Slaughter Bills Advancing in Congress

Congress has once again begun to address the issue of horse slaughter.

A bill banning horse slaughter for human consumption was approved by the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee April 25. The committee voted 15-7 in favor of sending the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to be considered before the full Senate.

In 2006, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 263-146, but was not acted upon by the Senate before it adjourned for the year. Earlier this year, a federal district court ordered the shutdown of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that allowed the slaughter of horses for human consumption to be paid for by the slaughter houses. As a result, the three plants in the country, one in Illinois and two in Texas, have been forced to shutdown.

In addition, the House on April 26 voted 277-137 to ban the government from selling wild horses and burros for slaughter. If passed, the bill will restore a 1971 law protecting the wild equines that roam public lands in the West. Congress changed the law three years ago to permit older and unwanted horses to be sold for slaughter.

The issue of horse slaughter has been a volatile one, both on state and federal levels. Those opposing the laws are concerned about what will happen to horses originally bound for slaughter. According to the USDA, just over 100,000 American horses were slaughtered last year.