Horse Slaughter Ban Reinstated Under New Federal Budget


When a federal budget passed in late 2011 removed the restriction on federal inspections of horse meat, the debate over horse slaughter picked up steam. Several potential new horse-slaughter operations made moves toward beginning operation. Their operators hoped to be able to profit off what they saw as an industry that would fill two needs: disposing of an overpopulation of horses and meeting the demand from horse meat consumers in foreign countries. None of those operations ever got off the ground, however, due to concerns about environmental impacts and horse welfare. But the biggest strike against commercial horse slaughter in the U.S. was the passage of a new spending bill this week, reinstating the ban.

Horse in fog


The bill passed both houses of Congress this week and is expected to receive the President’s signature by Saturday, Jan. 18.

The ban isn’t an explicit law against slaughtering horses. It’s language in the budget that prohibits the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from inspecting horse meat. In theory, a horse owner in the United States could still butcher a horse for their own personal use without violating any laws. However, without USDA inspections, horse meat cannot be sold for human consumption, rendering the business model of a horse slaughterhouse impracticable.

The relevant text of the bill reads:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to—

  1. inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act;
  2. inspect horses under section 903 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996

This is the same language that was introduced in an appropriations act in late 2005, which led to the closure of the three slaughterhouses that were still operating on American soil at the time. That section had been renewed in the budget until 2011.

The issue of horse slaughter is loud and divisive in the equestrian community. However, in the halls of Congress and the country at large, the issue is barely a blip on the radar. This reinstated ban is only one small part of an enormous bill that covers everything from spending on NASA to implementing the Affordable Care Act and appropriations for military spending. The horse meat inspection ban would not have caught the attention of most members of Congress, with some exceptions.

Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La and Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. spearheaded the effort to reinstate the ban in the 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill that was ultimately included in the budget.

“I am relieved that horse slaughter is now banned in the United States, protecting the American public from the very serious health and safety risks posed by horse meat,” said Landrieu. “Slaughtering horses is inhumane, disgusting and unnecessary, and there is no place for it in the United States. I appreciate Sen. Graham’s partnership to ban this cruel practice, keep our food supply safe and save taxpayer dollars.” 

The bill will prevent commercial horse slaughter in the U.S., but does not prevent horses from continuing to be shipped to slaughter in Canada or Mexico. To help close that gap in the slaughter pipeline, Landrieu and Graham introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act in March 2013. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-PA introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives at the same time. Horses are not raised for slaughter and are routinely given drugs and medications, including Bute, that are prohibited in meat animals because of known risks to human health. Citing that risk, the SAFE Act aims to prevent American horses from being slaughtered for human consumption.

Both bills were referred to committee. No action has been taken on them since last spring.

Further Reading
Timeline of Horse Slaughter Legislation in the U.S.


  1. That is great news….but now what about the “thousands” of horses that have no home, and will be on a one way trip to Mexico or Canada!!!!

  2. more business for Mexico and Canada sorry I think it a necessary evil but it would provide jobs in the US if it was not banned what happens when those horses go to Canada and Mexico no inspections and horses have a wonderful 1st class trip to pain and heartlessness at least in US it would be a bit more humane

  3. I have mixed feelings about this. It is a necessary evil, but slaughterhouses of any type don’t always follow ethical humane methods.

  4. Horse slaughter is totally horrible and inhumane!! I hate it! I mean seriously, a lot of the horses that get killed are in perfectly healthy condition and have nothing wrong with them!!!!! Thank you Horsechannel for the updates on this topic!

  5. Bravo to those (political advocates/VP Biden/organizations/people in general) who have gotten us this far. Wonder how Sue Wallis is feeling about now???? Yes, now those who sell to kill buyers, transport to Canada/Mexico will continue to do so. Hope the SAFE act goes threw and thoughts are given to the thousand of (sound/young) horse’s in those kill pens and auctions. Agreed, consideration and problem solving are not over yet.

  6. Now if the government, racing, farmers and ranchers, pleasure riders, etc….will come together with some sort of plan to help support the unwanted horses….that will be great.

  7. Well I can go both ways on this subject. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for horses serving a higher purpose than on someone’s plate, they have earned the right to be companions and not food…but we have to face the facts now. There are too many unwanted horses, and not enough places to take them and find them new homes. With this awful economy a lot of people can’t afford to care for horses anymore. In my opinion slaughter houses should open…but they should regulations and inspections up the yin yang! In fact I think Temple Grandin should be in charge of how the houses are run. But this is just my opinion, again don’t get me wrong I love horses to pieces and would never ever see mine in a house…but I have the means to care for mine.

  8. It makes me happy to know people out there still take time out of there lives to help and support horses who have no voice. I hope the bills put in to place in regards to transporting horses out of US will fall in to place next. Americans don’t want to slaughter horses and we have spoken and were heard!!!! Good job!!!! This might force some breeding enforcements and owners to protect and love their horses give them dignity they deserve when they are sick or old .

  9. After reading some of the comments, I do agree, no slaughter, but we do need a place or something to do with the horses when there are too many. Perhaps, it should be like other countries, no breeding unless, there is a home for the foal, or you must support the foals, you bring into this world.

  10. I agree with Jamie and Buffy. I hope the bill to prevent shipping them passes, but also another law should pass to restrict owning a horse, unless having the sufficient means to support one, is in place….It is sad what this world has come to. But we need to take action and FIX it!

