They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? But for Dinner?

Debate has reignited in Tennessee and elsewhere on allowing the killing of horses for human consumption after a change in a federal funding bill to permit equine slaughterhouses, reports Anne Paine. But then again, apparently nothing is going to happen at the state level.
Slaughterhouses have been banned in this country because of specific wording in the federal budget each year that had forbidden the U.S. Department of Agriculture from spending money to inspect the facilities. Without the USDA’s stamp of approval, such slaughterhouses cannot operate.
But the language that prevented the USDA from using any of its budget to inspect slaughterhouses was removed a few weeks ago from a funding bill that has passed, giving hope to state Rep. Frank S. Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains.
He says the facilities are a humane way to deal with horses that otherwise might starve or be abused. A local animal rights activist responded with outrage.
“We’re all very distressed,” said Laura Turner, a longtime Williamson County animal rights supporter.
“The U.S. taxpayers will be paying the USDA to inspect meat that will be going overseas as a high-end delicacy,” she said. “This was buried in a big omnibus-type bill.”
Niceley said the change makes sense.
“Any real horse person realizes you’ve got to have an end-of-life facility,” said Niceley, a Republican from Knoxville whose family has owned horses for more than a century.
Last year, he filed a bill to allow such facilities in Tennessee, but it failed. Even if it had passed, federal funding for the USDA inspections would still have been required.
Niceley said he’s unlikely to refile his bill because of the recent action taken on the federal level.
“I’m not sure we need it now,” he said.

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