Congress to Vote on Horse Slaughter Measure

Congress will vote Wednesday on an amendment to prevent the slaughter of horses for human consumption in foreign markets.

Representative John Sweeney (R-NY), co-chair of the Congressional Horse Caucus, is expected to introduce an amendment to the House Agriculture Appropriations bill that would prohibit any federal taxpayer funds from being used to slaughter horses.

"It is unconscionable that for decades, we have been using federal taxpayer dollars to support a practice that the American public is overwhelmingly opposed to," Sweeney said in a June 6 press release. "The amendment I'll introduce along with my colleagues John Spratt (D-SC), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) will prohibit federal taxpayer dollars from being spent on facilitating the export of horse meat from the United States for sale to countries abroad."

Sweeney first introduced the bill, cited as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, to Congress in 2003, where it was referred to the Committee on Agriculture. The bill failed to receive a hearing before Congress in 2004.

According to the Society for Animal Protective Legislation Web site, about 66,000 horses were slaughtered last year by three foreign-owned U.S.-based horse slaughter plants in Texas and Illinois.

"We do not eat our horses in the United States and it makes good fiscal sense to prohibit any further waste of the American people's hard earned money for an industry that offers absolutely no economic value to the United States," Sweeney said. "Even more importantly, it is our responsibility as a humane nation to protect our equine pets, companions, and athletes from the cruelty of horse slaughter."

A similar amendment is in the works for consideration by the Senate, said Whitfield spokesman Jeff Miles.

"I think we've got a good chance of getting it passed," Miles said of the anti-slaughter measure," noting Congress recently approved by a 249-159 vote a bill regarding wild horse slaughter. "But the Quarter Horse folks and the cattle folks are sending up their top leaders here today, so there is a definite battle ahead."