Anne M. Eberhardt

Ban on Horse-Meat Inspection Funds Reversed

It is believed the federal action could restore horse slaughter plants in the U.S.

A change in legislative language could lead to the re-opening of horse slaughter plants in the United States.

Five years ago federal funding for the inspection of horse meat for human consumption was eliminated. The United States Department of Agriculture oversaw the inspections.

However, on Nov. 18 President Obama signed into law a broader bill that reverses the ban on the funding. According to published reports, such action could end the “ban” on horse slaughter brought about by the lack of funding.

In recent years the three remaining slaughter plants shut their doors. Federal legislation actually banning the process of horse slaughter has failed to pass Congress.

The legislation is tied to a federal General Accountability Office report from earlier this year. The report concluded, among other things, that the ban on horse slaughter has led to increased case of horse abuse.

The report, called “Horse Welfare: Act Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter,” was directed by Congress. The report, released in June, said the slaughter market shifted to Canada and Mexico; from 2006 to 2010 horse exports for slaughter jumped 148% to Canada and 660% to Mexico.

The report also addressed horse welfare.

“Comprehensive, national data are lacking, but state, local government, and animal welfare organizations report a rise in investigations for horse neglect and more abandoned horses since 2007,” the report said. “These changes have strained resources, according to state data and officials that GAO interviewed. State, local, tribal, and horse industry officials generally attributed these increases in neglect and abandonments to cessation of domestic slaughter and the economic downturn.

“Others, including representatives from some animal welfare organizations, questioned the relevance of cessation of slaughter to these problems.”