Federal lawmakers today introduced a bill aimed at ending the slaughter of American horses for the meat trade.
The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, HR 1942, was introduced to the House of Representatives by lawmakers Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).
The Act, if passed, would prevent the establishment of horse slaughter operations within the US and end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund announced their support for the legislation.
Last year, more than 140,000 American horses were slaughtered for human consumption north and south of the US border.
Horse advocacy groups have long voiced their concerns over horses’ long and difficult journeys to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico without adequate food, water or rest. They argue that horse slaughter is inhumane.
Rep. Guinta said horses in the US were not raised for food.
“Permitting their transportation for the purposes of being slaughtered for human consumption is not consistent with our values and results in a dangerously toxic product,” he said, in reference to concerns over potential drug residues in the meat.
“This bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food.”
Rep. Schakowsky said horses sent to slaughter were often subjected to what he called appalling and brutal treatment.
“We must fight those practices. The SAFE Act of 2015 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve.”
Rep. Buchanan described the slaughter of horses for human consumption as an absolute travesty that must be stopped.
“This bipartisan measure will finally put an end to this barbaric practice.”
Rep. Lujan said horse slaughter was inhumane. “The vast majority of my constituents oppose horse slaughter. I’m proud to support the SAFE Act to ban this cruelty once and for all.”
The SAFE Act would also protect consumers from American horse meat, given that the drug records of US horses being sent to slaughter were rarely available or complete.
In December 2014, the European Union announced its suspension of imports of horse meat from Mexico after a scathing audit of EU-certified Mexican horse slaughter plants, which kill tens of thousands of American horses each year.
Welfae groups supporting the bill are encouraging the public to contact their US representatives to urge them to cosponsor the Act.
Horses have not been slaughtered on American soil since 2007. Several efforts have since been made by companies to re-establish plants, but a decision by lawmakers to renew a defunding clause covering federal horse-meat plant inspections prevents them from operating.