The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an amendment that would ban the transport of horses across state borders or through Canada and Mexico to slaughterhouses for human consumption.
According to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the amendment, which is part of the largest transport infrastructure bill INVEST in America, the Past house Thursday would be effectively prohibit horse slaughter across the country.
Before becoming law, legislation must face an equally divided Senate, where its future is unclear. Only two House Republicans joined the Democratic majority to pass the INVEST law.
The debate has been closely watched for years in Texas, where horses are big business and two of the last slaughterhouses were located.
Rep. Troy Carter, D-Louisiana, along with Reps Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., And John Katko, RN.Y., pushed for approval of the amendment.
“It’s official! Our amendment to stop the transport of horses across the country to foreign slaughterhouses is signed and sealed! #INVEST #horses“, Carter tweeted Thursday with photos of the text of the amendment attached.
Carter said a “legal loophole” allows tens of thousands of American equines to be exported each year to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
“The conditions on these trips are particularly inhumane, with horses crammed into trailers for long journeys without adequate water, food or rest,” Carter said in a statement. Press release. “I proposed this amendment because it was a chance to end this heinous practice once and for all and I am happy to see its successful passage.”
A number of animal welfare organizations have also congratulated the passage of the amendment, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States.
“Although horse slaughterhouses have not operated within U.S. borders for over a decade, current federal law does not prevent the export of American horses to other countries to be slaughtered for human consumption, ”said the ASPCA in a Press release on its website. “The Carter-Fitzpatrick Amendment could finally close that loophole.”
The practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption in the United States came to a standstill in 2006, when it was effectively banned after Congress stopped funding Department of Agriculture inspections of slaughter facilities.
Then, in 2017, the House approved the lifting of the ban, relaunched the debate. Supporters of domestic horse meat production had been pushing Congress for years to reconsider its decision.
There were two slaughterhouses in Texas that processed horse meat before the 2006 funding, one in Kaufman and the other in Fort Worth.
Advocates of slaughtering horses for consumption say there is a significant problem with unwanted horses. They say the option reduces environmental contamination by eliminating landfills and ensures aging and unwanted horses are treated humanely. Over the years, a number of Texas lawmakers, including Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Waco, have supported legalizing horse slaughter.
But in 2018, President Donald Trump signed a spending bill that renewed the federal ban. The measure again prohibited the Agriculture Ministry from spending money to inspect horse slaughterhouses.
And this recent amendment, if enacted, would make it virtually impossible for the practice to become mainstream again – a victory for opponents.
“This range of support exists only because it’s something Americans agree on,” Carter said. “Today America has agreed to a total ban on the transport of horses for slaughter. I hope the Senate will then act to turn this into law. “