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House Takes Up Bill to Ban Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption

Administration, cattle groups come out in opposition to bill.

The House is scheduled to vote first thing this morning on H.R. 503, a bill that prohibits interstate commerce in horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption.

If passed, the bill would go to the U.S. Senate for consideration. If passed there, it would mean an immediate, permanent ban on the "shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, or other purposes." There are three horse-slaughtering facilities in the United States, which ship the resulting products overseas where diners consider the meat a cultural delicacy.

On July 27, the House Committee on Agriculture overwhelming voted, 37-3, to unfavorably report the bill to the Floor with the recommendation that it not pass. House Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte strongly opposes H.R. 503 and will speak to that effect tomorrow, according to a statement from the House Agriculture Committee.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, R-CALFUSA and Ag Secretary Mike Johanns also voiced opposition to the bill.

"We want to protect the rights of horse owners to manage their animals and other livestock in a responsible and respectful way. Regardless of whether some people feel that the processing of horses is unacceptable, the decisions about equine welfare and this issue must be based on scientific facts and solid animal husbandry. Legislation based solely on emotion is a slippery slope not only for animal agriculture, but for all issues that Congress addresses," NCBA wrote Goodlatte.

In Johanns' letter to Goodlatte, he explains that each year approximately 100,000 horses are either slaughtered in the United States for export overseas for human consumption, or exported to Canada or Mexico for the same purposed. Johanns stated that USDA believes horse slaughter in the United States is a safe and humane practice and does not support the amendment. To read Johanns full letter, visit

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