Omnibus Bill Passes, Nixes Horse Processing

Omnibus Bill Passes, Nixes Horse Processing

Congress has passed a bill that eliminates funding to carry out horsemeat inspections at domestic plants.


Horse processing will not take place in the United States now that both houses of Congress have passed a comprehensive funding bill that strips the USDA of funding to carry out horsemeat inspections at domestic slaughter plants.

Prior to 2007, USDA personnel carried out horsemeat inspections at U.S. horse processing plants. In 2007, Congress voted to strip the USDA of funding required to pay personnel conducting such inspections at the last two operational domestic equine processing plants. Since then, horses have been exported to plants in Mexico and Canada for processing.

Federal funding bills continued to include language denying funding for horsemeat inspections until 2011, when Congress passed an appropriations bill that failed to contain language specifically forbidding the USDA from using federal dollars to fund horse slaughter plant inspections. Shortly after that bill became law, horse processing plants were proposed in New Mexico, Missouri, and elsewhere; however none of those plants became operational.

On Jan. 13, Appropriations Committee leaders of both the U.S. House and Senate released their consolidated appropriations bill, the "Omnibus Bill of 2014." Section 745 of that bill strips the USDA of funding for horsemeat inspections.

On Jan. 15, Congressman Hal Rogers announced that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Omnibus Bill by a 369-67 margin. The next day, Sen. Mary Landrieu announced that the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 72-26. And on Jan. 17, President Barack Obama signed the spending bill into law.

In a written statement, Landrieu said the slaughter ban protects both humans and horses.

“I am relieved that horse slaughter is now banned in the United States, protecting the American public from the very serious health and safety risks posed by horsemeat,” Landrieu's statement said.

Atty. Blair Dunn, who represents Valley Meats Co. LLC in Roswell, N.M., said that though the bill's passage prevents his clients from processing horses, Valley Meats' plant remains viable for other use.

"We will probably process cattle," said Dunn.

Meanwhile, Landrieu said the U.S. House and Senate are still considering the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would permanently prohibit the export of horses to processing plants in Canada and Mexico.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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