Equine Rescue

U.S. House passes amendment to ban transporting of horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter


“Slipped into a large transportation infrastructure bill, the amendment must now pass the Senate before it can become law…”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The House of Representatives passed an amendment Wednesday that would ban the transportation of horses across state lines or to Canada and Mexico to slaughterhouses for human consumption.

According to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the amendment, part of the larger INVEST in America transportation infrastructure bill the House passed Thursday, would effectively ban horse slaughter nationwide.

Before it can become law, the legislation must face an evenly-divided Senate, where its future is unclear. Only two House Republicans joined the Democratic majority to pass the INVEST Act.

The debate has been closely watched for years in Texas, where horses are big business and two of the last slaughterhouses were located.

Rep. Troy Carter, D-Louisiana, along with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and John Katko, R-N.Y., pushed for the amendment’s approval.

“It’s official! Our amendment to stop the transportation of horses across the country to foreign slaughterhouses is signed and sealed! #INVESTact #horses,” Carter tweeted Thursday with pictures of the amendment text attached.

Carter said a “legal loophole” allows tens of thousands of American equines to be exported each year to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

“The conditions on these journeys are particularly inhumane, with horses crammed inside trailers for long journeys without adequate water, food, or rest,” Carter said in a press release. “I offered this amendment because it was a chance to end this heinous practice once and for all and I am glad to see its successful passage.”

A number of animal welfare organizations also commended the amendment’s passage, including The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States.

“While horse slaughterhouses haven’t operated within U.S. borders in over a decade, current federal law doesn’t prevent the export of American horses to other countries to be slaughtered for human consumption,” The ASPCA said in a news release on its website. “The Carter-Fitzpatrick Amendment could finally close that loophole.”

The practice of butchering horses for human consumption in the U.S. came to a halt in 2006, when it was effectively banned after Congress stopped funding Department of Agriculture inspections of slaughter facilities.

Then in 2017, the House approved lifting the ban, reigniting the debate. Supporters of domestic horse meat production had been pushing Congress for years to reconsider its decision.

There were two slaughterhouses in Texas that processed horse meat before the 2006 defunding, one in Kaufman and one in Fort Worth.

Advocates of horse slaughter for consumption say there is a significant problem with unwanted horses. They say the option cuts environmental contamination from landfill disposal, and ensures aging and unwanted horses are treated humanely. Over the years, a number of Texas legislators, including Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Waco, have supported the legalization of horse slaughter.

But in 2018, President Donald Trump signed a spending bill that renewed the federal ban. The measure again prohibited the Department of Agriculture from spending money on inspecting horse slaughter facilities.

And this recent amendment, if signed into law, would make it essentially impossible for the practice to become mainstream again — a victory for opponents.

“This range of support only happens because it’s something Americans agree on,” Carter said. “Today, America agreed to fully ban the transportation of horses for slaughter. I hope the Senate will act next to turn this into law.”

5 replies »

  1. This is good BUT passing the Senate? I dont know. Listening to their constituents doesnt seem to the current mindset!


  2. This sounds very good that transport of horses to slaughter outside of the USA will be stopped. It is very inhumane. However, the legal slaughter of unwanted horses in the USA is almost impossible. Legal slaughter in the USA should be a priority. Even if you stop human consumption, it does not stop the carcasses being used in a way that does not lead to environmental degradation. Could small mobile abattoirs be used? Are there acceptable ways of disposing of carcasses?


    • It is illegal to slaughter horses to sell any parts of the carcass, period. Creating a meat market won’t address the needs of the “unwanted” horses and their people, but better end-of-life options would. Affordable cremation is one such strategy, respectful composting sites another, and state by state inexpensive graveyards is another. There is about zero demand in the USA for horsemeat, too, so that means any legalized slaughter in practice means for an export market. Environmental degradation is the actual grim reality of slaughter plants, and especially those slaughtering horses, so your comment about that isn’t based in reality. How does concentrating the blood, offal, and unused parts of thousands of horses come close to the natural degradation that occurs when a horse is property buried in widespread, diffiuse locations?

      Two important elements: the supply side and the onerous chemicals in most domestic horses which precludes any guarantee of safety to those eating their tissues. We overbreed in this country, and often produce animals which are highly inbred and/or structurally unsound. To this we add the high pressure to push them hard when too young, into performance “sports” or racing, with the resulting injuries and chronic unsoundness issues. We also have fewer and fewer people owning land so those with horses must board them elsewhere.

      We need to reduce the numbers of horses being bred (which has happened somewhat due to economics), provide owners some better end of life options (we could pay a small fee every time we buy a bag of feed or horse supplies, for example, to achieve this), and we need to take a much more clear-eyed view of our registries and related performance contests as they operate on the “disposable horse” model which fuels most of the supposed “need” for slaughter.

      Liked by 1 person

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