A Republican senator from Oklahoma has proposed a late amendment to the omnibus spending bill before Congress this week in a bid to clear the path for US horse slaughter plants.
Jim Inhofe proposes striking out the language that blocks the United States Department of Agriculture from inspecting horse slaughter plants, effectively banning such facilities.
However, horse advocacy groups have voiced their confidence that changes to the bill would seem unlikely to succeed at this late stage.
Inhofe, in proposing the amendment, said: “I am very concerned that the omnibus appropriations bill includes a provision that blocks government inspection of horse processing facilities, effectively shutting down this industry.
“Without these facilities, aging horses are often neglected or forced to endure cruel conditions as they are transported to processing facilities across the border.
“This provision is counterproductive to what animal rights activists are hoping to achieve through this provision. That is why I am offering an amendment to strike the provision, which would reinstate these inspections.”
Inhofe and Congressman Markwayne Mullin, another Oklahoma Republican, plan to introduce standalone legislation on this issue if the amendment is not adopted.
The last three horse slaughter plants on US soil closed in 2007 under state laws, with Congress defunding required inspections which made it impossible for them to open in other states. This remained the case until 2011, when the defunding language was removed by a small conference subcommittee from an agriculture bill.
The new bill reinstates the language, but goes one step further. It carries a stipulation that funding cannot be restored unless the Food and Drug Administration makes a determination that meat from American horses can be made safe for human consumption.