State legislators' group opposes federal bills to restrict horse slaughter

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The National Council of State Legislatures recently approved a resolution urging Congress to oppose legislation that would restrict horse slaughter.

The last horse processing plants in the United States, two in Texas and one in Illinois, closed in 2007 after courts upheld state legislation banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Congress has considered bills that would prohibit transportation of horses to slaughter outside the country for human consumption—and is likely to consider the legislation again.

The NCSL, meeting Dec. 11-13 in Atlanta, passed a resolution opposing such legislation. The NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation's states, commonwealths, and territories.

According to the resolution, the loss of horse processing plants in the United States has contributed to the neglect and abandonment of unwanted horses. The export of horses for processing has increased, and some foreign facilities may not meet U.S. standards for humane handling and slaughter.

The resolution concludes: "NCSL urges Congress to oppose legislation that would restrict the market, transport, processing, or export of horses, to recognize the need for humane horse processing facilities in the United States, and not to interfere with State efforts to establish facilities in the United States."

Co-sponsoring the resolution were Sue Wallis, a Republican serving in the Wyoming House of Representatives, and Dave Sigdestad, a Democrat serving in the South Dakota House of Representatives. Wallis said the resolution will allow NCSL staff to lobby about the unintended consequences of federal legislation to restrict horse slaughter.