Cross-posted from The Hill
Written by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Horse and burro protection occupies a very special place in the big idea known as “animal welfare.” Wild horses embody the Western spirit that has animated our national conversation about protecting animals and open spaces. Horses and burros form some of the strongest bonds with humans found anywhere in the animal kingdom.
There are really two issues when it comes to horse slaughter: the private domestic market for horse meat and federal management of wild horses. The former, although it’s been shrinking, is certainly not gone. The latter remains a major issue for lawmakers, federal agencies, activists, and everyone else who cares about how we preserve and protect our wildlife and public land. Both need more congressional attention.
When it comes to the private market, local officials have long been ahead of federal policy. The last three horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil were closed by state law enforcement in Texas and a 2007 court order in Illinois. California overwhelmingly banned horse slaughter over a decade ago. This is all good news.
Still, a permanent federal ban has never been passed. The House passed the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act in 2006 — and I was proud to vote for it — but the Senate failed to follow through.
That didn’t stop some of us from pushing forward: the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, for instance, would have mandated a prison term of up to three years for possessing, shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering or receiving any horse meat for human consumption. That bill never became law, but it kept the conversation focused on setting meaningful standards, where it needs to be.
Despite the domestic market shrinking, eating horse meat remains legal at the federal level. Congress should pass a bill that outlaws horse slaughter once and for all. There’s no real argument against it, unless horse meat is your business. Read full article >>
Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is the ranking member on the House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee.