Guest blog post from Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.
In a heartbreaking development, we learned this week that Congress is abandoning an important piece of existing legislation that relates to horse slaughter. Since 2005, Congress has prevented the commercial slaughter of horses in the United States by blocking the use of federal money for horse meat inspections. This language was routinely included in the annual Agriculture Appropriations bill after the original amendment to defund horse slaughter inspections enjoyed bipartisan support and passed by large margins (269-158 in the House and 69-28 in the Senate). The 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which is currently being considered by Congress, does not include this provision.
This is distressing on two counts. First, at a time when Congress is cutting funds for education and other vital programs, it is outrageous that taxpayers would be asked to add $5 million to the budget for something as senseless as horse slaughter. Second, since Americans don’t eat horse meat, this action will only benefit foreign markets in Asia and Europe, where horse meat is considered a delicacy.
The members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade have worked hard contacting their legislators on this issue with calls, emails and letters of support. Congress is clearly ignoring the will of the American people if it allows our tax dollars to be used for this gratuitous cruelty.
Though this setback is unfortunate, it signals the need for us to redouble our efforts for a complete ban on horse slaughter. While the funding amendment protected America from the horrors of horse slaughter plants operating on our home soil (where, despite past USDA oversight, gross abuse and rampant cruelty were routine), it didn’t necessarily prevent horse slaughter—in fact, thousands of horses continue to be sent over our borders for this purpose every year. However, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011 would not only ban horse slaughter in this country, but also ban the export of our horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. I encourage everyone who cares about horses to contact their federal legislators to press for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. You can do so by visiting www.aspca.org/AHSPA.
Those in favor of horse slaughter are celebrating Congress’s decision, and there’s already talk of opening horse slaughterhouses in the Northwest. Given the controversial nature of this issue, it may be tough to find investors unwise enough to take such a leap knowing that we’ll be working to defund horse slaughter again immediately.
It is now more important than ever that Congress hears from horse advocates who know how essential it is that we protect these majestic animals. To learn more about the issue of horse slaughter, please visit ASPCA.org.