Congress removes restriction against USDA inspecting horsemeat slaughterhouses

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  November/December 2011:

WASHINGTON D.C.--A Congressional conference committee
scrapped House-approved language prohibiting the use of USDA funds
for horse slaughter inspections while reconciling differing House and
Senate versions of the “mini-bus” Agriculture,
Commerce/Justice/Science appropriations bill signed into law on
November 18,  2011 by U.S. President Barrack Obama.

The deleted provision “had been in every agriculture spending
bill since 2005,”  said Humane Society Legislative Fund president
Mike Markarian.  The deletion “reverses six years of U.S. policy
against subsidizing foreign-owned horse slaughter plants,”  Markarian
explained,  and could lead to the resumption of horse slaughter for
human consumption in the U.S.,  halted in mid-2007.
“That change might take some time,”  Markarian said, “since
the states would have to allow horse slaughter plants,  and there
would undoubtedly be court challenges.”

United Horsemen,  headed by Wyoming state representative Sue
Wallis,  celebrated the end of the anti-horse slaughter funding
restriction by announcing formation of the International Equine
Business Association.  Wallis called the IEBA “an outcome of the
alliances that United Horsemen has formed with entities like the
National Tribal Horse Coalition,  Charros Federation USA,  and the
Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.”

“With no market for the meat,  there has been no impetus for
the horse roundups traditionally carried out by tribes to cull the
herds,”  wrote Seattle Times staff reporter Lynda V. Mapes.  Selling
wild horses on Bureau of Land Management property directly to
slaughter has been prohibited since 1971 by the Wild & Free Rang-ing
Horse & Burro Protection Act,  but horses on tribal and other federal
property have never had protection.  Horse slaughter proponents argue
that the Wild & Free Ranging Horse & Burro Protection Act should be
amended to enable the BLM to sell about 40,000 wild horses who have
been removed from the range in recent years–more than the 33,000
horses left in the wild.

“The pro slaughter forces are certain to face tough financial
sledding,”  commented Steven Long of Horseback,  “in the wake of
strict prohibitions enacted by the European Union this year that
eliminate the prospect of importing U.S. horsemeat because of toxic
chemicals commonly administered to American horses.”

Markarian urged animal advocates to “redouble our efforts to
pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act,  S. 1176 and H.R.
2966,  to finally stop American horses from ending up on foreign
dinner plates.”

Markarian also noted “great news for horses also contained in
the ‘mini-bus’ bill,”  in the form of increased funding for
enforcement of the Horse Protection Act,  “which has been stuck at
the woefully inadequate ceiling of $500,000 since 1976.  The minibus
provides $696,000 for the Horse Protection Act-almost a 40% jump.”
The Horse Protection Act prohibits horse exhibitors from soring show
horses’ hooves to produce a coveted high-stepping gait.  As outcome
of a plea bargain settling one recent case,  horse trainer Barney
Davis,  38,  and three of his former staff are to be sentenced in
January and February 2012.  The maximum penalty for Davis could send
him to prison for 20 years.

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