Menendez Pushes to Ensure Horse Slaughter Remains Illegal

Menendez Pushes to Ensure Horse Slaughter Remains Illegal

   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was joined by 22 Senate colleagues today in urging the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Urban Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies to continue the prohibition of funding for USDA meat inspectors at horse slaughter plants, thereby continuing the ban on horse meat.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is opposed by 80 percent of Americans,” the letter states. “In addition to the inherent cruelty associated with the practice, allowing horse slaughter operations to return to the United States poses very serious health and safety risks to the American public.  Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits in animals destined for human consumption.”

The letter also notes that funding for this industry would take away funding from inspections of food items Americans do consume, and cites the 2013 European Union scandal in which horsemeat was mislabeled as beef as a concern should horse meat be sold.

Joining Sens. Menendez and Udall on the letter are Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Mastro (D-Nev.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

April 26, 2018

The Honorable John Hoeven                                     The Honorable Jeff Merkley

Chairman                                                                    Ranking Member

Subcommittee on                                                        Subcommittee on

Agriculture, Rural Development,                                Agriculture, Rural Development,

Food and Drug Administration,                                   Food and Drug Administration,

and Related Agencies                                                and Related Agencies

Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 129                Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 190

U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations                U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations

Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Merkley:

As the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies considers the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Appropriations Bill, we respectfully ask you to retain the Udall Amendment language from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (Division A, Title VII, Sec. 782) that ensures that no funding is authorized for horse meat inspectors or inspections, which would prevent domestic horse slaughter plants from operating.

Specifically, we ask that no funds be appropriated to pay the salaries or expenses of USDA personnel to inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603); or to implement or enforce section 352.19 of title 9, Code of Federal Regulations.  Beginning in Fiscal Year 2006 (FY06) with the inclusion of the defund language and in Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08) with the prohibition on user fees, Congress has been prohibiting the slaughter of horses through the annual Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

The slaughter of horses for human consumption is opposed by 80 percent of Americans for multiple reasons.  In addition to the inherent cruelty associated with the practice, allowing horse slaughter operations to return to the United States poses very serious health and safety risks to the American public.  Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits in animals destined for human consumption.

Requiring USDA funds for the inspection of an unsafe product that Americans do not eat is fiscally irresponsible.  In this time of continued budgetary constraints, USDA should not be required to fund unnecessary programs for an unwanted industry.  The millions of dollars necessary to conduct horse slaughter inspections will be diverted from inspections of food items that Americans consume and where it has recently become evident that more inspections may be necessary.

Moreover, the establishment of a domestic horse slaughter plant has the potential to threaten consumer confidence in American beef products.  As a result of the 2013 European Union scandal in which horse meat mislabeled as beef, frozen burger sales in the U.K. dropped by 43 percent in the month following the discovery of horsemeat, sales of frozen-meat dishes in France dropped by 30 percent, and sales of ready­made pasta dishes, frozen foods and meat sauces in Italy dropped by 30 percent.  It is not difficult to imagine the devastating impact on the U.S. beef industry should a similar scandal happen in our country.

We appreciate your distinguished leadership on this bill.  As you work to shape the upcoming FY19 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we respectfully request your review and inclusion of this language.  If you have questions regarding this request, please do not hesitate to contact us or our staffs.

Sincerely,