2014 Fiscal Bill Could Defund USDA Horsemeat Inspections

2014 Fiscal Bill Could Defund USDA Horsemeat Inspections

If passed, the proposed "Omnibus Bill of 2014" would once again strip the USDA of funding for horsemeat inspections.

Photo: Photos.com

Horse processing in the United States could stop again even before it begins if both houses of Congress pass a comprehensive funding bill that deprives the USDA of funds to carry out horsemeat inspections.

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.

Federal funding bills continued denying the USDA funding for horsemeat inspections until 2011. At that point, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed an appropriations bill that didn't contain language specifically forbidding the USDA from using federal dollars to fund horsemeat inspections. After that bill became law, horse processing plants were proposed in New Mexico and Missouri.

On Jan. 13, as those plants remain pending, U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski announced the release of their fiscal year 2014 consolidated appropriations bill. Called the "Omnibus Bill of 2014," the proposed legislation once again strips the USDA of funding for horsemeat inspections.

The proposed legislation was welcomed by some horse processing opponents.

In a tweet, Rep. Jim Moran, who sponsored the Omnibus Bill language defunding horsemeat inspections said, "Yes we did...Great news Congress has said 'no way' to horse slaughter.”

In a written statement, Chris Heyde, deputy director of governmental and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, said the bill reflects a national campaign opposing U.S. horse processing.

“I feel this action by Congress signals the end of horse slaughter in the United States,” Heyde said. “Everyone now wants a permanent solution to shutting this industry down.”

Meanwhile, Atty. Blair Dunn—who represents Valley Meats Co., LLC, the Roswell, N.M.-plant that planned to begin processing horses this month—received the proposed bill with less enthusiasm.

“If passed, the bill stops us from processing horses; But we still have a viable plant and we probably will (process) cattle,” said Dunn. “Still the bill does not contain the funding needed for the rescues for these horses, or to feed them, or to put them on the welfare they need.”

The Omnibus Bill of 2014 must still be passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate. In a joint statement Rogers and Mikulski said they expected members of Congress to consider the bill this week.

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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