Senate Committee Passes 2015 Slaughter Ban Amendment
By Pat Raia, Horse.com
An amendment that would prevent the USDA from using a portion of its 2015 budget to fund horsemeat inspections has passed the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.
Before 2005, USDA personnel carried out food safety inspections at U.S. horse processing plants. In 2006, Congress stripped the USDA of funding for inspections at facilities that process horsemeat for human consumption. Horses were thereafter shipped to Mexico and Canada for processing.
Congressional funding bills contained amendments denying the USDA horse processing plant inspection revenue until 2011, when Congress passed an appropriations bill that did not contain language specifically forbidding the agency from using federal dollars to fund horse processing plant inspections through fiscal year 2012. Thereafter, horse processing plants were proposed in several states, including New Mexico, but never opened.
A provision in the consolidated appropriations bill for fiscal 2014 forbade the USDA from using federal funds to pay personnel for inspections at U.S. horse processing plants. Additionally, President Barack Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2015 requests that Congress forbid the USDA from using funds for horse processing plant inspections.
On May 22, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 18-12 to amend the agriculture appropriations bill and prevent the USDA from funding inspections at domestic horse processing plants through fiscal 2015.
Co-sponsor Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the Senate amendment represents a bipartisan effort to oppose U.S. horse processing.
“(The) bipartisan vote to defund domestic horse slaughter in the FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill shows this is not a Democratic or a Republican issue—it is an issue that 80% of the American people agree on,” she said.
Blair Dunn, attorney for a New Mexico-based firm that sought but did not receive USDA horse processing inspections, said the amendment represents failed economic and equine welfare policies.
“(It’s) a disappointing showing of an inability to recognize failed policy by those Senators that voted to export our horse welfare responsibility, our jobs, and a positive economic driver to Mexico,” he said.
Rebecca Goldrick, spokeswoman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said a similar amendment is expected in the House of Representatives.