  11. The last three horse slaughter plants that were operational in the U.S. were closed by their states — two in Texas and on in Illinois. They were foreign-owned, were poor corporate citizens, polluted their environments, didn’t pay their taxes or fines, and ruined their communities. Texas found an old law from the 1940’s on the books and Illinois passed a new law. California and South Carolina did that before TX and IL.

  12. Excellent article. Horse slaughter needs to be banned permanently. Horses are symbolic of, not just the American West, but of America itself. Our beautiful horses do not belong on foreign dinner plates. Let’s defeat the horse slaughterers once and for all by enacting a permanent ban this year.

  13. The ban on horse slaughter for human consumption needs desperately to be extended to include humane shipment of ALL animals in the U.S. Those on their trip to Mexico or Canada are frequently carried in double deckers and crowded so they can’t stand properly or lift their heads!!!

  14. How about this one? Between horse overpopulation and folks having a difficult caring for their horses why not the federal government offer a program for folks like myself who want to set up a rescue ranch with trainers and experts who can determine which horses are trainable for every aspect of horse riding and for those who aren’t or too old then the farm would be the place for them to live out the rest of their lives! Horseback riding for pleasure or competition can be fun even if it is only the local level. If I were lucky to have a rescue ranch I would also implement therapy programs for the handicapped, vets, summer camps for children, etc. Horses are some of God’s beautiful creatures inside and out and can be utilized in so many ways. I have seen videos of horses being slaughtered and am still sick to my stomach today. If a horse is not worth the effort of keeping alive then euthanization is appropriate! Let other countries find their horses to slaughter for meat consumption but not here!

  15. I am so thankful horse slaughter is once again banned in the U.S. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act needs to be passed. We need to stop horse slaughter once & for all in addition to stopping exportation to Canada & Mexico for the same purpose. Then, I’ll be able to sleep at night.

  16. Pass the whole law no shipping… All of you look up on fb Justice for Copiah County.. 100 horses some found died, all near death by a man who has past charges just shipped some poor horse to slaughter.. The horse community could have found homes for them and would have been whiling to take over medical bills.. But No small to crap in MS stood in the way why???? Greed and money… All sick horses today headed to Tx then Mexxio.. USA horses.. Did we forget that they fought for this country.. When ribbons for this country.. This man needs to be locked up on his second count.

  17. Pass the whole law no shipping… All of you look up on fb Justice for Copiah County.. 100 horses some found died, all near death by a man who has past charges just shipped some poor horse to slaughter.. The horse community could have found homes for them and would have been whiling to take over medical bills.. But No small to crap in MS stood in the way why???? Greed and money… All sick horses today headed to Tx then Mexxio.. USA horses.. Did we forget that they fought for this country.. When ribbons for this country.. This man needs to be locked up on his second count.

  18. Why would you not want horse slaughter to be reinstated in the US. If it is here then we can control the transportation and how they are treated up until being killed. There will be rules and regulations that can be put into place and they can have check ups to make sure everything is being done humanely. Not only that it would open up jobs in the US. I am not a huge fan of any of this, but at least if it is in the US we can regulate it and make it humane. Canada and Mexico are far from that. Just because it is not taking place here does not mean it is not happening. Wouldn’t you rather be able to control it at least?

  19. I am sick of people killing Horses because they don’t have another use for them. Every horse born in the USA should have a $200 license fee that goes to the protection of Horses being abused and to legit rescues to help Horses live out there lives when not wanted or injured and can’t be used. Stop the back yard breeding. These horses have built the United Stated on the sweat of their backs. They carried, pulled, ran, died for this country and you are saying all we can do for the unwanted ones is feed them to another country. Which in by itself is a form of genocide on them these horse’s meat is pure poison to there meat supply. What are these ppl doing in the government.?? Don’t they know the horror that this is causing. Don’t they know these beautiful animals that are so kind are being stabbed to death in Mexico. That evil men in the USA going around buying up family Horses with the promise of a forever home. Only to take these beloved horse’s to their so- called (partner) who in turn runs them to the kill buyer Auction where there beloved pet is worth no more than their pound of flesh. After they have been paid to rehomes these horses to there new forever homes. Then paid again when they sell the horse to the kill buyers. We isn’t that just a two edged blade. They get paid twice for the same job that is one of the most horrific jobs known to anyone that loves animals and feel they should be treated with respect. I beg them to go on utube and watch some horse slaughter videos. Not one and not two but ten at random. See if you then feel this is the right way for a Horses life to end. I am a horse lover, I am a American Cowgirl. We love our horses as much as you love your pets, wheather it’s your dogs or cats or bird. Don’t mess with my horses. They are my pets. They are a companion animal in our world we live in now. If someone wanted to kill your dog what would you do. I hope you would fight for their life just as I am fighting for my pets life. My horse is not your food. Our horses are not anyone’s food. Leave our horses alone and start saving our history and the horses that have helped us advance in our history faster than any other animal alive today. No normal person wants to see Horses slaughtered, yet you are still letting them be shipping in horrible conditions and cut up while they are still alive or even giving birth to a foal. I suggest if you don’t know this is going on that you get your head out of the sand and take notice. Because believe me, we are. Every state and every district. Stop Slaughtering Horses by shipping them to there death. My horse is not safe food and she or he just happens to be my best friend. Just say “NO” to any part of horse slaughter. It is not honorable, it’s disgusting, and it isn’t safe for man nor horse. Please end our part now. We can end this in this country. We can change a world and make it safer for people and safer for my horses past and present.


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