Horse Slaughter Bill Back in Play in Congress

Legislation that would ban the transport of horses for the purposes of slaughter has been re-introduced in the United States Senate.

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011 is similar to legislation that failed to pass Congress twice before. The remaining three U.S. slaughterhouses closed by 2007, but sponsors of the latest measure claim horses are being exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, one of the sponsors of the 2011 bill, said in an address to Senate upon introduction of the bill efforts to pass the legislation have been “thwarted” in conference committees, not on the floor of Congress.

Landrieu also said 95% of horses in the U.S. die naturally and humanely because most owners do what’s right, “but there’s always a small group that proceeds down a path that is totally inappropriate.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced the bill with Landrieu.

The bill has the support of the Humane Society of the United States, which in a release said previous actions in Congress “have demonstrated a strong, bipartisan desire to prohibit the killing of horses for human consumption.”

Republican Rep. Sue Wallis of Wyoming, in a statement sent out by the United Organizations of the Horse, said Congress should wait for a soon-to-be released U.S. Government Accountability Office report on horse slaughter before acting on the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011. Wallis said the Senate-commissioned study looked at the effect of the closure of slaughterhouses on the welfare of horses themselves, as well as the effect on farm economy.

A primary concern of many in the horse industry is that few alternatives are being offered to take care of horses that aren’t sent to slaughter.

“Congressional members who support these destructive bans and prohibitions on the horse industry are stripping a cog in the agricultural wheel in favor of an animal rights industry that does not generate any revenue or jobs,” Wallis said in a statement. “That approach supports only non-contributory, emotionally-charged groups and eliminates a multibillion-dollar, tax-paying and jobs-generating industry.”

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