Obama Budget: No Horse Meat

Photograph by Nate Jenkins/AP Photo

Loose horses sold for slaughter.

From Bloomberg Government’s Congress Tracker:

President Barack Obama’s budget envisions zeroing out money for horse inspections, a move that — if it becomes law — would effectively block the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S.

Section 725, the very last provision of the Agriculture Department proposal released today, seeks to block funding for USDA meat inspection for horses. Under law, USDA inspectors must be on site during every stage of the slaughtering process to check animals and meat meant for human consumption.

The move comes amid an application from Valley Meat Co. to open a horse slaughterhouse near Roswell, New Mexico. Lawmakers led by Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who owns a rescue horse named Oreo, have introduced legislation (S 541) that would ban such meat inspection of horses. The companion House bill is H.R. 1094.

About 4.6 million horses lived on U.S. farms in 2007. That was the last year the USDA counted them and the final year of domestic slaughter, which wound down after Congress stopped funding federal inspection of horse facilities. More than 94,000 horses were slaughtered in 2005, the last full year before funding dried up.

Without a U.S. plant, horses have been shipped for slaughter in Mexico or Canada, enduring thousands of miles of travel in trucks and on trains. That has been criticized both by animal-welfare groups as cruel and by agricultural organizations as an argument for a domestic industry. Exports of live horses to other North American countries numbered 197,442 last year, more than double the figure in 2007 and more than six times what it was a decade ago.

 Alan Bjerga and Amanda J. Crawford contributed.

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