06/08/2005 12:00AM

Horse slaughter ban advances


An amendment to a federal appropriations bill that seeks to ban horse slaughter in the United States was accepted by the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Sweeney, a Democrat from New York, would strip federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for inspection of horses destined for slaughter.

According to supporters of the provision, the amendment would effectively end slaughter of horses in the United States for food purposes by prohibiting slaughterhouses from selling the meat in overseas markets. U.S. rules require all meat that is sold from the United States to be inspected by federal officials.

The amendment would also take funding away from the inspection of horses at U.S. borders in an effort to prevent U.S. horses from being sent to either Canada or Mexico for slaughter, according to a spokeswoman for Sweeney, Melissa Carlson.

The Department of Agriculture has estimated that approximately 65,000 horses were slaughtered last year for horse meat in the three commercial horse slaughterhouses operating in the United States. It is not known how many of those horses were Thoroughbreds. Another 35,000 were shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, according to the amendment's supporters.