The crisis has forced sale prices down for horses and opened the doors to companies who purchase unwanted horses wholesale and then ship them to Mexico or Canada where they can be legally slaughtered. Proponents to horse slaughter operations in the U.S. argue the opportunity for animal cruelty runs high when horses are packed into trailers and trucks and shipped great distances to international borders. They say many animals die in route, and those that survive are often subjected to worse slaughter conditions than existed at U.S. processing facilities.

Some Native American tribes have also complained that feral horses, released by owners into the wilderness because of a lack of feed or resources, have decimated tribal grazing lands and a few have asked federal officials for compensation as a result of the damages.

In 2006, the last year horses could be legally slaughtered in the United States, nearly 143,000 horses were legally processed. But by some estimates, more than that number have been abandoned to die of starvation or transported to foreign destinations where they faced inhumane slaughter practices.

While the House Committee action stops inspections of horse slaughter facilities, opponents to the move argue it does nothing to bring a solution to the bigger issue of what to do to protect the animals and the horse industry at large that has suffered from a lack of policy action on the issue.

Concerning funding levels approved by the House Appropriations Committee, the bill provides less money for USDA overall, $1.3 billion lower than the current fiscal year and $516 million below President Obama’s budget request.

The $19.45 billion funding bill provides a modest boost to food safety, an increase of $27 million, while drug safety activities were increased by $2.5 million. But the Congressional Budget Office estimated that FDA would need about $1.4 billion in additional funding over five years to properly implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The funding bill approved by the Committee must now go before the full House where it will likely be subject to a number of new amendments.


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