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November 29, 2005

President Signs Appropriations Bill Containing Anti-Slaughter Amendment

On Nov. 10, President Bush signed the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations bill, which contained an amendment prohibiting the use of federal funds to inspect horsemeat.

The three active slaughter plants in Illinois and Texas have 120 days to finish up processing horsemeat for human consumption. After mid-March, no funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be available for horsemeat inspection.

The USDA requires horsemeat processed for human consumption to be inspected by its inspectors, but this won\'t stop slaughter plants from slaughtering horses for pet food or zoos.

USDA officials are also reviewing the pending legislation to determine if a loophole will allow slaughterhouse owners to pay for USDA inspections.

The bill remains in effect until October 2006, the end of the fiscal year. On Nov. 8 the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1915) was introduced into the Senate. If this bill and its equivalent in the House (H.R. 503) pass, it would create a permanent ban on horse slaughter in the United States.

And the Bureau of Land Management is also working on a plan to halt horse slaughter—of the 32,000 wild horses and burros that roam over 10 Western states.

The BLM runs an adoption program to help keep wild herds in check on the land it manages, but finding homes for all the wild horses and burros has always been a challenge. Almost $20 million was spent on housing wild horses this year, so the BLM implemented a policy allowing horses over 10 years old or who had failed to be adopted three times to be sold for practically nothing.

But many of those people picking up wild horses for pennies were slaughter buyers. That wasn\'t the intention of the BLM staff, and they\'ve implemented a new sales contract that penalizes any person who knowingly sells horses to slaughterhouses or transfers ownership to someone who sells wild horses to slaughter. They face a maximum fine of $250,000 or five years in prison.

Representatives from the BLM have also asked slaughterhouse managers not to accept wild horses and for inspectors to report them.

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