Horse News

Omnibus Budget Will End Chances of Horse Slaughter Plants Opening in US

Release by the Equine Welfare Alliance

“The new defunding language contains not only defunding, but also a stipulation that funding not be restored…”


A huge, huge thank you to Victoria McCullough, FL State Senator Joe Abruzzo and Vice President Joe Biden. No matter what you read, they drove this effort from the starting gate to the finish line.

A huge, huge thank you to Victoria McCullough, FL State Senator Joe Abruzzo and
Vice President Joe Biden. No matter what you read, they drove this effort from the starting gate to the finish line.

CHICAGO, (EWA) – The omnibus bill pending before Congress this week contains language that will end the possibility of proposed horse slaughter plants opening in New Mexico and Missouri. The last three plants were closed in 2007 under state laws, and Congress had defunded required inspections which made it impossible for them to open in other states until 2011.

In 2011, the GAO produced a report claiming that these closures had caused a dramatic increase in the rate of abuse and neglect. This report was used by members of a small conference subcommittee to justify stripping the defunding language that had been placed in the 2012 House Agriculture budget but not in the Senate version. The GAO report was later discovered by EWA to have been falsified.

 The new defunding language contains not only defunding, but also a stipulation that funding not be restored until and unless the Food and Drug Administration makes a determination that meat from American horses can be made safe to enter the food supply. The FDA regulates which drugs are safe in meat animals as well as their withdrawal times. The FDA currently categorizes horses as companion (non-food) animals. Such a determination would most probably require a reduction in the drugs available to treat horses and an increase in the required tracking of such treatments as is currently done with meat animals.

Defunding language was passed by both the House and the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committees in 2013 with super majorities, but neither budget reached the floor for a full vote. Last week with key support from Vice President Biden and congressional leaders, the defunding language was put into the omnibus bill.

 “Victoria McCullough was the one who made this happen.” explains EWA President John Holland, “It was the fact that Victoria, an accomplished international equestrian and CEO of Chesapeake Petroleum, was spending her own fortune without regard for any personal gain that I believe gave her the credibility to accomplish this.”

In a conversation with EWA, McCullough asked that her gratitude go out to the many friends of horses in government who helped her, including VP Biden, Frank Biden, State Senator Joseph Abruzzo, Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (FL), Rep. Tom Rooney (FL), Senator Mikulski (MD), Senator Mark Kirk (IL), Senator Dick Durbin (IL), Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Jessica Feingold-Lieberson and many others.

The success of this effort surprised many in Washington, since this budget has uncharacteristically little in the way of riders. Separate legislation will be needed to be passed to stop the export of US horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

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60 replies »

  1. Truly the Year of the Horse!

    Thanks to Victoria, and all those who have fought this battle down to us lowly petition signers. Congress heard from America on this issue and we shall keep it up until we have passed the SAFE ACT and end all slaughter of American horses Wild and Domestic anywhere.

    Tears of Joy and Gratitude. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!


    • I wrote all three of mine again this week, providing links and asking them to state their position. So far all I get is the “I’m monitoring” language but that’s not good enough. With midterm elections this year everyone needs to look to see who in their state is up for reelection and press them to take a stand.

      HR 1094


      You can do it all from here:


  2. We have lived under the torment of killer.buyers, horse traderz, abusers, black marketers and the Wrong people having the power in horses. This is where the tide turns and restores the horses faith in man. No one will work as hard to solve these issues after closure than the people who joined together around the world to end this.


  3. Now, the pressure to stop rounding up wild horses and put an end to mares used for estrogen must increase. I hope the ‘see something, say something’ will start to take effect with horse welfare as well as all animals. There is by far way to much abuse and neglect. My personal feeling is more regulations placed on breeders of all animals so no-one ends up in a bad situation.


  4. This is wonderful news for the horses. I have respect for Joe Biden now. I use to think he was a total embarrassment and full of himself and hot air but, if he is fighting to stop horse slaughter then he has my total respect. My hat is off to Victoria McCullough for putting in her own funds to stop horse slaughter. Adios to you, Rick De Los Santos. I hope Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin also gets shut down as she signed a bill on “her” holiday to open up horse slaughter plants. The dirty slut that cheats on her husband with handsome, young state troopers! Let’s pray that this really is the year of the horse and all horses stop being transported to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered. End all horse killing!


