HORSE ON THE HILL UPDATE
Washington DC — On May 22, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill (S.2389). This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2015 fiscal year (October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015).
The bill contains several provisions that impact equine health, safety and welfare, including a provision that will prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities necessary for domestic horse meat to be exported for human consumption.
A provision in the consolidated appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 prohibits the USDA from using federal funds to pay for inspections at horse slaughter plants in the U.S. and ends September 30, 2014.
President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2015 requests that Congress forbid the USDA from using any of its funds for such inspections.
Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered an amendment to the FY2015 U.S. Agriculture Appropriations bill prohibiting the USDA from funding inspections at horse slaughter facilities. It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 18-12.
This amendment prevents horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S.
Similar action is expected in the U.S. House of Representatives.
HORSE PROTECTION ACT
The FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill also provides funding of $705,000 for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act which makes it illegal to sore a horse, an increase of $8,000 over the FY2014 budget.
The FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill provides funding of $872.4 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
APHIS is a USDA agency responsible for conducting regulatory and control programs to protect and improve the health of plants and animals. This includes responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks. It sets funding for Equine, Cervid, and Small Ruminant health at $19.6 million, an increase of $117,000 over the FY2014 budget.
The Committee will now send the FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill to the full Senate for approval.
While this is welcome news, and keeps horse slaughter plants from re-opening on U.S. soil, it does not keep U.S. horses from being sent across the border to Mexico and Canada for the purposes of slaughter. The SAFE Act, currently pending before Congress, closes this loophole.