Horse Slaughter to Remain Illegal in House Bill


Update June 16, 2011: By a vote of 217-203, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 2112, the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill.

Rep. Jim Moran’s amendment made in committee remained intact in the final version.

Under Rep. Moran’s amendment, inspections required for horses bound for slaughter for human consumption will remain de-funded as they have been since 2006. This means if the House version becomes law, commercial horse slaughter for human consumption will remain illegal.

The bill, H.R. 2112, is now assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

For more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below. 

Update June 15, 2011: Today, U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) offered an amendment to the House appropriations bill to strike the prohibition on fee-for-service in the provision defunding inspections of horses bound for slaughter for human consumption.

This would have allowed horse slaughterhouses to pay the USDA for part of the inspections of horses required by the Federal Meat Inspection Act for horses to be slaughtered for human consumption.

Lummis claimed a fee-for-service program would not cost taxpayers anything. But the slaughter industry would actually only pay a small portion of the USDA inspection. The taxpayer would pay for most of the cost. This would also pull critical inspectors away from our own food safety oversight. Fee-for-service is basically another taxpayer subsidy for corporations.

Had the amendment passed and if upheld by the courts, it is possible commercial horse slaughter for human consumption would have been legal again in the U.S. 

Lummis later withdrew the amendment. Rep. Jim Moran’s amendment defunding the inspections remains intact in the bill. This means if the appropriations bill passes with the Moran amendment and is signed into law, then commercial horse slaughter for human consumption will remain illegal in the U.S. as it has been since 2007.

For more on the Moran amendment and the appropriations bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below. 

Update June 13, 2011: Late last month the House Appropriations Committee accepted Rep. Jim Moran’s amendment to the proposed appropriations bill to continue de-funding of inspections of horses to be sent for slaughter for human consumption.

That means that under the Appropriations Committee’s proposed bill, commercial horse slaughter for human consumption would remain illegal in the U.S. 

The vote was close, 24-21. The measure now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote.    

After submitting his amendment to the appropriations bill to assure commercial horse slaughter would remain illegal in the U.S., Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) called for the U.S. to get out of the horsemeat business altogether. Read more here.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) also issued a strong call for Congress to take action to stop horse slaughter, noting "[t]here are really two issues when it comes to horse slaughter: the private domestic market for horse meat and federal management of wild horses". Read more here.

For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below.

Original report: The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug, Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Committee has released its proposed appropriations budget for FY 2012.

The proposed bill does not include a provision de-funding inspections for horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. The proposed bill does not prohibit use of funds to inspect horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. The subcommittee report does not mention it.

The 2010 Appropriations Act and as incorporated in the 2011 appropriations measure is explicit that:  

SEC. 744. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to-

(1) inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603);

(2) inspect horses under section 903 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901 note; Public Law 104-127); or

(3) implement or enforce section 352.19 of title 9, Code of Federal Regulations.

It is this language that is missing from the subcommittee’s proposed appropriations bill for FY 2012. It is the de-funding of these ante-mortem inspections of horses in appropriations measures that has prohibited commercial horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S. since 2007. Now, if the subcommittee bill passes, it could mean the return of commercial horse slaughter to the U.S.

Go here for more on the de-funding and the court decision that upheld it.  

Rep. Jim Moran will introduce an amendment providing for the de-funding of the inspections.

Humane Organizations Call on Congress to Oppose Horse Slaughter

organizations opposing horse slaughter

A critical vote is scheduled today in the U.S. House of Representatives on the 2012 appropriations bill and, in particular, whether Congress will continue to defund inspections for horses bound for slaughter for human consumption. If Congress votes to continue to defund the inspections, horse slaughter for human consumption will remain illegal in the U.S. For more information and how  you can help save the horses…..  

A number of humane organizations including Animal Law Coalition have sent the following letter to members of the House:

Dear U.S. Representatives,

We, the undersigned Organizations urge you to consider the following when voting on the Agricultural Appropriations Bill that currently contains Congressman Jim Moran’s Amendment to De-fund USDA Inspections for Post Mortem Inspections of Horses Slaughtered in the U.S. for Human Consumption.

The major market for horse meat from this country is the EU. FDA and EU standards ban Phenylbutazone in all food animals. After 2012 it will require lifetime documentation proving that they have not received a prohibited substance.

Since our American horses are not bred for slaughter, no record is kept of medications they have received and the EU is currently depending on affidavits from their previous owners. Killer buyers come by these horses at auctions where sellers are supposed to fill out the affidavits.

