July 16, 2015

U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Prohibit Horse Slaughter on American Soil

During today’s markup of the 2016 agriculture spending bill, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the anti-horse slaughter amendment offered by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chris Coons (D-DE). The Udall-Kirk Amendment would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities; without such inspections, the horse slaughter industry cannot resume in the United States.

“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 Senator 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,” added Senator 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.” 

Horse slaughter is inherently cruel, environmentally and economically devastating to local communities and unsafe for foreign consumers. The ASPCA thanks the Senate Appropriations Committee for recognizing that it is irresponsible and wasteful to use taxpayer dollars to fund this brutal practice. The House Appropriations Committee vote, one week ago, was a tie and did not allow the language to be inserted into the larger legislation, so having the Senate take this action is particularly encouraging.

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.

The 2016 appropriations bill now moves to the Senate Floor. The ASPCA will work steadfastly to make sure this language is retained in the final version of the bill passed by Congress.