The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new rule on Sept. 7 amending the regulations regarding the transportation of slaughter-bound horses in double-decker trailers.
The Commercial Transportation of Horses to Slaughter Act, passed in 1996, gave horses bound for slaughter some protections, and after Dec. 7, 2006, slaughter transporters weren't allowed to move horses to their destinations outside of the United States in double-decker trailers. The new rule prohibits horses being transported in double-deckers to any point on their way to their final destination.
In 2006, Congress voted to stop funding for USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants. This effectively closed the three U.S. slaughterhouses. However, based on the number of horses slaughtered in North America in 2010, the closure of U.S. slaughterhouses has done little to stop or slow the horse slaughter business. Instead, horses now travel from the United States to Mexico or Canada, where slaughterhouses still exist.
Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2011, which is still pending in the Senate, would take this regulation one step further and prohibit all uses of double-decker horse trailers inside the United States.
However, another bill, introduced by Montana Senator Max Baucus, attempts to re-instate funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter plants.
“We’ve seen some pretty shocking cases across Montana of horse abandonment and neglect as owners face tough economic times,” Baucus said. “This ban is a part of the problem and has resulted in the inhumane treatment of injured and sick horses along with hurting the economy. We have an opportunity here to do the right thing for our farmers and ranchers while improving the welfare of horses.”