New Hampshire Lawmakers Pass Meat Processing Bill

Lawmakers in New Hampshire have passed a bill establishing a state meat inspection system that some equine welfare advocates worry could facilitate horse processing in that state.

HB 339-FN-A allows the New Hampshire state veterinarian to employ a meat inspection administrator. Bill provisions apply to intrastate meat sales and to interstate meat sales if authorized by the USDA.

Several states operate meat and poultry inspection programs under the USDA's State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) Program, which operates under cooperative agreement with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Under the agreement, participating states must enforce food safety requirements that meet or exceed those contained in the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act.

The New Hampshire bill specifically defines meat products as those derived from cattle, sheep, swine or goats, but also includes horses, mules, and other equines in its definition of livestock.

Laura Allen, chief executive officer of the Animal Law Coalition said she believes the measure represents another effort re-establish horse processing facilities in the U.S. Horse processing has not taken place in the U. S. since 2007 after equine welfare advocates convinced lawmakers to strip the USDA of funding for horse processing plant inspections. Horses are currently shipped to facilities in Mexico and Canada for processing for European and Asian markets.

Since 2007, lawmakers in several states have either sought or passed legislation to facilitate privately owned horse processing plant development. Most recently, Nebraska lawmakers passed LB 305, a measure authorizing a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a state inspection program in that state.

"I see this bill as no different than (other) efforts to promote the return of commercial slaughter of horses for human consumption, or somehow circumvent the federal de-funding of antemortem inspections that has made commercial horse slaughter for human consumption illegal in the U.S.," Allen said. "It won't work."

Teresa Paradise, executive director of the Live and Let Live Farm Horse Rescue and Abuse Shelter in Concord, N.H. is surprised the bill gained legislative traction in New Hampshire.

"I'm very disappointed that the General Assembly would pass such a law," she said.

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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