A wide-ranging spending bill which prevents the slaughter of horses on American soil for human consumption has been signed into law by US President Barack Obama.
Obama this week signed the $US1.1 trillion omnibus bill, which bans the use of federal funding for meat inspections at equine slaughter facilities. This has the effect of maintaining a de facto ban on domestic horse slaughter.
The removal of the defunding language in 2011 saw plants in three US states make ultimately unsuccessful moves to resume horse slaughter operations. Horse slaughter plants have not operated in the US since 2007.
“Time and again, the North American horse slaughter industry has proved itself to be reckless when it comes to matters of food safety and animal welfare,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
“Americans do not eat horses, nor do they want them suffering in long-distance transport and in inhumane slaughter plants so they can end up on a foreign dinner plate.”
Earlier this month, the European Commission decided to suspend horsemeat imports from Mexico due to food safety concerns.
US horses account for 87 percent of the horses slaughtered in Mexico for export to the EU and are regularly administered drugs and other substances over the course of their lives that are potentially toxic to humans.
A recent audit conducted by the EU also noted issues with inhumane treatment of American horses in holding pens on US soil and during transport to slaughter.
The HSUS and Humane Society Legislative Fund want Congress to pass legislation to ban horse slaughter outright, including the export of American horses for slaughter abroad.
The HSUS said the omnibus spending bill included strong funding levels for enforcement of animal welfare and anti-wildlife trafficking programs, as well as helpful provisions to encourage more humane management of wild horses on public lands, development of alternatives to animal testing, and updated regulations on treatment of captive marine mammals.