It’s not what the 2012 agriculture appropriations
bill does say that has animal welfare advocates concerned. But what it doesn’t say
is stirring controversy.
to inspect horse meat, effectively ending the horse slaughter industry in the
United States. The new appropriations bill, which passed the House of
Representatives on Nov. 17, no longer includes that restriction.
The horse industry is divided on the issue of horse
slaughter. Proponents argue that domestic slaughter plants are more humane than
foreign ones, and horses don’t have to travel as far to get to them. They also
suggest that the horse market needs kill buyers to keep prices up. Opponents
say that commercial slaughter is inherently inhumane for horses, that horses
are not raised as meat animals and are therefore contaminated with chemicals
that are harmful to humans, and that a domestic slaughter industry increases
the incidence of horse theft.
According to surveys, approximately 70% of
Americans are opposed to the practice of slaughtering horses for meat. There is no viable market for horse meat in the United States, but when the slaughter industry existed prior to 2006, the meat was exported to parts of Asia and Europe where it is considered a delicacy.
Several states had looked into working around the
former ban to open slaughter houses, including Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska,
“For the first time since 2005, the de-facto ban
on horse processing has been taken off the table,” Congressman Adrian Smith
(R-NE). “While we have a long way to go, responsible processing represents a
vital first step in reversing the unintended consequences to blame for the
dismal state of neglected horses and their frustrated caregivers across our
country. Reinstating a humane, accountable, and legal management tool is good
for horses, good for owners, and is good policy.”
Agriculture appropriations was only one part of the
Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science & Transportation-HUD Appropriations
Bill, which also included a necessary resolution to continue to fund the federal
government through December 16. It could not be amended after being approved in committee. Because of this, some members of congress who
have historically opposed horse slaughter voted the appropriations through.
government and paying our bills are the primary responsibilities of Congress,”
said Jim Moran (D-VA). “This legislation, while imperfect, is responsible in
that it keeps the government up and running while the remaining appropriations
bills await final consideration.
I ultimately supported this appropriations bill, I have serious objections with
the conference committee’s decision to remove House-approved language
preventing horse slaughter, language that had been in the bill for the past
five years and I authored this year.
“I am committed to doing
everything in my power to prevent the resumption of horse slaughter and will
force Congress to debate this important policy in an open, democratic manner at
every opportunity. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that Congress pass
the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 2966) to permanently prohibit
the slaughter of American horses.”
To contact your representatives regarding the
American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, click here.
To contact your senator, click here.