Good News! The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of a provision that would prevent any efforts to resume the slaughtering of horses for human consumption on U.S. soil.
The bipartisan amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill, offered by Senators Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and approved by the committee 18-12, disallows spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015 on inspections at prospective horse slaughter plants. If there are no government inspections of the horse slaughterhouses then there can be no sales under the law. The bill also passed Congress, and President’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year also included a provision to block these inspections. Commenting on the new law, House Representative Moran says “The American public has made clear they oppose horse slaughter, and today’s vote reflects the will of the people.”
A similar spending prohibition in the 2014 omnibus spending bill halted aggressive attempts by horse slaughter proponents to open plants in New Mexico, Iowa and Missouri.
Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer of The Humane Society of the United States, hailed the successful bill protecting horses and says “The American people will never accept the idea of cruelly slaughtering our horses to be served up on dinner…plates. Horses are not raised for food, and they are typically dosed with a variety of drugs not appropriate for human consumption.”
From the vegetarian point of view, laws such as this, along with the new vegetarian caucus in Congress, gives us reason to hope for more good work ahead.
Congress has just lifted its ban on horse meat (individual state bans may still be in effect). Continuing its zig-zag and flip-flop pattern when it comes to food and nutrition, and after launching campaigns to eat more fruits and vegetables, Congress gave us just what we don’t need – yet another source of saturated fat and cholesterol-laden meat.
While horse meat is murder on our arteries, it isn’t doing the horse any favors either. Apologists for the new law try to say it’s better for the horses, by giving older and abandoned horses a more dignified end. Our friends at the Humane Society of the United States refute this with a solid review of the facts.
Some people try to claim that a ban on horse slaughter leads to an increase in unwanted older horses, or abuse and neglect of sick horses in need of veterinary care. However, USDA statistics show that more than 92 percent of horses slaughtered are in good condition and able to live productive lives. In California, where horse slaughter has been banned since 1998, there has been no corresponding rise in cruelty and neglect cases, while horse theft dropped by 34 percent after the ban. In Illinois, when the plant was shut down for two years, horse neglect and abuse decreased in the state. Allowing one’s horse to starve is not an option in any state—state anti-cruelty laws prohibit such neglect. Most horses which go to slaughter are not unwanted, but rather wind up in the hands of killer buyers because they are in good health and will bring a better price per pound for their meat.
Other proponents of horse meat claim that many U.S. horses are being sent to slaughterhouses across the border and that American plants are a better option. However, the plants in the U.S. have all been prohibited from slaughtering horses for good reason. Undercover footage from inside these horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. demonstrated how horrific these plants were. Slaughter is not euthanasia – it is a brutal and terrifying end for horses. We should not allow our horses to be subjected to this tremendous cruelty inside or outside of our borders.
While horse meat would have a long way to go to displace beef here in America, it has experienced increasing popularity in both Europe and Asia, so most of the horses will be raised and slaughtered for export. But there is still hope. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate that would end horse slaughter. U.S. Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., have introduced H.R. 2966, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, a bipartisan measure that will end the export and inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption across our borders. The bill was introduced in the House with 57 original co-sponsors. A Senate version, bill S. 1176, was introduced in June by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and now has 24 co-sponsors.
In the meantime, the best way to save the horses, or any farmed animal, is a healthy and delicious vegetarian food choice. In doing so, you’ll not only be giving yourself a much healthier meal, but you’ll also be saving these and other beautiful creatures from the grim realities of the slaughterhouse. It’s win-win all around.