American politicians, animal welfare groups and horse lovers are expected to introduce a bill to the U.S. Congress this week that could, effectively, shut down horse slaughter plants in Canada.
Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and a Democrat from Illinois, are expected to introduce federal legislation March 13 that will ban the killing of horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses across the U.S. border for slaughter.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) support the legislation.
The bill is a response to a company that wants to open a horse slaughter plant in New Mexico, the HSUS said in a news release.
“If approved, Valley Meat Company LLC will be the first facility in the U.S. to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007,” the HSUS said.
The company has applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide inspection services for the plant. The agency is processing the application.
In late February the New York Times reported the USDA was expected to approve the request, sometime in the next two months. Valley Meat claims that under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the USDA must provide inspectors for all applicable species under the act, including horses.
“It is astonishing that we may see the resumption of horse slaughter on U.S. soil while Europe is still reeling from a horse meat scandal,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of HSUS. “Have we not learned anything about the industry’s deception in Europe and the turmoil it has caused?”
If voted into law the bill would cut off a supply of horses to Canadian horse slaughter plants in Fort Macleod, Alta., and Massueville, Que.
Since 2007, when the U.S. government cut off funding for horse slaughter inspections and the governments of Illinois and Texas shut down plants in those states, U.S. horse buyers began shipping animals to Canada for slaughter.
More than 160,000 American horses are exported each year for slaughter, mostly to Canada and Mexico, the HSUS said.
In an editorial on the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada website, a group that supports horse slaughter, James Laws, Canadian Meat Council executive director, said Canada exported $83 million worth of horsemeat in 2011.