Lawmakers target horse meat trade

Lawmakers target horse meat trade
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Lawmakers are pushing new legislation that would ban horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. and prevent horses from being shipped to Canada and Mexico for human consumption.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act introduced Thursday from Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Graham: Trump will 'end North Korea’s threat to the American homeland' in his first term Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting MORE (R-S.C.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump close the deal with North Korea? Senate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo Poll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger MORE (D-N.J.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseHouse easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump Senate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill Dems expand 2018 message to ‘draining the swamp’ MORE (D-R.I.), and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Trump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Dem rep to launch discharge petition to force net neutrality vote in House MORE (R-Maine), would implement a federal ban on the slaughtering of horses for food.

“The gruesome practice of slaughtering horses for food has no place in the United States, and it’s well past time for Congress to say once and for all that horse meat is not what’s for dinner,” Menendez told The Hill.

“Horses are routinely treated with drugs that are not fit for human consumption and do not belong in our nation’s food supply. Our bipartisan legislation will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses while protecting families from toxic horse meat and safeguarding the reputation of the U.S. food industry worldwide,” he added.

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A companion bill was introduced in the House earlier this year by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerWhiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting Russia, China eclipse US in hypersonic missiles, prompting fears Water has experienced a decade of bipartisan success MORE (D-Ore.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).

Animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, have hailed the bills and urged lawmakers to quickly pass them.

“Americans don’t round up homeless dogs and cats, run them through a slaughterhouse, and then ship them to foreign consumers for profit,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told The Hill.

“That’s essentially what we’re doing to horses, and it runs against our better instincts and betrays our long bond with the domesticated animal who helped us settle the nation.”

Currently there are no working horse slaughterhouses in the United States, due primarily to a decade-long ban on the U.S. Department of Agriculture paying for horse meat inspections.

A House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill for the USDA last month, though, that would lift the ban on horse slaughter and allow USDA inspectors. While there's no indication that horse slaughterhouses would return to the U.S., lawmakers still want to crack down on the horse meat trade.

For now, animal rights advocates are focusing on ending the trade of shipping horses abroad for slaughter. Each year, more than 100,000 horses from the U.S. are shipped over the borders and slaughtered for human consumption, according to the Humane Society.

“Buyers don’t ‘euthanize’ old horses,” Pacelle said in a statement. “They buy up young, healthy horses, often by misrepresenting their intentions, and inhumanely kill them to sell the meat to Europe and Japan.”

The SAFE Act would also amend the Food and Drug Act to classify horse parts as an unsafe food additive for humans. Lawmakers said horses raised in the U.S. are often treated with drugs lethal to humans.