Amendment to Defund Horsemeat Inspections Clears Committee

Amendment to Defund Horsemeat Inspections Clears Committee

An amendment that would deny the USDA funding to carry out inspections at horse processing plants has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.


An amendment that would deny the USDA funding to carry out inspections at horse processing plants has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. The amendment will be included in the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations Bill when it moves to the full House for consideration.

Prior to 2005, USDA personnel carried out horsemeat safety inspections at U.S. processing plants. In 2006, Congress voted to strip the USDA of funding for inspections at facilities that process horsemeat for human consumption. Department of Agriculture funding bills contained amendments denying the USDA funding for horse processing plant inspections until November 2011, when Congress passed an appropriations bill that did not contain language specifically forbidding the agency from using federal dollars to fund horsemeat inspections. While there are no horse processing plants currently operating in the United States, the Valley Meat Co., LLC, has applied for a USDA permit to process horses in New Mexico. The operation has had pre-permitting inspections and the permit remains pending.

On June 13, Anne Hughes, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, said that members of the House Appropriations Committee had passed the so-called Moran Amendment by a voice vote. Co-sponsored by Rep. Bill Young, the bipartisan provision would prevent the USDA from using federal funds to conduct meat inspections at horse slaughter facilities. The funding denial would, in effect, ban horse processing in the United States, Hughes said.

A similar amendment was attached to previous appropriations bills, but was later stripped from the final appropriations legislation. This amendment has a good chance of remaining attached to the final legislation for several reasons, Hughes said.

“First, there is the urgency of the current situation (in the) pending approval of a facility in New Mexico,” Hughes said. “Also the amendment has the support of the USDA that included this provision in their fiscal year 2014 budget request.”

Finally, Hughes said, members of the public are more aware that U.S. horse processing could resume and are willing to pressure their Congressmen to prevent it.

Jo Deibel, founder and executive director of the Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue in Glennville, Pa., praised the amendment for effectively preventing the resumption of horse processing in the United States.

“It's a fate no horse should ever face,” Deibel said.

Meanwhile, attorney Blair Dunn, who represents the owners of Valley Meats, Co., said it's too soon to know how the legislation will fare.

“It's not done in the House and still has to pass the Senate,” Dunn said. “If it makes it out, then as of September everything will be shut down again and we will be left to seek $8 million in damages incurred in the past 14 months.”

Finally, Tom Lenz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, has opposed legislation aimed at processing on the grounds that no proposed legislation has provided funds to support horses that could end up in a welfare situations possibly worse than processing, and no legislation has designated or funded a federal agency to care for those horse which might be treated poorly, he said. Even so, provisions in the Moran amendment are not surprising, Lenz said.

“It appears that the USDA has been inspecting potential plants that would process horses,” Lenz said. “I'm sure that has stimulated the efforts of those wanting to permanently stop the processing or export for processing of horses for human consumption.”

The appropriations bill containing the Moran Amendment moves on to the House for consideration.

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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