Amendment Strips USDA Horsemeat Inspection Funding

Funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse processing plants would be rescinded under an amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for fiscal 2013.

Prior to 2005, USDA personnel carried out horsemeat food safety inspections at U.S. horse 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 horse slaughter plant inspections. Since then, developers have proposed horse processing plants in Missouri, Oregon, and New Mexico. No horse slaughter plants currently operate in the United States.

Introduced on June 19 by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran and passed by the full House Appropriations Committee on the same day, the new amendment reduces funding for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) meat facility inspections to $9 million below the fiscal 2012 level. The amendment also deprives the USDA of funds to inspect U.S. horse processing plants. Moran said that funding horse processing plant inspections would consume FSIS resources at the expense of funding for chicken, pork, and beef inspections.

Sue Wallis, chief executive officer of Unified Equine LLC, a firm that has proposed a horse processing plant in Missouri, was unavailable for comment.

Rick De Los Santos, who has applied for federal permits to process horses at the Valley Meat Co. LLC plant in Roswell, N.M., was also unavailable for comment on the amendment.

The Agricultural Appropriations bill now advances for a full House vote.

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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