March 1, 2010
HB 765, the House version of Florida state legislation introduced to help crack down on the black market sale of horsemeat for human consumption was referred to the Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy Committee today. Its companion bill, SB 1708, sits in Criminal Justice; Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations.
Horses have been stolen and slaughtered for their meat, or killed and butchered right in their stalls, mostly in the Miami-Dade area of Florida.
Identical bills filed by Florida Representative Luis Garcia (D-Miami) and Florida Senator Victor Crist (R-Tampa), HB 765 and SB 1708, would make it unlawful, among other things, to:
Sell in the markets of this state horse meat for human consumption unless the horse meat is clearly stamped, marked, and described as horse meat for human consumption.
Knowingly transport, distribute, sell, purchase, or possess horse meat for human consumption that is not clearly stamped, marked, and described as horsemeat for human consumption or horse meat that is not acquired from a licensed slaughterhouse.
The penalty would carry a minimum of one year in prison, a $3,500 fine and an offending establishment could lose its license.
There are no licensed horse slaughter plants currently operating in the U.S. for human consumption. The last plant, Cavel International in DeKalb, Illinois, was closed in 2007.
Horsemeat for human consumption must be USDA inspected. A federal law suspending funding for USDA inspectors at horse slaughter plants closed them down because they could not legally export the meat. However, it did not make the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption illegal or prohibit the export of horses for slaughter.
If enacted, the Florida state legislation will help prosecute horse slaughterers who sell the meat on the black market. It does not bar the door to horse slaughter in a licensed plant.
Numerous states are trying to bring horse slaughter back to the U.S. Even if they are successful in building one, exporting the horse meat is against Federal law. They will also have to contend with the EU directive to quarantine horses intended for slaughter for 6 months which will make it difficult to profit.
Federal legislation banning horse slaughter for human consumption nationwide and the live export of American horses across U.S. borders for the same purpose is pending before Congress. The bill numbers are H.R. 503 and S. 727.
Please contact your U.S. Representative re H.R. 503 (you have one) and U.S. Senators re S. 727 (you have two) and ask them to pass these bills.