Way cleared for horse slaughter to resume in US after 5-year ban
Congress has restored funding for US inspectors to oversee horse slaughter, paving the way for slaughter and processing to resume for the first time since 2006. Animal rights groups are livid.
What to do about growing numbers of neglected and abandoned horses in the US is an ethical conundrum that Congress and President Obama quietly addressed this month via a spending bill: bring back the slaughterhouses.Skip to next paragraph
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A Department of Agriculture bill, signed into law Nov. 18, reinstates federal funding for USDA inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption, which Congress had withheld since 2006. That de facto ban on horse slaughter has now come to an end, to the outrage of the animal rights community, amid reports that US horse owners were simply shipping their animals to Mexico and Canada for slaughter and processing.
According to a pro-slaughter group called United Horsemen, meat processors are now considering opening facilities in at least a half-dozen states, including Georgia, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, and possibly Idaho.
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The issue has galvanized the animal rights community, which contends that horses are too intelligent to be food animals, and that legal processing of horse meat will endanger wild horse populations and motivate Americans to raise horses specifically for human consumption.
The other view, accepted by Congress after a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), is that more abandoned and neglected horses in the US – which has 9 million equines – are being sold and processed for meat anyway in countries that may not have the same standard of humane euthanasia that US law requires. Government statistics show that 138,000 American horses were sold and processed for meat in other countries in 2010 – a 660 percent increase from 2007, according to the GAO report.