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Domestic horse slaughter stopped in Senate committee

Official Senate Photo of Sen. Mary Landrieu

A full amendment to the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill was added by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) on Thursday, May 22, that pertains specifically to the intense horse slaughter topic. Sen. Landrieu’s amendment was introduced during the full committee markup and calls for a ban on horse slaughter, citing health and budget issues.

Landrieu refers to already tight budgets that should not include moneys in FY 2015 to inspect horse slaughterhouses. Even the President’s proposed budget for 2015 includes a specific provision to ban horse slaughterhouse inspections. She further notes that the resulting horse meat is not intended for United States consumption. She says,

Without this amendment, funds would be diverted from inspection of food that Americans do eat to finance an industry that sells its entire product to foreign consumers.

Additionally, Landrieu discusses the overwhelming concerns about horse meat contamination, especially the phenylbutazone, also known as the shortened “bute” problems in horse meat.

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) brought up the most common argument, namely that banning horse slaughter is bound to cause a decline in horse welfare. In addition, Johanns voiced the often-mentioned argument that horses will still be transported out of the United States for slaughter and be subjected to inhumane slaughter.

Landrieu refuted that contrary to previous incorrect testimony on record, upwards of 92 percent of horses condemned to slaughter are in good condition. Her precise statement is:

They’re not sick; they’re not aged. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be having a problem.

Eventually, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s amendment passed 18-12.

Here is the voting record:

Yes Votes

Mark Begich (D-AK)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA)
Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Tom Udall (D-NM)

No Votes

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Dan Coats (R-IN)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Richard C. Shelby (R-AL)
Jon Tester (D-MT)

Michael Markarian who is the chief program and policy officer of The Humane Society of the United States gave this statement,

The American people will never accept the idea of cruelly slaughtering our horses to be served up on foreign dinner plates. We applaud the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for adopting the Landrieu-Graham Amendment to prevent taxpayer dollars from supporting an inhumane and wildly unpopular enterprise.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) added its voice of approval regarding the Senate committee vote.

Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs, AWI, notes that support against horse slaughter has always been compelling, and many legislators feel that the issue has “run its course.” Heyde states that no slaughterhouses are trying to open, and a partnership has been formed with the Navajo Nation to make certain that horses do not find their way to slaughter.

Heyde urges,

Now is the time to end horse slaughter for good and focus on positive equine welfare initiatives.

At this writing, a complete committee markup of the House Agriculture Appropriations Bill is due in a week.

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