Monday, July 8, 2013

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Horse Slaughter

On July 2, 2013, several animal welfare groups and individuals, in an effort to ban horse slaughter, filed a complaint against USDA in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. The suit was filed in response USDA’s grant of inspection to two horse slaughterhouses earlier this year. In 2007, Congress effectively banned horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. when funding for salaries of inspection personnel was eliminated. Without the inspection personnel, the required inspections could not be performed and horsemeat was not eligible for USDA approval. In 2011, Congress opened the door for horse slaughter in the U.S. by restoring funding for inspection personnel.

Plaintiffs in the suit are The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescues, Marin Humane Society, Horses for Life Foundation, Return to Freedom and five individuals (one from Missouri and four from New Mexico). Plaintiffs allege USDA violated the National Environmental Protection (NEPA) and Administrative Procedure Act by providing a grant of inspection to the new plants and establishing a new drug residue testing plan without conducting  an environmental review and producing an environmental impact statement. In the Complaint, Plaintiffs request the court declare the grants and drug residue testing plan unlawful, set aside the grants and enjoin the USDA from granting further inspections and from implementing new drug residue testing plans without an adequate NEPA review. The case is docketed at CV-13-3034.

Until horse slaughter is banned, USDA must provide grants of inspection if a horse slaughterhouse meets inspection requirements. Recently, the House and the Senate voted to cut funding which would eliminate horse slaughter in 2014. In addition, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would not only ban horse slaughter in the U.S. but also ban the shipment of horses across the border for slaughter, was introduced by the House, H.R. 1094 and the Senate, S. 541, in March. 
For more information on this topic, please see USDA’s and The Humane Society of the United States’ websites.
Written by Clara E. Conklin - Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
July 8, 2013

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