  5. Well money talks. A oil company has more money than the racing industry and the quarter horse organization combined. So with a lot of luck and knocks on wood this may be the year that horse slaughter is finally brought to a close forever. Once Canada and Mexico can’t import US horses to keep their bloody businesses going all of the slaughter plants in Canada/Mexico will shut down for lack of animals to kill.
    Neither country can produce enough horses to keep even one plant open let alone two. With the bills in Canada that some of the politicians are trying to pass to stop horse slaughter it may shut down there too. I guess Joe Biden will listen to common sense after all. I always considered him a old crackpot that should have retired long ago. Obama did say he would sign the bills into law if they made it to his desk. Lets hope they make it this time. If that happens here I think it will encourage people in Europe to work toward stopping horse slaughter there too.


    • Dear Barbara Yes, Who would have ever thought Joe Biden??? Yes, What an awesome Example we will be setting for the World, I am sure this Document of the Greatest Importance will be HAND Delivered, RT and all here will make sure of that !!!!!! All of Our staying power has been proven !!!!!


  6. ‘…..a stipulation that funding not be restored until and unless the Food and Drug Administration makes a determination that meat from American horses can be made safe to enter the food supply.’

    This same stipulation should stop US horses from being exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. Does it matter HOW they enter the food supply, on this soil or that? US horses are not safe to enter the food supply, period.


  7. After a year of bantering back and forth with Rep. Tom Rooney’s office about this issue it’s hard to believe he’s actually been a part of the solution. His staffer’s laughed at me on one phone call saying that my concerns over the brutality of horse slaughter were unfounded and slaughter was ‘humane’. Several scathing letters were sent followed by multiple calls to be sure the message was getting through.

    Every email from Wayne Pacelle, John Holland and even this blog were forwarded to his office. I don’t know exactly what it was that put him on our side but I’m glad it happened.

    Once this budget has the POTUS signature I will make sure he gets my pat on the back for his efforts!


  8. a Great Big Hurrah!!!!!!! Thanks RT for This Report And Thanks Too Victoria And John And All Who Worked Tirelessly To Make It Happen!


  9. wE Still Need Too Get The Safe Act Passed To Stop It Forever S Well As The Transport To Other Countries For Slaughter.. The Fight Is Not Over..


  10. I had an extended after dinner nap, and missed the news. Now I’m thinking about how to find jobs and other options for all the horses that find themselves without homes. I’ve been called a “wet blanket”, because I keep droning on about this. Imo, the way to make SAFE appealing to legislators on the fence is proving we have the capacity to absorb those that will always be with us BEFORE it’s passed. There’s no way to legislate responsibility. NM has a program in place, but our Equine Protection Fund needs lots of money from donations, and especially grants. Also a place for those seized by the LB or voluntarily surrendered to go temporarily, so they don’t overwhelm our overburdened rescues, and sanctuaries for horses who want or deserve to roam free with their own kind. We need to encourage ALL states that don’t already have viable programs to do the same. For me, it’s happy and grateful … with reservations.


    • Linda, I am New Mexican, and the next step is pressuring ALL horse registries to change the way they award prizes. Insist that competitions donate a percentage of their prize money and entrance fees to retraining, rehoming, and rescuing competition horses. Insist that horses be physically mature (at least 6 years old) before they compete and eliminate the speculation and inflated prices for young stock that produces so many unsound animals. Owners must understand they were committing for the long haul, (7 years from conception to show ring) and that alone will massively reduce over-breeding, and discourage criminal abuse of horses. The horse industry needs to do some serious internal housecleaning:


      • Those are excellent ideas. Certainly 2 and 3 yr. old horses shouldn’t be ridden anyway. That will be a tough battle though.


      • Actually, it is inevitable when horse slaughter is not an option and those breeding for a fast buck find themselves faced with the financial and public relations disaster of barns and pastures full of unsound unmanageable animals. Then reputable trainers/owners/breeders will be the ones that stay afloat. My suggestions might hurry that along with a little less grief for the horses is all. My main point is the surplus of horses is due to a business plan that considers the horse a shortlived ‘disposable product’. Change that basic premise to the assumption that horses are long lived multi-talented beings and we are all good to go.


