Bill to Ban Horse Slaughter Introduced by Florida Congressman

Matt O'Hern
Horses would be protected from slaughter if a bipartisan-crafted bill is passed and signed into law.Photo byCongressman Vern Buchanan's office

In a bipartisan effort, Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan (R) and Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D) introduced the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act. If enacted, the act would permanently ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption and prohibit the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses to be sold overseas. Companion legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Sens. Menendez (D-N.J.) and Graham (R-S.C.).

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in America,” Buchanan said. “As co-chairman of the Animal Protection Caucus, I look forward to continuing to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to protect these majestic creatures.”

Schakowsky, who has worked on protecting horses for years, explained her work behind the bill.

"Horses have a special place in our nation's history and in many Americans' hearts," she said.v"They embody the spirit of America, and it is time to end the brutal and dangerous practice of slaughtering these creatures for human consumption... I am so proud to partner with Congressman Vern Buchanan to reintroduce the SAFE Act once again. Our bipartisan bill would amend the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 to prohibit the slaughter of equines for human consumption. Horses are not raised for human consumption. As a proud animal lover, we owe it to our horse companions to protect their welfare."

According to a release from Buchanan, in 2017, Buchanan worked with the late-Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) to get the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, which made it illegal to slaughter, transport, possess, purchase, sell or donate cats and dogs for human consumption. The SAFE Act builds upon that legislation by adding horses, donkeys and burros to the prohibition. Although the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption is currently illegal in the United States, the ban is temporary and subject to annual congressional review and no federal law exists to prohibit the transport of horses across America’s borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.

The lawmakers hope to include the SAFE Act as part of the 2023 Farm Bill when it is considered by Congress later this year.

In 2022, approximately 20,000 American horses were exported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses, according to Animal Welfare Institute. Those horses are butchered and then transported overseas for consumption in Japan, Italy and other countries.

The SAFE Act has received the support of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the ASPCA, Return to Freedom and the Animal Wellness Institute.

Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said, “The pipeline to slaughter is an open grave for the horses it carries off, not just a terrible cruelty but a national heartache. It’s time to saddle up and end their journey to hell. No animal more deserving of our kindness has ever suffered such a rotten fate. Horse slaughter for human consumption is a ruinous policy not merely for its callous indifference to a faithful species but for its blight upon our national character. We hope that legislators in both chambers and both parties will lend their support to Representatives Buchanan and Schakowsky and Senators Menendez and Graham in their efforts to pass the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act, and vote this appalling practice out of existence.”

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Matt O’Hern’s journalism experience includes political news reporting for various organizations and news publications in Florida since 2005. O’Hern graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL with a degree in journalism.

Orlando, FL

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