American horses have quite literally dodged a bullet as a meat processing plant in Iowa has officially withdrawn plans to start slaughtering horses for human consumption.
While the struggle to prevent U.S. horse slaughter is far from over, this announcement is another victory resulting from a string of efforts by the ASPCA and other national and local organizations to ensure that the American people’s voices are heard: Opposition to horse slaughter for human consumption is broad and deep across every demographic.
A plant in New Mexico has also received a grant of inspection to slaughter horses, but it is on hold pending litigation and faces strong opposition from the state’s attorney general and governor. This means we have time to stop horse slaughter before it starts, and we implore you to join us today by urging your members of Congress to cosponsor the SAFE (Safeguard American Food Exports) Act.
Championed by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), to the SAFE Act would prevent the slaughter of American horses as well as their transport to other countries for this purpose.
We have been simultaneously pressing for protections in the FY2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill to prevent tax dollars from being spent on inspections for these plants—no inspections would amount to a de facto ban on horse slaughter on U.S. soil. We must now ensure this language remains in the final version, which Congress is likely to take up next month when it returns from recess.
We know that slaughter is no answer to the problem of horse neglect—that is a hollow argument used by the industry to cover up its greed and abuses (and we are working with a vast network of horse rescues all over the country to provide at-risk horses with safe havens from commercial slaughter). Every step we take together brings us closer to a real and lasting victory for horses! Please take action now!
We recently told you that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved applications for horse slaughter inspections at Valley Meat Company LLC in Roswell, New Mexico, and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa. The USDA is likely to also grant horse slaughter inspections at Rains Natural Meats plant in Gallatin, Missouri, in the coming days.
This week we learned that no horse slaughter plants will be granted inspections until at least July 29 as a result of a lawsuit filed against the USDA by several animal welfare organizations.
This lawsuit buys critical time for our horses. The Agriculture Appropriations bills, which contain language that would prevent horse slaughter in the U.S., are expected to pass in the coming months. We are seeing building momentum for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would prevent the slaughter of horses in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad and protect consumers from unknowingly ingesting toxic horse meat.
What can you expect to see at your local Fourth of July parade? Decorative floats, marching bands, lots of red, white and blue—and horses! Horses are an American symbol and have played an important role in our country’s history. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. But sadly, even parade horses are just one bad sale away from a brutal fate in a slaughterhouse.
Horse slaughter is inherently cruel, and anyone who knows or sees the commercial slaughter process understands it absolutely cannot be called euthanasia. The vast majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. Moreover, horse slaughter plants destroy natural resources, devastate local economies, and horsemeat is unsafe to eat due to routine equine medications that are toxic to humans.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently approved applications for a horse slaughter facility in New Mexico and Iowa, and approval of an application in Missouri is on the way. Congress must act IMMEDIATELY to stop these plants from needlessly slaughtering American horses for commercial interests. While our government is struggling to fund vital programs, taxpayer dollars should not be wasted on a predatory industry.
The Safeguard American Foods Export (SAFE) Act (S. 541/ H.R. 1094) is a federal bill that will prevent horse slaughter operations in the U.S. and end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad. Please send a polite email to your federal legislators in Congress and urge them to support the SAFE Act and ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.
Thank you for being a voice for American horses this Independence Day!
In the wake of important victories for horses, we are dismayed to learn that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today approved an application for horse slaughter inspections at Valley Meat Company LLC in Roswell, New Mexico, and will issue horse slaughter permits in Missouri and Iowa on Monday.
The inherent cruelty of horse slaughter is reason enough for our government to prevent this practice, but the dangers to consumers, the clear public opposition to slaughtering our horses for foreign diners, and the harm we know this will cause our communities make this a reckless and hazardous move by the USDA.
These plants are now slated to be the first facilities in the U.S. to slaughter our horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed after states took action to shutter them and Congress voted to eliminate funding for horse meat inspections. The two Agriculture Appropriations bills that will eliminate the possibility of horse slaughter in the U.S. are expected to be voted on by the full House and Senate in July—today’s announcement is a serious federal bureaucratic misstep that defies common sense.
“Moving ahead with the costly proposition of funding horse slaughter inspections is wasteful, cruel and reckless,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Recent polling shows that 70% of New Mexicans, 70% of Missourians and 71% of Iowans, along with the overwhelming majority of Americans, oppose the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption. Given the recent outrage over horse meat entering the food supply in Europe, this decision is irresponsible. The USDA is knowingly diverting tax dollars from programs that protect American consumers to programs that jeopardize them. It is time for Congress to take action to prevent American horses from suffering this terrible fate and stop horse slaughter in the U.S. once and for all.”
Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations
Horses have been central to the ASPCA’s work since our founding in 1866. Trying to help horses through congressional action often demands patience and persistence, and the interests of animals are not always at the forefront in Congress—but tomorrow is the exception.
We worked closely with the House Appropriations Committee to secure a vote to accept the Moran-Young Amendment to prevent horse slaughterhouses from opening on U.S. soil. Tomorrow, it is the Senate’s turn, and our stalwart leaders, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), are offering the Landrieu-Graham Amendment to do exactly the same thing in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill—to prevent the flow of our tax dollars to the horse slaughter industry. You can help by checking to see if your U.S. senator sits on the Appropriations Committee and then taking action.
Prohibiting federal funding for horse slaughter facility inspections is a critical step toward ending the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. If the Landrieu-Graham Amendment is adopted by the Senate Appropriations committee, planned horse slaughterhouses will be prevented from opening on U.S. soil, and we will have that much more support and momentum for passing a full ban on horse slaughter and transport to slaughter.
Simultaneously, our leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives worked diligently this week to offer an amendment to the House Farm Bill that would ban horse slaughter for human consumption altogether by prohibiting the slaughter of horses here as well as transport for slaughter to other countries. Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee rejected that amendment late last night—but we will persevere and direct our full energy to the Landrieu-Graham Amendment in the Senate. And when we are able to bring the issue of a full horse slaughter ban to the House floor, we will be ready.