AN amendment introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D., Va.) to effectively ban the practice of horse slaughter for meat for human consumption passed the full House Appropriations Committee by a voice vote.
The provision will be included in the fiscal 2014 Agricultural Appropriations Bill when it goes to the full House.
Moran's amendment would reinstate the five-year ban on horse slaughter that was in place from 2006 to 2011.
Specifically, the provision would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from receiving any funds to conduct meat inspections at horse slaughter facilities. Without inspections, the practice of horse slaughter for meat for human consumption is effectively banned.
During debate, Moran, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, highlighted the proposed $31 million reduction in USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service funding, calling it irresponsible to expand the agency's scope of inspections while reducing its resources.
Moran also noted that U.S. horse meat often contains harmful chemicals, such as the anti-inflammatory pain killer phenylbutazone that the Food & Drug Administration requires to be labeled "Not for use in animals that will be eaten by humans."
A poll commissioned by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that 80% of Americans, including the vast majority of horse owners (71%), are opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption.
Recent surveys have found that 67% of Oklahoma residents and 70% of New Mexico residents — two states where new slaughter plants could open — do not support horse slaughter in their state, a statement from Moran said.
Moran introduced a similar amendment to the 2012 Agricultural Appropriations Bill, and although it was adopted in the full House, the language was removed during conference committee in November.
The 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill also included a similar amendment, but Congress failed to arrive at a compromise for the 2013 funding bills, instead operating from the 2012 bill that did not contain the ban.
Moran's amendment does not prohibit the transport of U.S. horses for slaughter across the border to Canada or Mexico, which has increased significantly since the ban went into effect.
To address this issue, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Reps. Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.) and Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports Act in each chamber that would end the current export of U.S. horses for slaughter abroad.