BREAKING: Senate Passes Amendment to Prohibit Funding Horse Slaughter Inspectors

The Senate Committee on Appropriations passed its Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Bill today, including an amendment that would prohibit funding horse slaughter inspectors — in contrast to last week’s similar bill in the House.

Flickr/Office of Public Affairs/CC

The debate over horse slaughter in the United States will continue in Congress: today’s Senate Committee on Appropriations markup session for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Agriculture Bill saw the acceptance of an amendment that would continue to prohibit funding for horse slaughter inspectors.

Last week, the House Committee on Appropriations passed its version of the FY 2018 Agriculture Bill and did not accept a similar amendment, opening the door for the reintroduction of horse slaughter in the United States starting in October.

Horse slaughter has not legally operated in the United States for the past decade as a result of similar language in past appropriations bills that prohibited funding for horse slaughter inspectors, keeping facilities closed by default. Last week’s House vote, eliminating such language, was met with mixed reactions from horse lovers and horsemen all over the United States.

What happens now that the House and Senate have passed different versions of the agriculture appropriations bill? The House and Senate must approve the same measure in precisely the same language, which means that it’s now up to each chamber’s Committee on Appropriations to negotiate the differences between respective versions. (A full and lengthy description of the negotiation process can be found here.)

Once a conference report from negotiations is accepted by both the House and Senate, the bill will go to the President for his signature.

While slaughter is currently outlawed by default in the US through the lack of inspector funding, horses still fall into the so-called “slaughter pipeline” and are shipped to Mexico or Canada (as well as shipped overseas less commonly) with meat typically sold to European markets. Many supporters of US horse slaughter argue that re-legalizing slaughter in this country would reduce the suffering of animals being shipped over the border; opponents to slaughter argue that there is no such things as “humane horse slaughter” regardless of where the animal is taken.

Horse slaughter has been a contentious issue in the horse world and the political world for years, with strong arguments to be made on both sides for the health of the industry. The best way to make your voice heard is to contact your elected representatives, especially now that this amendment must be negotiated in conference. We encourage interested readers to contact their elected representatives and senators directly: you can find your representatives here and your senators here.

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