Horse Slaughter Legal Again; What Does That Mean?


Contrary to popular belief, horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States has never been banned. About seven years ago Congress opted to not fund the USDA meat inspectors for equine slaughter plants, and they would not allow the plants to pay for inspectors. Thus equine slaughter was halted for a time.

Congress restored funding to meat inspectors for equine slaughter facilities about two years ago. However, lawsuits and various appeals from humane groups and private industry stopped the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption until last Friday, when the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals said slaughter could resume.

There are still attempts in Congress to have the slaughter of horses for human consumption banned. However, once meat inspectors are back at equine slaughter facilities, horses can be processed. There are several facilities across the country awaiting the start of the processing.

In the meantime, below are the most recent numbers from the USDA for the export of horses to Mexico (which, along with Canada, is where horses go from the U.S. to be slaughtered for human consumption). There has been a drop in total numbers of horses exported to Mexico for slaughter this year versus last year: through Dec. 7, 2013, there have been 97,615 horses shipped to Mexico explicitly destined for slaughter. In 2012 through that time there had been 104,335. If the rate keeps up, the number of U.S. horses that were shipped to Mexico for slaughter will end up over 100,000 for 2013.

U.S. to Mexico Export Report

Credit: USDA

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