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Thursday, June 30, 2011



Senator Points to New Report that Finds Horses, Economy Worse Off under Ban
(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus today urged the end of a ban on U.S. horse slaughter plants after a new report concluded the ban actually hurts the American economy and the horses themselves. Baucus required the report to be conducted by the independent, non-partisan Government Accountability Office as part of a 2009 Agriculture bill, because of concerns that ending the practice was harming Montana’s ranchers and horse welfare.
“The ban just doesn’t make any sense, and this report proves it. Injured or sick horses are having to suffer even more by traveling long distances only to be put down in places where they aren’t protected by American humane standards. And farmers and ranchers are suffering from fewer sales and lower prices, while we send jobs to Canada and Mexico. That’s not right for our economy and it’s not right for our horses,” Baucus said.
The Accountability Office’s findings, show the ban on U.S. horse slaughter plants has caused a drop in American horse prices and sales and the market has shifted to Canada and Mexico. As a result, overall horse welfare has declined, putting a strain on state, local, and tribal animal welfare resources, and the Accountability Office noted a rise in cases of horse abandonment, abuse, and neglect since the ban was instated. The report also notes that U.S. horses, often suffering from injury or illness, are being transported greater distances to be slaughtered in places where they are not protected by U.S. humane slaughter protections.
Congress has enacted a de facto ban on U.S. horse slaughter since 2006 in the Agriculture Appropriations bills by not allowing U.S. Department of Agriculture funds to be used to inspect the plants. Because the plants cannot ship meat across state lines without being inspected, the ban on inspection has resulted in a ban on domestic horse slaughter. In 2009, Baucus included a provision in the fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill requiring the Accountability office to perform the study released last week. In light of the results, he is calling on the chairman of the appropriations subcommittees on agriculture to review the report and end the ban.
The full Government Accountability Office report, “Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter,” is available HERE. Text of the letter Baucus sent to the chairman of agriculture subcommittees on the Appropriations Committee is available HERE and below.
June 28, 2011
The Honorable Herb Kohl, Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Roy Blunt, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
Dear Chairman Kohl and Ranking Member Blunt:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the annual restrictions on United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) use of appropriated funds to inspect horses at, or in transit to, domestic processing facilities. In September 2009, I wrote to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging the inclusion of language in the final Fiscal Year 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill which directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an investigation on the status of horse welfare in the United States since the cessation of horse slaughter operations in 2007.
As you know, GAO just released the report Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter. As expected, it revealed multiple challenges. For one, GAO's analysis reveals that U.S. horses are being transported longer distances to be slaughtered - to places where they are not covered by U.S. humane slaughter protections.
The GAO analysis also revealed multiple unintended consequences due to cessation of slaughter in the U.S. The change in policy has completely changed the domestic horse processing market and has led to an increase of exports in Mexico and Canada. GAO's report discovered U.S. horse exports to Mexico for slaughter increased 660 percent from 2006 to 2010, and horse sales and prices have decreased in the U.S. As a result, overall horse welfare has decreased, putting a strain on state and local government, tribal, and animal welfare organization resources. Furthermore, cases of horse abandonment, abuse, and neglect have increased.
Animal welfare laws have become more stringent over the past 20 years, as many have begun to realize how important it is to treat animals humanely. I firmly believe that animals should be treated in a humane and decent manner; and because of that belief GAO's report must be used to reexamine the annual restriction Congress imposes on domestic horse processing facilities. It is imperative that we find a way to humanely deal with unwanted horses, and stringent regulation of domestic horse slaughter facilities should remain an option.
As the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee begins work on the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, I urge you to use the GAO analysis and reconsider the flawed policy which has had negative consequences on rural America and many horses welfare.

Max Baucus

U.S. Senator
Contact: Kate Downen (406) 224-5056/Jennifer Donohue (202) 224-2651/Kathy Weber (406) 657-5915

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