How the Federal Budget Package Protects Animals

by ~ASPCA President and CEO, as published on Huffington Post Blog

Horse Slaughter: To be clear, this is still a short-term and incomplete solution…

"Harley" (Ginerous Legacy) Saved from slaughter by Habitat for Horses and adopted by author R.T. Fitch and his wife Terry. Photo by Terry Fitch
“Harley” (Ginerous Legacy) Saved from slaughter by Habitat for Horses and adopted by author R.T. Fitch and his wife Terry. Photo by Terry Fitch

The massive, 2,000-page federal spending omnibus package President Obama signed today represents months of negotiations by the House and Senate. And while some of the loudest and largest passengers on that omnibus include defense spending, tax reform, and homeland security, a number of critical animal causes fortunately found seats as well.

Their inclusion wasn’t a sure thing, but in a process known for deep political compromises, it’s gratifying to see legislators not compromising animal welfare – particularly the protection of American horses and farm animals used in federal research for political gain.

First, the law will continue preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities, effectively prohibiting such facilities on U.S. soil in the coming fiscal year.

To be clear, this is still a short-term and incomplete solution. It requires annual approval, and does not address the problem of horses being shipped to other countries for slaughter, a cruel process that can also endanger human health. This is why we encourage passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2015, which would protect American horses from slaughter anywhere, permanently.

The federal spending measure also requires the USDA to improve animal welfare policies at federally-run agricultural facilities including the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) – a Nebraska facility where animals were subjected to horrible abuse and torture to help meat producers discover more effective ways to make money.

Combined with improved policies at the USDA, this spending measure will hold USMARC and other federal animal research facilities to the basic standards, inspections, and reporting requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

Other included measures will help protect wild horses from slaughter and ensure proper oversight and enforcement of laws cracking down on puppy mills and ending horse soring.

Considering how these humane proposals were in doubt as recently as this week, it’s tempting to think that we – and these victimized animals – dodged a bullet, but it should never have come to that. Ensuring animals are not tortured for industry profit is not simply a good idea; it’s an imperative that represents some of our most basic values and obligations as Americans and as human beings.

Today, our leaders stepped up for those values. Making sure they do the same moving forward may depend on how loudly we – the people they represent – stand up and speak out. Please consider the many ways you can be a voice for stronger legal protections for animals.

To comment directly on the “Huff”:


  1. We need to vote out all in D.C. who tried to stop the defunding for inspection of slaughter plants. One was Rep. Hal Rogers of KY . He’s not in my district but IMO is a disgrace to KY.


  2. Good article! Protecting the animals from the USDAs “research” should have been a no-brainer – but then – there are still many politicians (mine not included!) that have no compassion for animals. And Yes we sure do need to vote them out – BUT where are the ones who truly care?


    • I just read an email from AWHP that Jay Kirkpatrick had passed away. This is so sad for his family & friends, but also for all of us who care about wild horses & burros. He did so much for these animals by speaking out & having the experience & background to do so. Who will take his place?


    • It takes some searching. The Animal Protection Caucus is a good place to start — they have a list of supporters. Also, you may want to look into various voting records of people and the reasons behind their votes. One thing that should be taken into consideration is that someone’s lack of involvement on animal-related issues or support for bills that directly or indirectly hurt animals may be due to ignorance, not always indifference or a cold heart. A good demeanor and respectful comments to such a person may open their hearts to support good legislation that helps these amazing creatures. 🙂


  3. If these horses are to be protected, why is it that there is a story out that Whole Foods bought several acres to raise horses for meat in Oregon. I just found out from a friend that has been watching the story come true. While there are about 1,000 horses missing.
    Can you make this more clear, what is being done to stop them?
    I am sorry I am not able to really help, but our library keeps updates posted and I can get more info out.
    Thank You
    May you all have a Very Merry, Safe Christmas, Hope that the horses will be protected and safe from harm.


    • Priscilla, I wonder if you might have just seen the headline on an article which told about Whole Foods buying beef from cattlemen – not raising horses for meat? The headline on this article was a little confusing. Hope thats the case!


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