      • Saraannnon, great suggestions. I think we can add to them some end-of-life considerations as well. The problem isn’t usually the cost of euthanasia but of burial, so maybe those who breed can have a portion of their registration fees (if they are registered horses… and maybe all should be?) set aside to fund at least one low-cost burial/crematorium area in every state. This is just one idea, but it gets to the point that if you bring a horse into the world you have an obligation on some level for the end of that animal’s life as well. I’m not one to promote endless government or ID systems, but we need to start having this end of life discussion as a society. As breeders reduce the proliferation of “disposable” horses the urgency reduces somewhat so better solutions can emerge.
        I completely agree about pushing horses far too young, which is also an economic decision, but also we can look to the European model which in some breeds requires a stallion to pass some extreme tests (away from home) before being allowed to breed any mares, then is not given a full registration until a certain number of his foals also pass the same tests.
        We need to look at both the supply side of the problem as well as the end-of-life concerns as a society. If we can imagine for-profit businesses which support a humane life and death for horses a sustainable change can emerge. One example might be a B Corp., which is a corporate structure set up as a regular for-profit enterprise, but rather than siphon profits or dividends off to shareholders, these monies are directed towards the primary social goal. Even the ideas of Muhammad Yunis (microcredit) might be applicable here whereby a nationwide framework could be sustained which would benefit both people and horses. It’s thinking cap time!
        The way to encourage change is to find a way to make it worthwhile financially as well as philosophically and ethically. Once that path is found it will catch fire.


      • Icyspots-
        the more ideas and options out there the better. The most effective are often the simplest though- A racing stable that keeps its runners through their early teens, then retires them to be pony horses is going to have approximately a tenth the turnover a show stable that ‘discards’ its three year olds and replaces them each year does. Breeding mares every 2 or 3 years and letting them raise their own foals means mares will be productive into their twenties, and there will not be a need for nurse mares and their foals, again drastically.reducing the number of horses sent to slaughter.
        Show riders should make sure that every competition horse has the option of a second life as a schoolmaster teaching new riders. Retired school masters can be the best companions for children, giving the horses a loving home and the kids an idea of what riding should be like. When horses have homes and occupations through their twenties, the end of their life is the passing of a beloved friend and can be handled that way.
        When slaughter is not an option all these suddenly become the financially astute and obvious alternatives.


    • We share your concern Linda. That is why we studied the causes of abuse and neglect. It turns out to be very simple….the price of hay. That in turn is driven by weather. So if we put into place a nationwide “rescue in place” system, we can offset most or all of the issue. In our New Years message, this is what we were talking about when I said we were looking beyond slaughter.

      Low end horse prices need to quit getting support from slaughter. Once this happens, lotto breeding will go down too.


      • John absolute common sense. The GAO report obviously was skewed. Someone needs lessons in common sense…


  11. Whoopee! Still more work to do re the S.A.F.E. Act but today we can well and truly celebrate. May I be so bold as to point out that Victoria McCullough and State Senator Joe Abruzzo are both from FLORIDA? And that passage of Florida’s 2010 Horse Protection Act was due in great part to the efforts of Victoria and Joe? That said, thanks to all of YOU who wrote, called your legislators and NEVER GAVE UP!


  12. Yeah !!! Bravo to all, WHAAAA HOOOOO especially Victoria McClough, I absolutely LOVE the Part NEVER TO BE RESTORED……………..Quick inform all our Horses………….. of this awesome NEWS, finally something great to tell them !!!!!!! HALLELUIAH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  13. May so it be the “Omnibus Budget” pass, But for the safety of all horses in United States the ones that travel cross the boarders for slaughter – the Safe Act – must get passed!!! So all doors for the American Horse be closed for any horse slaughter. Praying and calling my congress people.


  14. A big thank you to two of my own state senators, Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, for their support in ending horse slaughter once and for all. The fight is not over, though, until horses can no longer be shipped out of the country to slaughter. Please, let’s all keep vigilant and continue to press for protections for horses. Thank you Victoria McCullough for using your influence and finances to help win this fight!


  15. Year for the horses sounds great. But I want the bill to pass and then get really happy , had lots of disappointments in 2013, want the 2014 to go better for our horses, they need a break . keep the pressure up on the horses and their lives being taken from them , out of the wild to jail . Many thanks to all who have been in this horse & burro fight for life. It is life and death for them.


  16. I am thrilled beyond belief if this truly is the end but knowing what a horrendous struggle this has been for our beloved horses I am not quite ready to pop the champagne cork yet ! Once everything is signed , sealed and delivered then it’s party time year of the horse style 🐴


  17. Big huge thanks to all involved. I guess even though many of us got all those canned responses and we felt like we hadn’t been listened too we were.

    Lesson learned I guess. We have to stay the course. Even when it feels like we aren’t being listened to (canned responses). We don’t know who is actually reading our letters. Our letters and calls do matter. The people may act all ignorant–maybe that’s there way of trying to stay neutral on all subjects. But deep down their more aware than they let on and that we think.


    • Margaret, before someone like Victoria can make a difference, she must have the waters prepared before her by thousands and thousands of advocates. The victory belongs to all, big and small. But of course there is much, much more to do.


      • I’m just sitting on pins and needles now cause I want everyone in Washington to hurry up and sign the bill and Obama so that we’re that much closer to ending slaughter once and for all. I know this bill ends slaughter in this country but it doesn’t stop the transport issues.

