Handful of Legislators Condemn Horses to USDA Approved Abuse

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Washington, D.C. -- It would appear that some in Congress are all talk when it comes to seriously reducing federal spending and decreasing the size of  government. Despite overwhelming objections from the American public and the horse community, and despite Congress’ own supposed belief in fiscal restraint, the fate of America’s horses was undermined by three Members of Congress and their staffs behind closed doors this week. For years, an amendment to the annual Agriculture Appropriations bill has prevented tax dollars from being used to "inspect" horse slaughter facilities in the U.S.  The House of Representatives voted this year to again include it in the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, but three members of the Conference Committee, Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA),  Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), removed it from the final bill. A fourth member of the Conference Committee, Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), was the lone objector.

"I have been in Washington for a long time and this move baffles me. Both parties talked about making the hard cuts in federal spending and yet behind closed doors, three of the four men thought it was a good use of taxpayer dollars to ignore their colleagues and restore a federal program that will cost Americans at least $5 million a year and pull limited USDA inspectors from ensuring the humane treatment and safety of our nation’s food supply. To make matters worse, this was all done to appease a few foreign companies and Big Ag," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of AWI’s government and legal affairs department. "This action shows the true nature of some elected officials - that they are more concerned about helping special interests than doing what they were elected to do.”

Some legislators are trying to disguise what they did as helping the horses, but there is substantial evidence of horses suffering at taxpayers’ expense when slaughter was permitted in the U.S. While a recent GAO report attempted to connect an increase in abuse to a cessation of horse slaughter in the U.S., the authors noted that there was no actual proof other than claims put forward by pro-horse slaughter proponents.

With this cynical move, there is now only one avenue left for ending the tragedy of the slaughter of horses for human consumption: Swift action on the GAO’s other recommendation - passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

"AWI commends Representative Farr (D-CA), ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, for being the sole member of the Conference Committee to stand up for America’s horses and fiscal responsibility,” noted Heyde. “We look forward to working with Representative Farr and other Members of Congress on passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.”

The Animal Welfare Institute is calling on everyone who has horses and cares about the welfare of America’s horses to demand that Congress pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act immediately. 

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Media Contact:
Chris Heyde, chris@awionline.org, (202) 446-2142