Modern Americans love our horses, and not for eating, so we’re betting the news that Congress has lifted a ban on funding horse meat inspections, potentially enabling slaughterhouses to open, will be met with a bit of outrage. It’s not a simple matter, however.
Right now there is no federal law against horse slaughter outright, reports the Associated Press. But five years ago, a ban was placed on funding horse meat inspections, which meant that even if someone had a slaughterhouse, they couldn’t get the meat inspected as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s funding, and thus couldn’t sell it for human consumption.
The spending bill signed into law on Nov. 18 by President Obama will allow for those inspections, but doesn’t allocate funds in the budget for that to happen. The USDA says there are no slaughterhouses open right now, but they will inspect any that do open.
Opponents say this could cost taxpayers millions, and also, we love horses! But proponents explain that the ban had negative consequences for horses, including neglect and abandonment, as they couldn’t be sent to slaughterhouses when they were too old or otherwise unfit for work. They say a slaughterhouse could open in as soon as 30 days in Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or Missouri. As many as 200,000 horses could be slaughtered a year, with most of the meat being shipped overseas.
California and Illinois ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and other states hold tight control over the sale of horse meat.
Horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in U.S. [Associated Press]