Horse News

USDA Threatened with Suit if Court Order Not Followed Should Horse Slaughter Resume

Press Release from the Humane Society of the United States

Firing Up Horse Slaughter Plants Won’t Be as Easy as Horse-Haters Touted

The Humane Society of the United States cautioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a letter that the agency must comply with a 2007 ruling from the D.C. District Court prior to resuming the inspection of horse slaughter facilities—a crucial matter because such inspections could open the way to new horse slaughter plants in the U.S. The HSUS warned that it will consider taking aggressive legal action against USDA to enforce those obligations if the agency fails to follow the court’s order.

Although Congress chose not to renew a prohibition on USDA funds being used for horse slaughter inspections, those inspections cannot recommence automatically, according to The HSUS. In The Humane Society of the United States v. Johanns, the D.C. District Court enjoined USDA from restarting horse slaughter inspections without first conducting an environmental review of the environmental impacts of horse slaughter operations, which can include a persistent noxious stench and the presence of horse blood in the plumbing of neighboring areas. USDA must comply with that order before restarting horse slaughter inspections, and before any horse slaughter plant can open in the U.S.

“The court’s decision is crystal clear,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. “USDA must undertake an environmental review before inspections begin, and The HSUS will take appropriate legal action to ensure the agency carries out the court’s directives.”

In 2005, Congress voted to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for salaries and expenses of personnel to inspect horses being slaughtered for human consumption. By defunding horse slaughter inspections, horse slaughter facilities could no longer operate, and by 2007, all U.S. slaughterhouses were closed. Prior to congressional action, more than 100,000 horses were being slaughtered each year in the United States for consumption abroad. Horses are not bred or raised for food production, but were swept up in the pipeline of “killer buyers” who export horse meat or profit.

In a troubling decision, a congressional conference committee stripped the defunding provision, which had been in place for five years, from an FY 2012 agriculture spending bill, giving USDA the discretion to once again resume horse slaughter inspections, which could cost an estimated $5 million in taxpayer dollars annually. A poll conducted in January by Lake Research Partners for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that 80 percent of Americans are strongly opposed to horse slaughter.

“At a time when our nation is looking to cut spending, it is deeply disappointing that Congress added millions of dollars to the federal budget to enable the needless slaughter of America’s iconic horses to resume,” Lovvorn said.  “Americans don’t eat horses, and don’t want them butchered, shrink-wrapped, and sent to France or Belgium as a high-priced appetizer.”

The HSUS’s letter also noted that USDA will have to make extensive changes to its existing regulatory framework to comply with new regulations for the export of horsemeat to the European Union, a top U.S. export destination in the past.

A full copy of the letter can be read here.

12 replies »

  1. I hope someone oversees the “review” of the environmental conditions. I hope its not just a “review” done by the BLM. not.


  2. I’m glad that HSUS has come out with this. It almost makes me want to take back a lot of the bad things I have thought about them.


  3. I’m glad about the work HSUS has done, also !!–Every time they called me for a donation-i would ask why they did not do anything about our mustangs.–glad they finally took action!!


    • I Agree! And SO HAVE I done this! On every single solicitation or poll sent by HSUS, ASPCA, and also NPS, WWF, WWO, NRC & the like…on each 1, I’ve enclosed a statement demanding they Take or Change their Stand towards Protecting /saving the Wild HORSES —Before I donate anymore $$. And in those instances when they Have done so…I’ve also specifically mentioned appreciation for it. So who knows? If enough ppl did, perhaps it Has or Will “help some of these Orgs to decide” to change their Stances?… (sure doesn’t hurt..)


  4. Maybe a little skeptical here, but an “environmental review” does not seem to be that insurmountable, especially for a person or organization with substantial financial backing. I have seen developments by building contractors of designated “environmentally sensitive” areas approved when the average person (without the financial muscle) would *never* be granted permits…
    By promising to leave a couple trees, or build a footbridge over that salmon stream, large building contractors seem to be able to operate with impunity. Does it take some extra time and money to jump through the hoops?
    Sure, but it’s a drop in the bucket for many of these corporations.


  5. This should make me feel better about HSUS but it doesnt, I still think they are sell outs, sorry just saying what i Think of them………………………………………… They want their hands in everything but all they do in the end is sell out what ever they are supposedly defending ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


  6. If HSUS were not highly effective, the horse slaughter movement would not be trying to create laws to prevent them from being able to sue the government. The number of hours Sue and her bosses at the PLC devoted to trying to portray HSUS as an omnipotent world power whose major goal was to make sure that no one could own animals or eat meat of any kind was so over the top that it defies the imagination of any semi-literate person. The Virginia Master of Fox Hounds spent over an hour trying to make a case to the the pew fillers that HSUS/PETA is the most dangerous terrorist group in America. Considering the number of people who may be here just waiting for some lax security protocol to fail so they can blow up a building and kill hundreds of people like Timothy McVeigh or one of the terrorist groups our armed services has been fighting and dying to protect us from overseas, I found these comments particularly offensive.

    HSUS has made a huge contribution to the health of wild horses by spear heading and keeping eyes on the BLM’s use of PZP. The fact that the BLM has not been satisfied by the amount of PZP it was allowed to use initially, and that it is attempting to find more lethal and dangerous methods of fertility control when PZP has been proven to safe for mares and effective in managing herd sizes.

