The Obama administration’s proposed budget for 2014 included a proposal to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from spending money on inspections for horse slaughter plants.
Without inspections, the plants could not legally operate.
In 2007, a similar stipulation effectively shut down the last processing plants in the United States. However, that law expired in 2011, opening the door for plants to reopen. Currently, there are no horse slaughter plants open in the United States, although several companies are working toward gaining approval from the USDA to open.
Horses are currently shipped to plants in Canada and Mexico for slaughter for the purpose of human and animal consumption. Once there, the U.S. government has no control over the conditions or treatment of the horses.
The budget proposal is supported by animal welfare organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Welfare Institute.
“Humane organizations oppose the slaughter of American horses for human consumption because the practice is inherently cruel to horses,” the three organizations said in a joint statement. “Additionally, horse meat poses a potential human health risk, as horses are not raised for food in the U.S. and are consequently treated with a wide range of drugs that are not approved for use in animals intended for human consumption.”
However, investors are already seeking USDA approval to open plants on U.S. soil. The one closest to opening is based in Roswell, N.M., and owned by Valley Meat Company. A Blair Dunn, a lawyer who represents the owners of the New Mexico facility told The New York Times that his clients were disappointed in the Obama administration. “I know of a few members of Congress who are not likely to let it remain in the budget,” he told The Times. “All this means is more debate and more hardship for my clients because they’ve made these investments to modify their plant already.”