The bill funding the government for Fiscal Year 2014—which includes language that would de-fund inspections of horse slaughter plans, effectively banning slaughter in the United States—has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and was signed into law by President Obama Jan. 17. The budget bill doesn’t allocate funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections of equine slaughterhouses.
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., added the language to the FY2014 Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Agriculture, in June.
“I am relieved that horse slaughter is now banned in the United States, protecting the American public from the very serious health and safety risks posed by horse meat,” said Landrieu in a written statement. “Slaughtering horses is inhumane, disgusting and unnecessary, and there is no place for it in the United States. I appreciate Sen. [Lindsey] Graham's partnership to ban this cruel practice, keep our food supply safe and save taxpayer dollars. I will continue to push for the passage of the SAFE Act, which aims to permanently ban the slaughter of horses in the United States and prohibits the transport of America’s horses to other countries for slaughter.”
Inspections won't be allowed through September, though the funding ban can be extended through continuing resolutions.
"It is certainly disappointing that Congress is returning to a failed policy at the urging of special interest groups while failing to provide for an alternative," Blair Dunn, an attorney for Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., and Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, Mo., told ABC News. "The result is more waste and devastation of the range and the denial of access to an export market that would have created jobs and positive economic impacts to rural agriculture communities that desperately need these opportunities."
Congress first passed the horse slaughter ban in 2006, but it was not renewed in 2011. Since then, numerous lawsuits have occurred between companies wishing to open slaughter plants and animal rights groups. One lawsuit, between New Mexico Attorney General Gary King and Valley Meat Co., is ongoing.