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Congress Introduces Bill to Ban Horse Slaughter and Export for Slaughter
By: Horse Collaborative On March 14, 2013

There are no horse slaughterhouses currently operating in the U.S. That is about to change—the USDA is getting ready to approve one in New Mexico, and applications from other states will not be far behind. Oklahoma has legislation pending in front of its Governor to authorize horse slaughter within Oklahoma. Meanwhile, The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act was introduced March 12, 2013 in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. SenateThe bill seeks to prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. and to ban the export abroad of horses for the purpose of slaughter. 

Americans do not eat horse meat for cultural reasons. In addition, horse meat is a bio-hazard. Horses in North American are not raised as food animals, therefore people who handle or consume horse meat are not protected from the drugs and other toxic substances horses are commonly given. These poisons are ones that the FDA expressly forbids for human consumption. The bill explicitly addresses this danger in its title, “a bill to prevent human health threats posed by the consumption of equines raised in the Unites States.”

Recent revelations that horse meat has entered the food chain overseas in efforts to provide cheap meat have put a media spotlight on the issue of horse slaughter. Some products labeled beef have been found to be 100 percent horsemeat. It seems that horse slaughterers are incapable of preventing horse meat from mingling with other meat. Or, if criminal prosecutions in the United Kingdom are any indication, that horse are slaughtered and put in products labeled as beef as part of a widespread purposeful fraud to increase profits while satisfying people’s demand for inexpensive food. The more details that become exposed regarding international horse meat traffic, the more reason to fear that if it can happen in Europe, it can happen here. The SAFE Act is a response from Congress to prevent Americans from facing that threatening result domestically.

Horses are exported live for slaughter in three principal countries, Mexico, Canada, and Japan. Banning horses from export for slaughter means, among other things, that owners of horses transported to and from auctions within the United States before being exported would have to comply with Coggins testing for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA also known as Swamp Fever) and health certificates from veterinarians signing off on the good health of a horse before he or she may be transported.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act was introduced March 12, 2013 in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. SenateThe bill seeks to prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. and to ban the export abroad of horses for the purpose of slaughter. The SAFE Act (S. 541/S.R 1094) has the following bi-partisan lead sponsors: Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). There are many additional co-sponsors and more will be added. To determine if your Federal Congressional Representative and Senators are co-sponsors of the bill or their position on the bill, contact their offices.  The full text of the bill together with current co-sponsors should be available by March 15th at the Library of Congress website, Thomas. 

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