    HSUS is a 501 ( c ) 3 organization and as such there are limits on how many of their resources can be used for activities that can be classified as lobbying. Of course, the involuntarily retired former Congressman who is paid to lobby for the meat industry, says he does not lobby, he educates. HSUS has supported the rescue group that I work with as the ASPCA is doing. Just because an organization does not own a nationwide chain of animal reuse centers, does not prohibit them from supporting animal rescue. In fact, in the case of horse rescue, it is more cost effective to rescue in place (with responsible horse owners who want to keep their horses) and in foster homes.

    There are many eyes on HSUS, particularly public lands ranchers, puppy mill breeders, and people who want to slaughter horses. These groups are frustrated with their inability to shake the public’s faith and willingness to give financial support to HSUS. Though the public spin put on the Government Litigation Savings Act has been directed at Centers of Biological Diversity and Wild Earth Guardians despite the fact that the Sierra Club has sued the government more than any other environmental group, it is really about the success of Jon Marvel and WWP to use BLM’s failure to follow the law to reduce grazing permits in the West. Western Watersheds Project and HSUS are the two biggest threats to the people trying to rid our Western lands of wild horses and those who want to change the nature of the relationship this country enjoyed with our partners, the horse.


    • I whole-heartedly Agree!! + don’t Forget, it WAS the HSUS who gave Press Releases and wrote Letters supporting / THANKING the late Sen Byrd 4 his near-lifelong commitment 2 Animal rights, including Wild Horses ! and his re-worked ROAM act! + to Reps Grijalva & Rahall, as well.
      U may be still in a snit over PZP (by HSUS)??….UNTIL U realize that BLM is attempting 2 Use in-the-field Gelding + Mare SPAYING, instead?! Really? (I don’t think That’s what U Want, is it?)
      And like she said above, it’s clearly obvious that the Huge garnering of Attacks against HSUS –BY every 1 of our Horses’ (and Pets’) ENEMIES…means that they Are doing Lots of Right things, vs much much worse choices? —->WE have 2 work With and Appreciate those Groups and Resources that can Help our impt causes, in any way! & if U don’t Agree with every single word or action, that’s OK; every 1 has slightly ~different base agendas. –but, don’t “kick a Gift Horse in the mouth” 🙂 {just like When the Am Journalists Assoc(?) joined Laura’s suit, due 2 Freedom of Press & Access issues! That was a Great thing, right? (yet I doubt that so many of us “know”/or Care what their top 3 Other issues are @the given moment?) } We can’t afford to be Divided….


  7. As soon as anyone hears a whisper of a possible horse slaughter plant location, contact the Sierra Club, so they can be ready. They have the resources and do not want them to come back to contaminate our environment:
    They will tie up any site in impact studies and litigation for eons.


  8. All I can say about the HSUS is that they have helped my efforts. First, they helped to draft legislation to deprivatize our humane police officers and place them under the state police, they are partnering with PETE(Pa for ethical treatment of equines) in an essay contest for PA college students to write a moral position paper on why horse slaughter is immoral (they will supply the prize), they send speakers free of charge to my Philosophy of Animals class, participate in PA Week of the Animal, they have a hay bank, and they work diligently with us to pass animal friendly legislation in Pa. When PETA refused to help with hay drops for starving cattle and horses several winters ago, HSUS helped. OUr state director serves on our state animal response board and she always speaks about legislative updates when the PA Bar Association hold its annual continuing education in animal law and like the rest of us who participate we are unpaid but we do it to help animals. HSUS is committed to TNR of cats and has sent speakers to many of my seminars. They are primarily a legislative/educational organization. I do not donate to them because I believe in the statement”Think globally act locally.” While I hate the PETA killing machine (97% kill rate at their Virginia shelter) they support slaughter and do not support TNR for cats, I believe that HSUS is truly dedicated to changing the way non-human animals are treated in America. The horses need a powerful organization on their side.


  9. Faith, I’m with you. And, we do need the large organization willing to help us end the abuse our wild horses and domestic horses and donkeys are enduring at the present time. We must keep fighting until we win. The more U.S citizens know about this horrible thought of slaughter for our equines, with large media help, I feel we will start to see all those that are party to the slaughter train, start to rethink what they are doing. If not, they may now find a new job. Heaven forbid, wouldn’t that be unfortunate. I wish noone would have them in their employ because of their past ways of making money. I, for one, wouldn’t give them a penny to buy a cup of coffee even if they stood on the corner until they passed out. THey are dispicable individuals and I would love to see them get the same thing done to them that they are sending these animals to endure.


  10. Fox News aired this of Feb. 5: Horse slaughtering resumes in US as legislation languishes in Congress
    By Doug McKelway
    Read more:

    Doug McKelway reported that animal rights activists are turning to horse slaughter, because so many horses are unfed, abused and live horribly sad lives. Also, the cost of humanely euthanizing a horse is upwards of $600.

    It’s true that anything on Fox is suspect, but when they spread mendacious lies, it’s even more damaging.

    Unfortunately, most people do not realize is that Doug Mc Kelway’s report is bogus. He says, Congress has more pressing issues then to stop the return of inhumane horse slaughter. My answer to that is Congress needs to walk and chew gum too. Euthanizing a horse does not cost upwards of $600.

    Fox News needs to correct McKelway’s erroneous report and people should complain.


Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.