Congress has lifted a ban on funding horse meat inspections, paving the way for horses to be slaughtered and butchered for human consumption, reported the Argus Leader.
The 2006 ban prevented the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using federal funds to inspect horse processing plants, which is required by law for exportation. Horse meat is considered a delicacy in some European and Asian countries, reported USA Today.
The ban was removed in a spending bill President Obama signed into law November 18 to aid government funds through mid-December, the Argus Leader reported. In 2010, taxpayers spent $37 million to stow nearly 40,000 animals in pens and pastures, the Bureau of Land Management told the Wall Street Journal.
Before the closing of horse processing facilities in the United States, the country slaughtered more than 100,000 horses a year, states the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Website. In recent years, horses have been crammed onto trailers and sent across borders to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. “In 2007, 35,000 horses were sent to Canada for slaughter, a 41 percent increase from the previous year, while horse exports to Mexico have more than tripled,” states the NCSL wesbite.
"It's a $65 million industry in America—it was before it was banned," said Chris Crawford, the spokesman for Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Georgia, who is chairman of the House agriculture spending subcommittee, reported USA Today.
Proponents of processing horse meat say horse slaughterhouses could be up and running within a month, the Argus Leader reported.
Five Tribes in Idaho and central and eastern Oregon and Washington, who are affected by an over abundance of free-roaming horses trampling their rangeland forage that is needed to feed livestock and wildlife and to retain soil in place, have formed the Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition (NTHC) so that they have a voice in how to control the skyrocketing horse population. The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of the Colville and the Shoshone Bannock Nation all see slaughtering horses and processing horse meat as a viable solution to the problem.