Is Horse Slaughter Legal in the US?
Horses in the United States are not bred and raised for meat, yet horse slaughter in the U.S. is a complicated issue. Although the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to end horse slaughter in 2006, the bill never came to a vote before the Senate. Yet in 2007, the slaughter of horses on US soil came to an end when a court ruling upheld a Texas law banning horse slaughter, and similar legislation was passed in Illinois. Texas and Illinois which were the locations of the last three large scale slaughterhouses, and they were ordered to close. Shortly after the last U.S. horse slaughterhouse shutdown, the USDA was prohibited from spending any money on equine inspections. Important point here: the USDA must inspect any meat for human consumption in the U.S., which basically means that horse slaughter plants cannot operate in the U.S. if inspections are defunded. The language to defund horse slaughter has been maintained in most yearly spending bills to keep horse plants closed, however, it is not a permanent solution, Congress must reconsider the issue yearly. For example in 2011, President Obama asked Congress to lift the prohibition, and USDA began to review requests for “grants of inspection” from a handful of applicants in rural areas. By 2014, however, bipartisan action re-imposed the ban on equine spending, and it was re-imposed before any applicant was able to obtain a “grant of Inspection” from the USDA. Since then, the budget ban has been re-imposed annually, and there are no prospects for horse slaughter within the U.S, but as the issue comes up for discussion every year in Congress, it is always a huge risk.
Although it is technically illegal here, thousands upon thousands of horses are shipped from the US to Mexico and Canada each year to be slaughtered for meat. It is estimated that 60,000-80,000 horses meet this horrific fate each year.
Currently there is a big push to pass The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R 961, introduced today by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. Their measure proposes to end the transport of American horses, burros and other equines abroad to be slaughtered for human consumption, and it would also ensure that horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil remain shuttered.