WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today urged Senate leaders to continue the prohibition on funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) personnel to inspect horse slaughter facilities, effectively banning the sale of horse meat for human consumption. The senator led a letter signed by 22 Senate colleagues to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss), and Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
“In a time when Congress is facing difficult budgetary decisions, it is an irresponsible use of tax payer dollars to support a practice that so many citizens oppose. There is no domestic market for horsemeat in the U.S.,” the letter stated. “Horses are companions, work partners, athletes, and cultural icons. They are not raised as food animals in the U.S., and are therefore routinely administered drugs and medications throughout their lives that are unsuitable for human consumption.”
The senators note that 80% of Americans oppose the slaughtering horses for food consumption, and the last two states with facilities, Texas and Illinois, have implemented laws that would prevent the return of horse slaughter plants to their state.
Joining Sen. Menendez on the letter are Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chis Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calf.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.).
The full text of the letter follows below and can be downloaded here.
Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Chairman Cochran, and Ranking Member Leahy,
As negotiations for the final appropriations bill commence, we write in collective support of the provision (Section 758) in the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill (S. 1603) that prohibits the use of federal funds for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections of horse slaughter facilities. The Senate Appropriations Committee included the Udall Amendment prohibiting horse slaughter on a voice vote. This provision continues an overwhelmingly popular policy that prevents the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
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 defunct language, and in Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08), with the prohibition on user fees, Congress has prohibited the slaughter of horses through the annual Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for many years.
Horses are companions, work partners, athletes and cultural icons. They are not raised as food animals in the U.S., and are therefore routinely administered drugs and medications throughout their lives that are suitable for human consumption. Even fly spray and routine de-wormers contain chemicals that would be harmful to humans. Many of these drugs are expressly prohibited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration due to their toxicity to humans when ingested.
Horse slaughter is an inherently cruel practice that 80% of Americans oppose. In a time when Congress is facing difficult budgetary decisions, it is an irresponsible use of tax payer dollars to support a practice that so many citizens oppose. There is no domestic market for horsemeat in the U.S. Furthermore, the two states that most recently harbored the last three horse slaughter plants, Texas and Illinois, have laws permanently preventing their return.
We appreciate your distinguished leadership in the ongoing work on the FYI8 appropriations bill. For the many reasons described, we respectfully urge that you maintain current law and include Section 758 of S. 1603 in the final FYI8 appropriations bill.
April 22, 2021