Advocates were able to photograph 23 of these affidavits (called Equine Identification Documents) at the New Holland auction and found none that had been filled out properly. Most had simply been signed and left blank for the kill buyer to fill in. A subsequent report by the EU [Ref.Ares(2011)398056]found that 27 horses had tested positive for prohibited substances and all 27 were carrying falsified affidavits.Horses that are slaughtered include former pets, riding horses, racehorses, performance horses, wild horses and work horses. Most of them have received the toxic substances like phenylbutazone (bute), de-wormers and inoculations that are not approved and illegal for use in animals intended for human consumption. It clearly states this on the labels of these drugs. Bute is so commonly used in the US that it is sometimes referred to as horse Aspirin.

By allowing American horses to be sent to slaughter, we are encouraging illegal activity and sending a possibly harmful product to other countries for human consumption.

If we were to fund USDA inspection of horse meat, we would put the USDA in charge of verifying eligibility and verifying false documentation in order to keep the banned substances out of the food chain. It will be far more costly than 5 million dollars. It will only benefit foreign corporations and consumers; Americans don’t eat horse meat.

By allowing our American horses who are not bred for slaughter, to be slaughtered anyway, we in fact become responsible for compromising the health of unsuspecting consumers in other countries. The future ramifications of this could be extremely serious.

You will hear from those few with a financial interest in slaughter, that ending horse slaughter will destroy the horse Industry. Their arguments are easy to see through. They are NOT speaking for the horse industry (WE are the horse Industry, millions of responsible horse owners), they are speaking for the Horse Slaughter Industry.

It is an outright fabrication that the horse industry has been negatively affected because horse slaughter is not available, it is available at every auction in the country and they know that. The horse industry has taken a fall because of the state of the economy and because it has damaged itself through over-breeding, in the same way the housing market and the banking industries damaged themselves by overcrowding the market.

Horse slaughter promotes over breeding and creates the overpopulation problem we have today.

Home builders have stopped building homes, because there is no market for them. While breeding has slowed some in recent years it is still being supported by the slaughter market. Some breeders are responsible breeders breeding for quality all around. However many are not. They can still breed 100 horses, pick out the million dollar winner discarding the rest to slaughter. It’s like buying 100 lottery tickets, cashing in the 5 winning tickets, and getting your money back for the loosing 95 tickets.

We need to slow down breeding until the market balances out again. We need to bring back the population of horses to a population that America can sustain, so that they all can have good homes.

Dear Representative, an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption for the many obvious reasons, which we have not even mentioned here.

We stand firmly together as Respect4Horses Organization (R4H), Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA), Animal Law Coalition (ALC), Habitat for Horses Advisory Council, (HfHAC), Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and Americans Against Horse Slaughter (AAHS), representing our combined almost one hundred thousand supporters, members and volunteers when we urge you to;

Please vote against any amendment that may be presented on the floor (possibly from Rep.Cynthia Lummis) that would appropriate funds to the USDA to inspect horse meat. Please vote to keep Congressman Moran’s amendment in the language of the bill to keep horse slaughter OUT of the business of the USDA and illegal in the United States of America.


Simone Netherlands, Director, Respect4Horses Organization, (R4H) (928) 308-6718

John Holland, Director, Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA)

R.T. Fitch, Director, Habitat for Horses Advisory Council

Laura Allen, Director, Animal Law Coalition

Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director, The Cloud Foundation

Richard "Kudo" Couto, Founder/Investigator, Animal Recovery Mission (ARM)

Debra Lopez and Shelley Abrams, Directors, Americans Against Horse Slaughter (AAHS)

Texas Cockfighting Bill Becomes Law

Update June 10, 2011:  H.B. 1043 has now been signed into law as amended by the House and Senate.

Under the final version, it will be a felony to knowingly:(1) cause a cock to fight with another cock; or (2) participate in the earnings of a cockfight.

It will be a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly use or permit another to use any real estate, building, room, tent, arena, or other property for cockfighting; own or train a cock with the intent that the cock be used in an exhibition of cockfighting; manufacture, buy, sell, barter, or exchange, possess, advertise, or otherwise offer a gaff, slasher, or other sharp implement designed for attachment to a cock with the intent that the implement be used in cockfighting.


It is a Class C misdemeanor to attend a cockfight on a first offense and a Class A misdmeanor for second and subsequent offenses.

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the conduct (1) occurred solely for the purpose of or in support of breeding cocks for poultry shows in which a cock is judged by the cock ‘s physical appearance; or (2) was incidental to collecting bridles, gaffs, orslashers. But these affirmative defenses are not available if the evidence shows that the actor is also engaging in use of the cocks for cockfighting.

Other exceptions include "bona fide experimentation for scientific research; or "the conduct engaged in by the actor is a generallyaccepted and otherwise lawful animal husbandry or agriculturepractice involving livestock animals". Children who are 15 years old or younger are also exempt. 

For more on the history of this new law which takes effect September 1, 2011, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.  

