URGENT eALERT: Calls Needed TODAY in Support of Keeping Federal Government Out of Horse Slaughter Business!

June 13, 2011 – This week, the House of Representatives will decide whether or not to save taxpayer dollars and protect horses from slaughter for human consumption.

On May 30th, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill that prevents your tax dollars from being used to fund inspections of horse slaughter facilities.  This bipartisan language has been included in every Agriculture Appropriations bill since 2005.  Without this important provision, foreign investors will be able to reestablish horse slaughter in the U.S. at the expense of taxpayers, our own food safety, and the welfare of horses.

At a time when Congress is dramatically cutting back federal spending and eliminating wasteful federal programs, it is disappointing that some in Congress want to allow the reestablishment of a taxpayer-subsidized federal program that existed solely to support foreign-owned horse slaughter facilities that inflicted tremendous suffering on American horses.

The full House of Representatives will vote on the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations bill this Wednesday, June 15.  An amendment may be offered to remove the Committee-approved language prohibiting the USDA from spending your tax dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities.  Maintaining the USDA language defunding inspections of horse slaughter facilities as currently included is vital to protecting our horses.  It is critical that you call TODAY and urge your legislator to strongly OPPOSE ANY amendment to restore horse slaughter.

There is time to have your voices heard, but you must act immediately; your Representative must hear from you (see additional information below and visit www.awionline.org/horseslaughter).  The majority of legislators have supported previous efforts to end horse slaughter and you can see how your Representative has stood on the issue by visiting AWI’s Compassion index <http://capwiz.com/compassionindex/dbq/vote_info>.  If your Representative has supported a ban on horse slaughter, mention that when you call and urge him/her to stand strong and oppose any effort to restore horse slaughter.

Because of the urgency, AWI recommends you call your Representative starting today!  You can call the main Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative’s office or you can visit AWI’s Compassion Index <http://capwiz.com/compassionindex/dbq/vote_info> to find his/her record and direct number.

Please call your Representative immediately, urging opposition to any attempt to restore horse slaughter.  Be sure to share this eAlert and ask friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.  As always, thank you for your continued and critical support on this important issue.

Chris Heyde
Deputy Director, Government and Legal Affairs
Animal Welfare Institute

Agriculture Appropriations:

Retain Language Defunding Federal Inspection of Horse Meat and Horses for Slaughter

*         On the FY2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Representatives John Sweeney (R-NY), Spratt (D-SC) and Whitfield (R-KY) offered an amendment to eliminate federal funding for the inspection of horsemeat – required by federal law – for horses being slaughtered for human consumption. This amendment passed 269-158. The Senate overwhelmingly approved a similar amendment in the Senate sponsored by the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

*         Funding federal inspection of horse slaughter plants is fiscally irresponsible. Only foreign corporations, which deal in horsemeat for consumption by wealthy foreign gourmands overseas, would benefit from federal inspection of horse slaughter plants. Funding these inspections will only benefit foreign markets – at the expense of American taxpayers – and will add to the size of the federal deficit. Precious federal dollars should be conserved and put to better use by funding worthy domestic programs, including those programs that ensure the safety of food that is consumed in our country.

*         Inspecting horse slaughter facilities is a federal responsibility. Horse slaughter is a federally regulated industry. Opponents claim that slaughtering horses for human consumption is a states’ rights issue. The slaughtering of any animal for human consumption in the U.S. is a federally regulated process. This is the same for beef, hogs or other livestock (Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603); Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901). In addition, since horses sent to slaughter come from all 50 states, and horsemeat is not consumed in the U.S., it must be hauled across state lines and the over the U.S. border. Prior to the closure of the horse slaughter plants in the U.S., very few of the horses slaughtered in a state actually came from that state. Further, if federally-funded inspections were to begin, none of the meat would be consumed in the state where a horse was slaughtered, as we do not consume horsemeat in this country. Lastly, if a horse slaughter plant were to open in the U.S., the plant would slaughter horses transported across state lines, including horses from states strongly opposed to horse slaughter.  A state should have the “right” to protect its own horses from slaughter.

*         Live horses benefit the U.S. economy. The horse industry (racing, showing, eventing, etc.) bring billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year. While selling a 5-year-old horse to slaughter might bring $50 to a killer buyer, and more to the foreign investor, keeping that horse alive and in the local economy will bring far greater return for years to come in income and job growth.

*         Horses sent to slaughter are healthy and robust, not “unwanted.” The USDA estimates that 92.3 percent of the horses being sent to slaughter are healthy and can continue to be productive animals – they are not old or infirm.

*         American horsemeat poses a serious risk to human health. Horses in the U.S. are not raised as food animals, so while their flesh may be considered a delicacy by foreign gourmands, it poses serious risks to human health. According to a recent Food and Chemical Toxicology report, substances routinely given to American horses cause dangerous adverse effects in humans. If federally funded inspections were to begin, not only would taxpayer dollars be needed to inspect these facilities, but additional funding would be required to enforce transport regulations and increased food safety testing as required by new European Union mandates.

*         Horse slaughter for human consumption is a cruel process and one that should not be practiced here in the U.S. Americans do not eat horsemeat. Over 70 percent of the country believes that this is a cruel and unnecessary practice.

*         Approximately 100,000 American horses are exported to slaughter each year. There are 9 million horses in the U.S. Of the 900,000 horses that die annually, approximately 100,000 are sent to Mexico and Canada for slaughter for human consumption by foreign gourmands. Despite claims made by horse slaughterhouse lobbyists, each year the same number of American horses is slaughtered that were slaughtered when U.S. based plants were in operation. Our horses are simply being hauled to a location outside of the U.S. for slaughter for human consumption. The closure of the horse slaughter plants in the U.S. have not led to an increase in “unwanted” horses, as the same number of horses are being slaughtered now that were prior to the closure of the plants in the U.S.

*         Slaughter is not humane euthanasia. The average cost to humanely euthanize a horse by a licensed veterinarian is $225, roughly the same cost that it takes to feed and shelter a horse for one month. Properly euthanizing a horse is not cost-prohibitive and is what the vast majority of Americans choose to do with their horses at the end of their lives.

*         This language must be retained. This defund language has prevented horse slaughter plants in the U.S. from operating, and any new facilities from opening, which is why it is crucial in eliminating this cruel practice in the U.S. This defund language has been included in every Agriculture Appropriations bill since FY06. Americans taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for this unnecessary practice now, or ever.

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