Bipartisan lawmakers call for permanent ban on horse slaughter

A group of more than 100 House members from both sides of the aisle is pushing for a permanent ban on horse slaughter in the United States.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, the group of 120 lawmakers requested language be included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget that permanently bans tax dollars from being used in the process of horse slaughter.

This would prohibit taxpayer money from being used to inspect horse slaughter plants, preventing the killing of horses for human consumption.

The letter was led by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

“Language similar to this popular and fiscally responsible policy has been enacted each year since Fiscal Year 2014, and for all but two years since 2005,” Buchanan’s office said in a statement. “This successfully led to a closure of all horse slaughter facilities in the United States.”

Buchanan’s office noted the previous language has not made the ban permanent, forcing lawmakers to advocate for its inclusion in government funding each year.

The language the lawmakers are now proposing would ensure taxpayer dollars “in this fiscal year or any fiscal year hereafter” cannot be used for the slaughter of horses in the U.S.

“Beyond fiscal and humane concerns, flesh from American is not fit for human consumption because equines are not treated as food animals in the United States and therefore are not maintained under the regulatory food safety requirements for animals raised for human consumption,” their letter stated.

“Throughout their lives, horses routinely receive drugs and medications that are specifically banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in food animals
due to their toxicity to humans,” they added.

According to the lawmakers, there was also a nearly 88 percent decrease in the number of American horses shipped abroad to slaughter for human consumption since 2012, when more than 160,000 horses were transported. In 2023, about 20,370 horses were shipped, the lawmakers said.

The Hill reached out to the offices of Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), the chair of the Appropriations agriculture subcommittee, and its ranking member, Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.), for further comment.

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