Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, today reaffirmed his commitment to banning horse slaughter in the U.S. His statement follows recent actions by the Oklahoma Legislature to repeal the state ban on horse slaughter and media reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may soon approve the opening of a horse slaughter plant in New Mexico.
Moran has spearheaded the fight in Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption, citing safety, cost, and public opposition to the practice.
"Recent news reports of horse slaughter plants reopening are deeply troubling. As one of the nearly 80 percent of Americans who oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption, we must fight to prevent the resumption of this inhumane, unsafe, and unnecessary practice," Moran said. "At a time when USDA's meat inspection budget is being slashed by sequestration, it would be irresponsible to divert dwindling food inspection resources to the horsemeat industry."
"Secretary Vilsack has already indicated that federal meat inspectors will be furloughed, impacting the operations of over 6,000 food processing businesses," Moran continued. "Requiring USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants would even further decrease funding available for beef, chicken, and pork inspections - meat actually consumed by Americans."
A Colorado State University report concluded that 90 percent of horses going to slaughter "are healthy, sound horses with no behavior problems." Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances, including the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, that are banned by the FDA from administration to animals destined for human consumption.
The expanding scandal in the EU involving beef adulterated with horsemeat demonstrates the risks involved in reinstating horse slaughter in the U.S. According to a London-based consumer research firm, U.K. frozen burger sales dropped by 43 percent during the month of February.
Moran continued: "I am pleased that the Obama Administration supports the reinstatement of the amendment I have offered to ban USDA inspections at horse slaughter plants, and will being working with my colleagues in the coming weeks to include that language in the final FY13 appropriations bill."
The Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill ended a five-year funding ban on USDA horse slaughter inspections, allowing horse slaughter facilities to legally reopen. A Moran amendment banning horse slaughter inspections was approved in the House Appropriations Committee, but the language was stripped during closed-door conference committee negotiations. This amendment was again added to the fiscal year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill last year, but the federal government is still operating on a continuing resolution based upon the 2012 bill.