There’s been a flurry of activity lately pertaining to the future of wild horses and horse slaughter in the United States. Like most things in Washington these days, keeping up with the latest developments is not easy, so here’s a rundown of what we know thus far.
Horse Slaughter May Return to the United States
Since horse slaughter plants shuttered in 2007, there’s been a de facto ban on the practice by blocking funding for the US Department of Agriculture to inspect horsemeat in the United States.
On July 12th the House Appropriations Committee voted down the defund amendment in a 25-27 vote (see votes below). This means horse slaughter plants could re-open in the United States as early as September 30th of this year, when the previous ban expires.
So what’s next? There’s potential for another amendment to the agriculture spending bill, should the House bring it to the floor. Otherwise, it will be up to the Senate to vote on a horse slaughter defund amendment. Urge your representatives to vote for the defunding of horse slaughter plants.
Update: Today, July 20th, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted yes to the defund amendment proposed by Senator Tom Udall, continuing the ban on horse slaughter.
Those Who Voted in Favor of Defund (Anti-Slaughter)
Peter Aguilar, D-Calif.-31, Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.-2, Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.-17, Katherine Clark, D-Mass.-5, Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.-3, Charlie Dent, R- Pa.-15, David Joyce, R-Ohio-14, Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio-9, Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.-6, Barbara Lee, D-Calif.-13, Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.-17, Betty McCollum, D-Minn.-4, Grace Meng, D-N.Y.-6, Chellie Pingree, D-Maine-1, Mark Pocan, D-Wis.-2, David Price, D-N.C.-4, Mike Quigley, D-Ill.-5, Tom Rooney, R-Fla.-17, Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.-40, Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.-2, Tim Ryan, D-Ohio-13, José Serrano, D-N.Y.-15, Peter Visclosky, D-Ind.-1, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.-23, and Kevin Yoder, R-Kan.-3
Those Who Voted Against Defund Amendment (Pro-Slaughter)
Robert Aderhold, R-Ala.-4, Mark Amodie, R-Nev.-2, Ken Calvert, R-Calif.-42, John Carter, R-Texas-31, Tom Cole, R-Okla.-4, Henry Cuellar, D-Texas-28, John Abney Culberson, R-Texas-7, Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.-25, Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.-3, Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nev.-1, Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.-11, Kay Granger, R-Texas-12, Tom Graves, R-Ga.-14, Andy Harris, R-Md.-1, Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.-3, Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va.-3, John Moolenaar, R-Mich.-4, Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.-4, Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.-4, Martha Roby, R-Ala.-2, Harold Rogers, R-Ky.-5, Michael Simpson, R-Idaho-2, Chris Stewart, R-Utah-2, Scott Taylor, R-Va.-2, David Valadao, R-Calif.-21, Steve Womack, R-Ark.-3, and David Young, R-Iowa-3
Wild Horse Legislation Turns Deadly
When the 2018 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) budget was released in May of this year, wild horse advocates were irate at the following language:
“The budget proposes to give BLM the tools it needs to manage this program in a more cost effective manner, including the ability to conduct sales without limitation. The budget proposes to eliminate appropriations language restricting BLM from using all of the management options authorized in the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.”
This language was further intensified in a press release by the BLM that included euthanasia as an option for dealing with wild horse overpopulation. Whether or not there is overpopulation is a hot topic of debate between wild horse advocates and government bureaucrats.
Facing major backlash from advocacy groups and concerned members of the public, the bill was amended to say the following: “Appropriations herein made shall not be available for the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of the BLM or its contractors or for the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”
That appeared to be a major step forward, but on Tuesday July 18, the House Appropriations committee agreed by voice vote to remove said language. Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign said the following of the latest developments, “Let’s be clear: the House Appropriations Committee members just signed a death warrant for America’s mustangs and it will lead to the wholesale slaughter of these irreplaceable national treasures,” Ms. Roy added, “The Stewart amendment is a mass slaughter amendment, and its proponents are trying to hide that fact from the American public.”
Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah said of his amendment that it did not make the horses available for sales that would result in their “processing as commercial products, including for human consumption,” adding, “The bottom line is this: these horses are starving. They’re destroying the range. They’re crowding out the deer and the elk because we cannot manage them,” Stewart said.
Rep. Stewart introduced a similar amendment to the 2017 budget that would have stripped protections from the Wild Horse and Burro Act, allowing the BLM to give the animals to any “… Federal, State or local government agencies to use as work animals.”
By Ashley Fairfield-Remeza