Congress considers new horse slaughter ban

Published on September 01, 2008
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Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives July 24 would criminalize transporting U.S. horses abroad to be slaughtered for human consumption.

Since all three U.S. horse slaughter plants were shuttered in 2007, horse exports have skyrocketed. According to the Department of Agriculture, 31,453 horses had been transported to Mexico for slaughter as of Aug. 8 compared with 21,583 horses the same time last year.

The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, purports to put an end to such shipments by criminalizing domestic and international sale, delivery, receipt, or possession of horses for processing for human consumption.

Additionally, the measure would criminalize the possession, sale, delivery, or export of horsemeat intended for human consumption.

Congress has wrestled with the controversial issue for several years. Some animal welfare groups say horse slaughter is inhumane and are supporting this new bill before the House Committee on the Judiciary in addition to the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311) which would also outlaw the practice. The Senate has yet to schedule on a vote on S. 311, and the House version is stalled in committee.