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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

Pat Raia reports in The Horse.com an appropriations bill that does not specifically deny USDA funding to conduct inspections of horsemeat for human consumption could allow horse processing to resume in the U.S. The Fiscal Year 2012 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 2112), or the so-called “Mini-bus Bill,” establishes 2012 budgets for the Department of Agriculture and several other federal departments through September 2012.

Prior to 2005 USDA personnel carried out horsemeat food safety inspections at U.S. horse processing plants. In 2006 Congress voted to strip the USDA of funding for horsemeat inspections. USDA personnel continued to conduct those inspections on a fee-for-service basis until 2007 when a federal court judge ruled against the arrangement. The combination of the funding prohibition and the court decision resulted in the decline of the horse processing industry in the U.S.

Language stripping the USDA of horsemeat inspection funding did not appear in the original fiscal 2012 House Agricultural Appropriations bill when it was introduced earlier this year. However, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment prohibiting the use of federal dollars to fund USDA horsemeat inspections. No such provision was contained in the Senate’s version of the Appropriations bill.

After passage in their respective legislative houses, both the House and Senate bills were referred to a conference committee. The resulting consolidated bill did not contain the defunding language. The committee recommended the bill for passage, then forwarded to the full House and Senate for vote. On Nov. 17 the full House passed H.R. 2112 by 298-121 vote. The Senate also passed the bill by a 70 to 30 vote. President Barak Obama signed the bill into law on Nov. 18. As a result, the USDA could conduct horsemeat inspections at least until September 2012.

Wyoming state lawmaker Sue Wallis, who successfully sponsored legislation facilitating horse processing plant development in that state, said the funding bill would reinvigorate the horse-related economy.

“Obviously we are glad that Congress stripped the unfair, back door annual riders that prevented the responsible, regulated and humane processing of horses,” Wallis said. “We look forward to working with companies across the nation who will be filling this much needed service, and doing everything we can to ensure that the operations are run with integrity and diligence.”

By contrast, Lauren Silverman Simon, Federal Legislative Specialist, Government Affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, said the funding bill’s passage will inspire horse processing opponents to pressure lawmakers to pass comprehensive anti-slaughter legislation.

“Allowing federal funds to be used to inspect horse-slaughter plants represents a step backward for horses,” Silverman Simon said. “I think the 2012 Agricultural Appropriations bill helps to put pressure on lawmakers to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.”

 

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