USDA Says Slaughter Plants Wishful Thinking

Setting the Record Straight on Congress’ Lifting of the Ban on Horse Slaughter

WASHINGTON, (USDA) – There has been a lot of talk in the past week about Congress’ lifting of the ban prohibiting federal funding for the inspection of horses,

which prevented the slaughter of horses for human consumption for

the past five years.

The issue is understandably a sensitive and emotional one for everyone who loves these majestic animals, but it is important that

the discussion be tempered with the facts.

While Congress has technically lifted the ban, horse processing will not resume anytime in the near term. Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, horses are an amenable species, which means that horse meat cannot be shipped or sold for human consumption without inspection.

To date, there have been no requests that the Department initiate the authorization process for any horse processing operation in the United States. In the two states where horse processing took place prior to the Congressional ban, Illinois and Texas, there are laws in place prohibiting the slaughter of horses.

Even if these laws were changed, any processing facility will still need to satisfy a significant number of requirements, such as obtaining a federal grant of inspection, conducting a hazard analysis, and developing a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan prior to the processing of any animals.

8 comments for “USDA Says Slaughter Plants Wishful Thinking

  1. Denise
    December 12, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    First, other than additional religious requirements (of which Korea doesn’t seem to qualify) of ritual slaughter…USDA inspectors (or state inspectors through a Memorandum of Agreement/Instruction/Understanding with USDA) are required to be on the kill floor. The US meat inspection act does not allow purveyors to pay for their inspections.

    Now, data of costs to inspect the last three foreign owned, US based (because that is what the MARKET DEMAND would support) slaughterhouses when open was approximately 5 mil.

    Either way, it doesn’t discuss food safety of equines from a production records and meds perspective because USDA does not test for those on a routine basis. They did do a specific test study and then stopped. It is part of the loophole language of our food system and the disconnect that US equines play in that system.

    The recent ag appropriations bill, signed by Obama reduced the USDA budget, did not authorize funds for US horsemeat human consumption slaughter, but did not prohibit it. In other words, USDA Sec Vilsack could very well use “discretionary” funds to fund a plant(s) for horsemeat human consumption slaughter.

    And yes, that 5 mil for inspection seemed excessive to me; maybe that is for the four-five year period of the USDA budget process…that is different for the release of funds by Congress and disbursement of USDA funds by the Sec…plus, Congress has been living off of continuing resolutions (CRs), not a budget since 2009.

    • Denise
      December 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      This reply was for Joe…how it ended up here is beyond me.

      And there are USDA inspectors that are still part of livestock and equine export and import inspection at POE/E (to include state ag inspectors that are sometimes subsidized by Feds)….no, there is no HCHS inspection/inspectors in the US currently. However, equines at other nonhuman use facilities are required to use inspectors for specific functions; not at the frequency required by human food plants.

    • Joe
      December 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm


      My point in mentioning the Korean owned plants using USDA meat inspections is only to point out that this is an expense to us.The finished product is all shipped overseas.. The anti slaughter always say what a waste of money when only the foreigners eat the meat. Same case here with the beef. Now as far as you mention that our inspections are maybe not adequate. That is for the foreign countries to decide, not the anti slaughter people. Just what gives America the right to tell the world what to eat and how to slaughter the animals. We always need to use safe handling just like all other livestock. The same trucking, handling and slaughtering the same as the other livestock. Same goes for drug withdrawl time when used like cattle… JOE

      • Denise
        December 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm

        No to everything you stated; most especially that antislaughter for equines is just that it is a waste of money to inspect meats that is consumed by foreigners.

        We are concerned about handling and drug protocols…there are not any drug protocols for US equines HERE.

        We don’t have enough inspectors for traditional livestock for US/us and that which is exported, when acceptable to the foreign receiving country (Korea won’t accept bovine meat from certain animals mostly based on age).

        When it is done here, they (import countries) can require the purveyor to have certain extra limitations, but can’t take away from our standards of inspection and handling.

        And I told you, purveyors and the importing countries can’t PAY for USDA inspections because it is against the law. I believe Cavel in IL tried this and it was denied by the Federal Courts.

        And no…it is NOT the same.

      • admin
        December 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm

        Joe, again what you are suggesting is illegal. Are you sending animals to slaughter that have had bute and other chemicals?

        the Editor

  2. Louie Cocroft
    December 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    AND the BLM said there would be no more roundups in 2011……

  3. Denise
    December 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Two problems USDA with your statement:

    (1) No requests yet…to date???? Doesn’t mean they aren’t coming. You folks have a big problem with inspectors and funding. You have been cut again and when that request(s) comes…where is the money going to come from? My food system and supply? Last check, 5 mil to run just inspection for US based, foreign owned equine slaughter plants…where USDA and FDA? Where will the funds come from? and,

    (2) Your agency did a poor job of enforcing equine slaughter when it was here and still with transport and holding lots along the borders and ports of entry/exit because we still have equine slaughter in the US. What is your plan? Based on past performance, I’d say there is NO plan….just business as usual.

    • Joe
      December 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm


      Are you saying that it cost $5 MIL per year for 3 plants for inspectors? They still are on the payroll since the plants closed, just how much do these people get paid to inspect 3 plants? We know there is government waste, but what you are saying doesn’t seem possible. There was less than 100,000 head per year slaughtered. Now lets look at 2 plants that will be owned by Koreans slaughtering 125,000 cattle per year and all of that meat going overseas. I think that if meat regardless what species, the foreign country should pay for the inspections. We have pork and poultry that is also going overseas, maybe the same should apply there.. JOE

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