California Riding Magazine • May, 2013

The Gallop: Differing Positions
White House recommends removal of horse slaughter funding in proposed 2014 budget.

President Obama's 2014 budget proposal has triggered more debate about legalizing horse slaughter in the U.S. A joint release from the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and the Animal Welfare Institute reports that, "Congress could once again ban the use of federal funds to inspect horse slaughter plants in the United States if it follows the lead of the White House." All three agencies strongly support the move.

The rest of the agencies' release is as follows:

"President Obama's FY 2014 budget proposal includes a request for Congress to block spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect U.S. horse slaughter plants. A similar spending prohibition was put in place in 2005, which effectively shut the door to the grisly horse slaughter industry on U.S. soil. However, it was not renewed in 2011, leading to the potential for horse slaughter plants to reopen in the U.S. at the expense of American taxpayers.

"There are no horse slaughter facilities operating in the U.S., but the USDA confirms it has received at least six applications and is processing those requests. Humane organizations oppose the slaughter of American horses for human consumption because the practice is inherently cruel to horses. Additionally, horse meat poses a potential human health risk, as horses are not raised for food in the U.S. and are consequently treated with a wide range of drugs that are
not approved for use in animals intended for human consumption.

"Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said: 'It's a fool's errand to inspect tainted horse meat, and this Administration is wise to reject that path and to embrace the idea, even indirectly, that horses belong in the stable and not on the table.'

"Nancy Perry, senior vice president of the ASPCA, said: 'It is wonderful to see our government taking steps to ensure American horses are not slaughtered on our own soil for foreign demand, especially in light of the daily news from Europe about the horrors of discovering horse meat in their food supply from co-mingling with beef in tainted food products. Wasting tax dollars on cruel and dangerous practices makes
no sense, and we urge Congress to adopt this budget cut.'

"Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the AWI, said: Now that the administration has taken this important step toward ending horse abuse, reducing the size of the federal government, and saving taxpayer dollars, we urge Congress to swiftly ensure this widely supported language is maintained when sent back to the president for his signature later this year. Given the serious fiscal choices facing our elected officials in Washington, restoring an unpopular foreign driven horse slaughter industry that only serves to drain taxpayers' money every year, this should be the easiest spending cut they can approve.

"The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, introduced this year by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is a bipartisan measure that would prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat."

Another Viewpoint

There are dissenting opinions. In an open letter to the industry, the United Horsemen association explained its stance on the budget news and the Food Exports Act.

On the budget issue: "President Obama's 2014 budget proposes to defund USDA inspectors at horse processing facilities that produce meat for either domestic consumption or export. At United Horsemen, we are working with our friends from the Tribal Nations to educate the White House about the dire consequences of a processing ban, and the negative impact it would have on horse welfare and the industry as a whole. While the animal rights lobby is out dancing in the streets we believe that our due diligence, and you helping by contacting your federal legislators, the defunding language will be removed from the Budget. But again, we need your help to take care of business." 

On the Safeguard American Food Exports Act: "This is yet another ploy by the animal-rights camp to shut down the humane horse processing facilities on the verge of re-opening in the U.S. The various animal-rights groups are simply trying to leverage the recent headlines about horse meat in European products labeled as beef and pork to uphold their claim that horse meat is "toxic." The truth is, although horse meat was found in some products, extensive laboratory testing detected no human health hazards. This red meat scare is based purely on bunk science. More credible research should be conducted before we shut the doors to a potential export product in a time when U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace is at an all-time low."

For more information on the positions of all of these organizations, visit:
• American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: www.aspca.org
• Animal Welfare Institute: www.awilonline.org
• Humane Society of the United States: www.humanescoiety.org
• United Horsemen: www.united-horsemen.org