Update May 14, 2010: Missouri’s 2010 legislative session has ended. Some say that’s a good thing for animals.Â The pro horse slaughter provisions, originally, H.B. 1747,Â buried in S.B. 795, were removed by theÂ conferenceÂ committee.
The provisions were not attached to any other bill prior to the end of the session.
As one legislative aide, speaking on condition of anonymityÂ put it, "We don’t want to hear anymore about horse slaughter!"
In the final hours of the session, both the House and Senate approvedÂ the conference committee’s reportÂ reconciling the House and Senate versions of S.B. 795. The final versionÂ does not include the pro-horse slaughter provisions of H.B. 1747 that were attached to S.B. 795 a few weeks ago in the hopes of passing the legislation withoutÂ animal welfare advocates finding out about it.Â
S.B. 795 was sent to aÂ conference committee because the SenateÂ refused to concur in the House Committee Substitute which passed the House with amendments, including the pro-horse slaughter provisions.Â
For more on this bill and its history, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update May 7, 2010:Â Â The pro-horse slaughter provisions from Missouri H.B. 1747, that wereÂ sneakily buried in S.B. 795, an unrelated bill, were NOT withdrawn or removed by amendment fromÂ S.B. 795 on May 5 as previously reported.
At leastÂ 1 anti-slaughter lobbyist at the Capitol that day was given to understand the pro-slaughter provisions had been removed prior to the House vote on the bill. That was not true.Â Last week state Sen. Dan Clemens said there would be no further legislative progress on H.B. 1747, the pro-horse slaughter bill, leading citizens to believe the bill was dead for this session. In the meantime, the pro-horse slaughter provisions were simply quietly buried in S.B. 795.
TheÂ Missouri House of Representatives debated the House Committee Substitute version of S.B. 795 this past week amidst a strong public outcry against the horse slaughter provisions buried in the bill. The pro-slaughter provisions were originally in H.B. 1747 introduced by stateÂ Â Rep. James Viebrock. For more on this and how these provisions came to be buried in S.B. 795, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.Â
Update April 30:Â This week the chair of the MissouriÂ Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee, Sen. Dan Clemens,Â publicly announced "there will be no further legislative progress on H.B. 1747".
While he was making that announcement,Â Rep. James Viebrock had already moved the provisions of H.B. 1747 to another unrelatedÂ bill, S.B. 795.Â The provisions of H.B. 1747 were attached to S.B. 795 which passed the House Agriculture CommitteeÂ and scheduled for a vote by the full House of Representatives. Find a copy of the House Committee Substitute bill here.Â Go here for more on S.B. 795.Â
For more information about this bill, formerly H.B. 1747,Â read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below.
Missouri state Rep. James Viebrock is the sponsor ofÂ H.B. 1747, (nowÂ S.B. 795) which basicallyÂ would also authorize registration and inspections for commercial horse slaughter for human consumption.
The bill proposes that the Missouri Dept. of Agriculture would register commercial horse slaughter operations and certify "that the parts of horses to be processed are fit for human food, and the processing establishment to be operated complies with … sanitary standards". All registration and inspection fees collected" would "be paid to the director of agriculture and deposited into the state â€˜Horse Meat and Product Fund’". Annual inspection feesÂ would be used "to pay for USDA inspection of horse meat products and horse meat processing facilities."
According to the bill, H.B. 1747, (now S.B. 795) "the [state] director [of Agriculture] shall make all necessary inspections and investigations" and the USDA wouldÂ also have access "at all reasonable times to any building, room, vehicle, boat, or other premises in which any horse carcass, horse meat, or horse meat food product is processed, packed, transported, sold, exposed, or offered for sale at retail."
The USDA would be free to pay for samples or specimens of the carcass or "product" to determine if there are violations of USDA regulations. Â
The new law would have requirements for labeling, remedies to protect against adulteration, misbranding, failure to label or brand, or unfitness for human consumption. Places that serve horsemeat would be required to post conspicuous warning signs.
The proposal, of course, is simply another tactic to promote horse slaughter with the hope of forcing a return of horse slaughter to this country.Â This bill is similar to a number of bills and resolutions introduced in 2009 and several more this year, 2010, also offered in an effort to defeat the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, H.R. 503/S.B. 727, now pending in Congress and which would make it illegal to "possess…, ship…, transport…, purchase.., sell… deliver…, or receive" in interstate or foreign commerce any horse "with the intent that it is to be slaughtered for human consumption".Â Â The latest of these bills to pass as part of the pro-slaughter disinformation campaign is a Wyoming law that sadly promotes sending horses to slaughter but not toÂ rescues or sanctuaries.
Right now, commercial horse slaughter for human consumption is illegal in the U.S. though horses can be transported to other countries, typically Mexico andÂ Canada, for slaughter. Since 2006 Congress has de-funded ante-mortem inspections required to slaughter horses for human consumption.Â Congress continued the de-funding in the 2010 Appropriations Act, Sec. 744.
In 2007 a federal court rejected an attempt by the USDA to allow horse slaughter operators to pay for the inspections. The USDA is currently not authorized to conduct ante-mortem inspections of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. Without those inspections, it is illegal under the Federal Meat Inspection Act ("FMIA"), 21 U.S.C. Â§Â§601(w)(1), 603, to slaughter horses for human consumption.
If this bill becomes law, it is not clear the USDA would authorize Missouri state inspectors to conduct the required inspections. Â The funds to pay for the state as well as USDA inspections would come from horse slaughter operators, the same situation in the previous litigation.Â The judge in that case found the USDA Â violated the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. Â§ 706 and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 42 U.S.C. Â§ 4321, et seq., by failing to consider adequately, or, really, at all, the environmental impact of its action in allowing horse slaughter operators to pay for their own inspections. Â Â
Also, there is strong opposition to horse slaughter in the U.S., and the goal is to pass the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, H.R. 503/S.B. 727, to end this brutal practice altogether for all American horses. Â A similar bill passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority in 2006, a vote of 263 to 146, but was never voted on in the Senate.
In 2007Â a law in Texas, Texas Agriculture Code Â§Â§ 149.001-.007Â was found to ban horse slaughter for human consumption and was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. A ban inÂ Illinois, 225 ILCS 635, on horse slaughter for human consumption wasÂ upheldÂ in 2008 by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. These state laws and court rulingsÂ closed the 3 facilities that were still slaughtering horses in the U.S.; those facilities were located in Texas and Illinois. Â (Go here to read about and help oppose state Rep. Jim Sacia’s effort once again to overturn the Illinois ban on horse slaughter for human consumption; the Iliinois legislature and Illinois voters have never supported this effort. )
Horse slaughter is also illegal in California, CA Penal Code Â§ 598c ("unlawful for any person to possess, to import into or export from the state, or to sell, buy, give away, hold, or accept any horse with the intent of killing, or having another kill, that horse, if that person knows or should have known that any part of that horse will be used for human consumption"). AÂ Mississippi law, MS Code Â§75-33-3, states that the "term â€˜food unfit for human consumption’ shall be construed to include meat and meat-food products of horses and mules.". InÂ Oklahoma, 63 Okla. Stat. Â§1-1136, itÂ is "unlawful for any person to sell, offer or exhibit for sale . . . any quantity of horsemeat for human consumption."
In 2009 the Rhode Island House of Representatives issued a resolution in support of a federal ban on commercial horse slaughter for human consumption.Â A similar resolution is pending in California. A bill is pending in New York to ban commercial horse slaughter or trade in horse meat for human consumption.Â Â Wisconsin, Senate Bill 142Â would also ban horse slaughter.Â