In January, Congress approved a massive $1.1 trillion annual spending bill to fund the federal government that included language prohibiting USDA from spending funds to inspect horse slaughter facilities. The language—which AWI fought to include and to shield from the concerted efforts of horse slaughter proponents to remove it—is identical to language originally included in annual spending bills from 2006 to 2011. Sponsored in the House by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and the late Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), and in the Senate by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), this defund language will prevent any horse slaughter facilities from opening in the United States for the remainder of the fiscal year.
This is an important victory—especially this year, as several slaughter plants nearly succeeded in opening their doors to this inhumane and unpopular industry. Horses and their advocates endured a dizzying back-and-forth court drama that involved USDA permit approvals, imminent openings, injunctions to keep the plants closed during the appeals process, an appeals court ruling in favor of the plants, and an additional lawsuit by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King that sought to keep Valley Meats—the proposed horse slaughter facility in that state—shuttered in light of its dismal history of humane slaughter and human safety violations.
Thankfully, the spending bill ends the debate for the remainder of the fiscal year. But as AWI has consistently said, what we truly need is passage of legislation such as the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act that would permanently end the slaughter of American horses both here and abroad. In the coming year, we will strive to make that a reality.