Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Leads Charge to Protect American Horses

Dec 14, 2017
Press Release
Letter Calls on Congress to Keep Ban on Horse Slaughter

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan, co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, announced today that he is leading an effort to maintain the ban on horse slaughter in the United States. The current ban will expire unless it is specifically included in the upcoming government funding bill.

Buchanan organized a letter to key congressional leaders, signed by 20 of his colleagues, requesting that language protecting horses from slaughter be inserted in any final spending agreement between the House and the Senate. The agreement is expected to occur in January.

“Horse slaughter threatens public health, is strongly opposed by the vast majority of Americans, has no American market and benefits foreign interests,” the group wrote in a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen. 

“Our American values support the protection of these animals; our federal policies should continue to reflect that.”

An extension of the horse slaughter ban is currently included in legislation that has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee but has not yet been considered by the full Senate. The horse slaughter ban was not included in similar legislation passed by the House in September. Buchanan and his colleagues are pushing for the Senate version of the horse slaughter ban to be included in the final funding bill.

Although the slaughter of horses for human consumption is currently not allowed in the United States, the prohibition is temporary and subject to annual congressional review. A national poll conducted on behalf of the ASPCA found that 80 percent of Americans favor a ban on horse slaughter and want to protect these animals from abuse.

Buchanan is the sponsor of the SAFE Act, which would permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and prohibit the transport of horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. The bill has been endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Letter signees include: Reps. Ed Royce.Barr, Chabot, Costello, Curbelo, Donovan, Faso, Fitzpatrick, Walter Jones, Katko, Peter King, Lance, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Reichert, Schweikert, Chris Smith, Tenney and Zeldin.

Full text of the letter below:

The Honorable Paul D. Ryan                                                    The Honorable Rodney P. Frelinghuysen

Speaker                                                                                   Chairman

U.S. House of Representatives                                                  Committee on Appropriations

H-232 The Capitol                                                                   H-305 The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515                                                          Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan and Chairman Frelinghuysen,

As negotiations for final appropriations legislation begin, we write in strong support of Section 758 of the Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill (S. 1603) passed with bipartisan support in the Senate Appropriations Committee. We urge that this language be included in the final agriculture appropriations bill.

As you know, this provision will prevent the reopening of horse slaughter facilities in the United States by prohibiting federal funding for health and safety inspections, which are required by law at all meat processing plants.

The U.S. Congress has adopted this provision nearly every year since 2005, ensuring that the horse slaughter industry does not return to American soil. Due to this strict funding prohibition, no slaughterhouses have operated in the United States since 2007. In fact, Congress just renewed this in May when it finalized the FY 2017 government funding bill.

There is no market for horsemeat in America - it is the product of an inhumane business which 80% of Americans oppose. Communities that have lived with this industry are its strongest opponents; the two states in which the last three horse slaughterhouses operated have enacted laws banning the industry from returning. Those foreign-owned operations regularly received citations for polluting surrounding groundwater and air, strained the budgets of their host cities, and created a nuisance for nearby residents. American taxpayers should not have to support an industry that they overwhelmingly oppose, and which primarily benefits foreign companies and foreign markets.

Furthermore, meat from American horses presents significant risks to public health. Horses are routinely given a range of drugs and chemicals banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on animals meant for human consumption. In 2015, the European Union implemented a ban on horsemeat imports from Mexico after EU inspectors consistently found drug residues in the product. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now experiencing a severe shortage of veterinarians to inspect commercial slaughter facilities. Activating new facilities to slaughter horsemeat for export would further strain the inspection system, threatening the safety of the food that Americans do consume, and creating a serious risk of horsemeat comingling with other commercial meat products.  

Congress is asked to make tough decisions about providing resources for important programs. Horse slaughter threatens public health, is strongly opposed by the vast majority of Americans, has no American market, and benefits foreign interests. This is not a responsible use of precious tax dollars. 

Our American values support the protection of these animals; our federal policies should continue to reflect that. We respectfully request that you continue current law and include Section 758 of S. 1603 in the final agriculture appropriations bill.  

Sincerely,