 1 year ago
It is beyond insane that we are still debating this issue in the U.S. The facts cannot be ignored – horse slaughter is brutally inhumane; U.S. horse meat cannot be deemed safe for human consumption; and the presence of plants in the U.S. causes catastrophic environmental and social impacts in the small communities where they operate. This industry is no more necessary than dogfighting. Contrary to the carefully crafted PR of the horse meat lobby, horse slaughter has never shown to control equine neglect. In fact, what the availability of this cull market HAS done is provide incentive for reckless breeding and irresponsible ownership, both of which adversely affect equine welfare. And its very existence increases hoarding from those concerned about horses falling prey to the slaughter pipeline. It’s high time we stopped the cabal of corrupt legislators beholden to Agribusiness who, since the landslide passage of a slaughter ban in the House in 2006, have blocked legislation to ban this predatory business here, and for export. 80% of Americans are opposed to this! We need to stop allowing well-funded special interests to rule Congress and subvert the will of the majority.
Glow Amy More than 1 year ago
What part of " THE SLAUGHTER OPTION NEVER ENDED" do pro slaughter people not get? (Actually, what they PRETEND not to get. ) What a crock. The pro slaughter people just continue to parrot their proven lie that the closing of the U.S. plants is what caused any increase in 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. We are so sick of their favorite propaganda claiming that slaughter is needed for old, sick, lame horses. When USDA statistics PROVE that over 92% of horses slaughtered are young, sound, healthy horses in good condition. That pretty much kills your old,lame. starving and abandoned horse excuse. Slaughter doesn't want old sick horses. It wants young horses in prime condition to compeat in the meat market buisness. But pro slaughter refuses to respond to or answer these very problematic facts which prove they are blatantly lying. Does none of our pro horse slaughter elected representatives have the integrity and ethics to just be honest and say there for horse slaughter because its a profitable business? And they believe there is no difference between eating horse and any any livestock. They just keep repeating all there deceptive propaganda in there deplorable attempt to disguise themselves as being humane horse welfare advocates in order to sell the purely profit driven horse slaughter industry to the American people. They act as if we are stupid enough to believe that just because they say so, it makes it true. Gloria Eighmey
Glow Amy More than 1 year ago
Pro slaughter continuely claims slaughter is nessassary because of too many unwanted horses. What causes unwanted horses? Obviously too many horses are being bred. Pro slaughter 's solution? Having a slaughter buisness that BUY's 150,000 horses a year.You know, Pay's people money to sell them there horse. Yah ,that sure is a good incentive to stop people from breeding too many horses allright. That sure will solve the problem. What? You mean you've been doing this for 30 years and you still have too many horses being bred.Hmm, just cant figure that one out. For over 30 years the US has continuously sold on average over 100,000 horses a year for slaughter. Yet pro slaughter has continuously claimed there is still a glut of "unwanted" horses for which horse slaughter is the solution. Horse slaughter hasn't worked. If it had worked, in a few years time there would not still have been any excess horses available to sell to the slaughter market. Certainly not a sustainable 100,000 plus horses a year. Thirty years is enough time to prove slaughter is NOT the answer. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Isn't it time we end this predatory buisness once and for all and try something new? As long as there is horse slaughter, it GARRENTEIS an endless cycle of over breeding, creating the excess horses that are needed to supply the profitable horse slaughter business. Its not about helping unwanted horses. Its just about the money. Gloria Eighmey
Aleta Pahl More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with you.... it is a revolving door of death with breeders and killbuyers enabling each other in thier distorted morality of what is "good" for the horse industry. How about what is good for each and every living horse, whether race horse or mustang, or pasture pet, they are not throw aways. And when someone wants to get that last dime on a horse by selling at auction to slaughter, how can that be something this country sees as anything but reprehensible. Slaughter is not what Americans want for our horses and breeders will have to be responsible breeders or they cannot be respected as anything but exploiters of horses for profit only and not concerned for the health of the breeds or the individual horses.