Update April 14, 2011: S.B. 939 was left in the Criminal Justice Committee following an April 5 hearing. 

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. is the bill’s Senate sponsor.

The House version, H.B. 1043, also remains in committee.

For more on these identical bills, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below.

Original report: Texas bill, H.B. 1043, would make it a felony for anyone to (1) engage in cockfighting, (2) operate a facility used for cockfighting, (3) participate in earnings from a cockfight, (4) use or permit someone else to use any property for cockfighting, or (5) manufacture, buy, sell, barter, exchange, possess, advertise,  or otherwise offer a gaff, slasher or other sharp instrument that is attached to a cock for fighting.

Oddly, it would only be a Class C misdemeanor to own or train a bird for fighting. Under the bill it would be a Class C misdemeanor to be a spectator at a cockfight.      

Any equipment used for cockfighting including any vehicles used for transporting cocks, housing, or equipment used to promote a cockfight like photography equipment as well as the birds themselves could be seized or ordered forfeited.

A similar Texas bill in 2009 failed to pass.

A number of bills were introduced nationwide in 2009-2010 to crack down on cockfighting; a number passed. Go here for information.  And go here for yet more animal fighting bills introduced in the last 2 years that also targeted cockfighting. In 2010 a bill and resolution to honor cockfighting as a "cultural activity" failed even to get a vote in the Hawaii legislature. Indeed, cockfighting is now a crime in all 50 states.  

More Fiction from the Dark Side

The pro-horse slaughter contingent has pulled out all the stops to try to get Congress to fund federal inspections that would allow commercial horse slaughter for human consumption to be legal once again.

Former Rep. Charles Stenholm, now a paid lobbyist for the horse slaughter crowd, has authored an article published here in support, of course, of the return to the U.S. of commercial horse slaughter for human consumption. 

Vicki Tobin, co-founder and vice-president of Equine Welfare Alliance, had this to say to Mr. Stenholm’s misinformation:

Mr. Stenholm, we certainly welcome opposing views but to support your views with pure fiction is an insult to the intelligence of our Congressional members and the American public. You are a paid lobbyist representing special interests in the meat industry, not horse owners and certainly not the American public that overwhelmingly opposes horse slaughter.

Closing the [U.S. horse slaughter] plants did not reduce or end [horse] slaughter. The same numbers of horses are being slaughtered [now as before the U.S. plants closed]. So to attribute neglect or abandonment to closing the plants is absurd. The kill buyers and auctions are still in business. The kill buyers will only buy the number of horses needed to fill the demand [for horsemeat]. If there are excess horses, it has nothing to do with the availability of slaughter. To reduce the horse population, you must reduce the number of horses being produced. Slaughter has not and will never control the population. Why aren’t you asking for breeders to breed responsibly and not produce more horses than the market can bear?

You claim the U.S. lost a $65B business when the U.S. slaughter plants closed. Not true. It was not a U.S. business. The profits and products [from horse slaughter when it occurred in the U.S.] were shipped overseas. Horse slaughter takes jobs away from the horse industry. Trainers, tack and feed suppliers, veterinarians, etc. don’t make money from dead horses. There was a total of 200 jobs between the three [horse slaughter] plants [when they operated in the U.S.], of which, 85% were filled by undocumented workers.

The jobs in Mexico and Canada were not taken away from the US, they were always there. The U.S. still shipped over 775,000 horses over the borders during the time the U.S. plants were open. (I don’t recall you complaining about the long distance hauls over the borders then. Why was it okay then but now it is one of your favorite talking points?)

All major veterinarian associations recommend humane euthanasia for ending a horse’s life. None of them state that they should be slaughtered. The documented abuses in the slaughter plants and the slaughter pipeline disprove your comments. The GAO report on horse slaughter and the Canadian investigations disprove your comments.

Also, your claims the horsemeat from U.S. horses is safe, is simply at best unsubstantiated and at worst blatantly false. The U.S. does not raise or regulate horses as food animals and to say otherwise is pure propaganda. The recent EU report detected banned substances in U.S. horses and every one of the horses were accompanied by falsified paperwork stating they were drug free. The standard tests do not detect bute residues. In 2004, the USDA ran a pilot test at Cavel [horse slaughter facility in Illinois] and did indeed detect bute and then switched back to the standard test.

If you can’t afford proper care for animal, be it a horse, dog or cat, you shouldn’t own one. Yes, horses are very expensive and if you can’t afford the cost of one month’s care, [about $225], to humanely end your horse’s life, you can’t afford to own a horse.

Go here for more on the June 15 vote on the appropriations bill and how you can help make sure commercial horse slaughter for human consumption remains illegal in the U.S. 

And for more on the mis-information from the pro-slaughter crowd….