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Categories: Horse News

U.S. Government to Study Impact of Horse Slaughter Industry Closure

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) will soon be studying the impact of the closure of American equine slaughterhouses. The last American slaughterhouse was closed in 2007.



On October 21, the president signed the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R.2997). The primary purpose of the bill is to designate funding for The United States Department of Agriculture and related organizations. The bill, now Public Law 111-80, contains some important points related to horse welfare.

Section 744 continues the prohibition of USDA spending on inspection of horsemeat in the United States. Though there are currently no equine slaughterhouses in the country, this provision would apply if a company moves forward on constructing a new slaughter plant. When American slaughterhouses were operational, the primary market for the product was in parts of Europe and Japan, where horsemeat is an ingredient in some local specialty dishes.

Earlier this year, a Montana law sponsored by Republican Representative Ed Butcher cleared the way for the construction of an equine slaughterhouse in that state. He is currently seeking Chinese investors to operate the facility, though it is uncertain how the meat will be sold legally without USDA inspection as that inspection is required of all meat produced in the United States, regardless of where it is sold.

Furthermore, new European Union laws require any horse sold for human consumption to be identified as “intended for slaughter.” This means they must not have been treated with any chemicals, such as dewormers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or undergo a 180-day quarantine. The new EU law is expected to impact the market for American horses as meat animals.

One of the primary arguments of the pro-slaughter movement is that the closure of horse slaughter plants in the United States has directly contributed toward increased neglect and abandonment of American horses. A senate report accompanying H.R. 2997 directs the GAO to conduct a study on the current state of horse welfare in America as it relates to the end of the domestic slaughter industry. The study will specifically examine how horse welfare, horse rescue organizations, farm industry income, and overall horse sales, imports and exports have been affected by the slaughterhouse closures.

Results of this study are expected by March of 2010.

Is horse slaughter really a humane option? Read more >>

View Comments

  • I think they should ban slaughter. There has to be a better way to deal with horses no one wants anymore or are off the race track.

  • Glad to see that scientific and economic factors are being considered instead of emotional reactions to this issue.
    Dr. Rebecca Gimenez

  • Federal inspection is not mandatory for all meat, regardless of where it is sold. If the product will not cross state lines, state inspection is sufficient. You are correct, however, that without federal inspection, the meat could not be exported. In addition, while it is illegal to produce horse meat for human consumption commercially in the US, it can be done privately.

  • The closure of horse slaughter plants in the U.S. did not contribute toward an increase of neglect & abused horses! The fact that the owner of the horse could no longer afford to keep the horse because he/she can barely make ends meet for their family has so much more to do with it! Abuse & neglect cases are recieving even more attention (publicly) now that the slaughter plants are closed (& they should stay that way). If people were to do more research & tests on horse slaughter, they would find out that slaughter is NOT a humane option! Do your "homework" before you make a decision on whether or not you should support slaughter. I am definately anti-slaughter.

  • 1. Factory breeding farms, such as those involved with race horses, need to be brought into some accountability. This involves regulating the amount of breedings per horse, profits be damned.
    2. The racing industry needs to stop racing horses under 3yo. With computers and the internet everywhere, horses don't need to have a singular birthday.
    Until these issues are addressed this will never be satisfactorily resolved. But its all about the money, isn't it?

  • I think that the horse industry is terrible. I am a farmer and i drive along country roads everyday. If you get out and drive around and you will see numerous horses in poorly condition they are suffering. I am personally for the slaughter houses to reopen. it will not make only the animal not suffer,but they will be worth something. think about the horse suffering by starving to death.

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