A wide-ranging spending bill intended to fund the US government until September 30 includes a provision that will prevent the operation of horse slaughter plants in the country.
The omnibus bill contains other provisions that will benefit horses.
The president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, welcomed agreement by congressional leaders on the massive bill that will fund federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2017.
“It’s packed with good news for animal protection,” Pacelle said in his blog, A Humane Nation.
Pacelle said the nonprofit group and its allies had successfully staved off several anti-animal-protection riders, held the line on enforcement funding for critical animal protection programs, and even won new provisions and declarations that could help thousands of animals in the months ahead.
The full House and Senate are expected to take up the bill by the end of the week, after which lawmakers will begin work toward funding the various government departments for the following fiscal year.
Pacelle says the 2017 bill contains nothing to block important reforms, including a US Department of Agriculture rule to strengthen organic animal welfare standards and a rule to end horse soring (which is currently frozen).
The bill includes language that prohibits government spending on horse slaughter inspections, which Pacelle said rightfully maintained the ban on horse slaughter in the US.
“This language has been maintained for most years since 2005, and ensures that millions of taxpayer dollars are not expended on a practice abhorred by 80 percent of the American public.”
The bill also includes language to prevent the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its contractors from sending wild horses to be slaughtered for human consumption.
It also directs BLM to review all serious proposals from non-governmental organizations and create a plan, within 180 days of enactment of the bill, to maintain long-term sustainable populations on the range in a humane manner.
“A provision allowing wild horses removed from public lands to be transferred to federal, state, or local governments to serve as work horses makes clear that these horses cannot be sent to slaughter for human consumption,” Pacelle notes.
Gillian Lyons, senior wildlife fertility control policy manager for the HSUS, said in a separate statement that Congress was giving direction to federal land managers to protect wild horses, allowing some controlled adoptions of horses to third parties.
“But the Congress was explicit that this adoption process won’t be the first step toward transferring these horses to kill buyers and others who might slaughter or otherwise exploit them. The BLM, if it allows for adoptions, must create and enforce mechanisms to assure the long-term care for these horses.”
The tracks BLM wild horse and burro management actions, and is an advocate of fertility control as an on-range management strategy. It considers it a viable alternative to gathers, adoptions or long-term holding.
Pacelle, in his blog, said animal welfare advocates would have to stay vigilant to keep out harmful riders blocking the positive animal welfare moves in the 2018 bill.