ASPCA Commends Senate Committee Vote to Prohibit Horse Slaughter in America

Appropriations bill would eliminate funding for horse slaughter inspections for one year and increase farm animal protections at federal agricultural facilities
July 16, 2015

WASHINGTON—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today commends the members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for approving an anti-horse slaughter amendment to its fiscal year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The amendment would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities. The Udall-Kirk Amendment, introduced by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and co-sponsored by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Chris Coons (D-DE), was passed in the full committee by a bipartisan vote and would effectively continue a ban on the gruesome horse slaughter industry on U.S. soil.

“Horse slaughter is inherently cruel, environmentally and economically devastating to local communities and unsafe for foreign consumers,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The ASPCA thanks the Senate Appropriations Committee for recognizing that it is irresponsible and wasteful to use taxpayer dollars to fund this brutal practice, and we are grateful to Senators Udall and Kirk for introducing this amendment to ensure this grisly industry does not establish itself in the U.S..”

“Horses are a symbol of the West, and they are an important part of our nation's history and our way of life today,” said Sen. Udall. “Not only is the idea of horse slaughter for human consumption abhorrent to most Americans, but USDA is already stretched too thin and doesn't have the resources to properly oversee the industry. The practice is unnecessarily cruel and has a record of gruesome pollution and terrible conditions. New Mexicans write to me regularly to say that horse slaughter has no place in the United States. I agree and was pleased to offer this bipartisan amendment on their behalf."

"Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the inspection of facilities that contribute to the brutal slaughter of our horses,” said Sen. Kirk. “Illinois banned the practice of horse slaughter in 2007, and this amendment ensures that these inhumane facilities are not opened again on U.S. soil.” 

Whether slaughter occurs in the U.S. or abroad, the methods used to slaughter horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses are difficult to stun and often remain conscious during their butchering and dismemberment. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could otherwise go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. In addition, meat from American horses is unsafe for human consumption since horses are not raised as food animals. They are routinely given medications and other substances that are toxic to humans and are expressly forbidden by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in animals intended for human consumption.

Last year, Congress renewed the ban on the use of tax dollars for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, prohibiting the horse slaughter industry from operating anywhere in the U.S. in 2015. The ban expires in September, opening the door for a possible return of horse slaughter in the U.S.. This makes the approval of the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill a vital first step toward preventing the opening of horse slaughter plants in this country.

While the Udall-Kirk Amendment prevents slaughterhouses from opening on U.S. soil, it cannot prohibit the current transport of approximately 150,000 U.S. horses from being trucked to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico each year. To address this issue, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 1214/H.R. 1942)—legislation that would end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat.

In addition to banning funds for horse slaughter inspections, the Committee also approved a provision to improve the animal welfare policy at U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) and other federally operated agricultural research centers. Following a similar measure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Committee’s report requires USDA to ensure that the agency’s research is adhering to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including the necessary inspection and reporting requirements.

To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to ensure animals have greater protection under the law, please visit