        I’m scared that someone will throw some wrench into the works just because they can. Like Boner. And if he does that and that judge in NM lifts the TRO we are IN BIG TROUBLE.

        Geez, Victoria got to meet face to face with the VP?!, that’s a HUGE big deal. No matter what you may feel about him that’s a big deal.

        Note to John–when this bill gets signed I hope you do a “special” post Christmas video cause they are so awesomely cute! The last one was so much fun!


      • The price of peace for the horses is eternal vigilance by advocates. Sen. Inhofe of Oklahoma introduced a “Hail Mary” amendment today to restore funding to the Omnibus bill now before Congress, and says he will introduce the same language in a “stand-alone bill if his amendment fails. This pro-slaughter/anti-horse crowd must be watched with an eagle eye. Remember how sneaky Sen. Conrad Burns reversed over 30 years of public policy on wild horse and burro management with an amendment to the 2004 Omnibus Act.


  18. This took a lot of blood, sweat and tears from a lot of dedicated, hard working people. There is more to be done, so we have to keep on pushing to get the SAFE ACT passed. Our Wild Horses and Burros are still at great risk, We can’t let up. Our combined strengths can move mountains…or CONGRESS.


  19. HAY
    For those of you not yet convinced that we live in an increasingly international economy, button up your Dacca-made parka– globalization is bringing alfalfa and hay crops increasingly into the world of global trade.
    If you don’t know where Dacca is– look it up on your Shenzhen-made iPhone!
    While many crops (corn, wheat, soybeans, almonds and citrus) have long been traded on the world market, forages have been historically fed within a few miles of the animals they nourished (Figure 1). After all, hay and silage are bulky commodities.

    How Much Hay is Now Exported?
    In 2012, over 4 million Metric Tons (MT) of hay were shipped overseas, approximately double what it was in 1999 (Figure 3 – note, to convert MT to short tons, multiply by 1.102). For reference, the state of Nevada produced about 1.2 million MT and California 8.7 million MT in 2012.
    Asia and Pacific Rim countries have been the primary destination for U.S. hay exports. Almost all (>99 percent) of US hay exports are shipped from Western ports, with Japan as the largest buyer. From 1998 to 2012, Japan purchased, on average, slightly less than 1.8 million MT annually including alfalfa, timothy, sudangrass and kleingrass (Figure 3).


  20. Found this today, outlining drug and nutraceutical use in performance horses, including this telling few paragraphs:

    “Generally speaking, two rules of thumb apply to the worlds of equine medications and competition. The first is that, just as in human medicine, new drugs and other purportedly beneficial substances (“nutraceuticals” and the like) continue to be developed. All this innovation keeps the USEF drugs-and-meds folks busy trying to figure out what the new stuff does; how it might interact with other substances; and whether it should be permitted, restricted, or banned in licensed competition.

    “The second is that, unfortunately, there always seem to be competitors bent on skirting the rules in order to gain an unfair advantage or, perhaps, show a horse that’s not sound.

    “The racing industry has gotten plenty of bad press for the drugging of racehorses. In December 2012, the sport-horse world got a taste of the same medicine when The New York Times ran a story about a hunter pony that collapsed and died at the 2012 Devon Horse Show, in Pennsylvania, after having received 15 separate injections of various substances in the three days preceding his death.”



    Well, we can guess who made Mr. Inhofe jump. Rep Mullin (quoted below) is one:

    Mullin, who voted against the House bill, said, “This attack on the horse processing industry is an attack on the entrepreneurial spirit and a prime example of the federal government effectively putting an entire industry out of business.”

    Inhofe said, “Without these facilities, aging horses are often neglected or forced to endure cruel conditions as they are transported to processing facilities across the border.”

    One has to wonder what industry that is not operating at all in this country is being shut down by these laws? The only industry is the killbuyer/transport to slaughter industry which Mr. Mullin then intelligently describes as cruel.

    (Mr. Mullin might be surprised to learn that Victoria McCullough mentioned on the air last night the average age to the horses sold to slaughter she observed was a whopping 4 YEARS OLD!!!)

    I will be writing my senators and representatives yet again tonight to opposed Mr. Inhofe’s and Mr. Mullins onerous and idiotic attempt at serving the interests of a select few of their own citizens with legislation that affects all of us.

    “Labor omnia vincit” (one OK state motto) means that labor conquers all things. Although I am not an Oklahoman, I agree. I and many others will not rest until all horses, domestic or wild, are safe from the expensive, unethical and immoral practice of slaughter for export.



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