Obama, Congress Reverse Horse Slaughter Ban

Published December 20, 2011

President Barack Obama has signed legislation that could bring horse slaughter facilities back to the United States.

Until 2006 it was legal for slaughterhouses in the nation to export horse meat for human consumption in other countries such as Canada and Mexico. In 2006, however, Congress defunded the government’s ability to inspect the meat plants, and in so doing, it effectively shut down the industry within U.S. borders.

Horse slaughter facilities have thrived in other nations, however, and for the past few years horses from the United States have been shipped to these external plants for processing. 

PETA Supports New Law

Shortly after the U.S. ban took effect, unintended consequences became evident. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) expressed concerns horses transported across U.S. borders for slaughter were being exposed to inhumane conditions and abuse abroad.

“To reduce suffering, there should be a ban on the export of live horses, even if that means opening slaughterhouses in the U.S. again,” PETA said in a November 2011 media statement.¬†

In June 2011 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report concluding the horse slaughter ban caused an increase in abuse of older horses that were being sold to foreign slaughterhouses. The GAO report recommended that Congress reconsider its de facto ban.

Opposition Remains

Not all are happy with the end of the horse slaughter ban, however.

Horse slaughter should remain against the law, with other steps taken to eliminate abuse and neglect, says Nancy Perry, senior vice president of government relations for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Slaughter leads to “terrible suffering” for the horses and “terrible results for those who consume the product,” Perry said.

Cheryl Chumley, [email protected], writes from Northern Virginia.