A horse slaughter ban was vacated by a US federal appeals court. By vacating the ban, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an emergency injunction that banned the slaughter of horses. The decision will allow companies in Iowa. New Mexico, and Missouri, to slaughter horses and process the meat for consumption.
The ruling is part of an ongoing controversy. In 2006, the US Congress eliminated funding for inspection of horse slaughter facilities. By eliminating the funding, the government essentially banned the slaughter of horses and processing of horse meat. Although the funding was eventually restored in 2011, the USDA did not approve any permits until 2013.
An appeal filed by Front Range Equine Rescue and the Humane Society of the United States led to further delay. The organizations argued that the facilities failed to follow provisions outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act.
Although the appeals court agreed to an emergency injunction, the horse slaughter ban was later vacated. As reported by Reuters, the court decided the humane organizations “failed to meet their burden” to prove the injunction was necessary.
The decision will allow the US Department of Agriculture to provide inspection services to Rains Natural Meats, Responsible Transportation, and Valley Meat Company.
Horse meat cannot be sold for human consumption in the United States. However, the three facilities are approved to export the meat to other countries. Horse meat is commonly consumed in China, Mexico, and Russia. Additionally, it is often used to feed zoo animals.
Those supporting the facilities explain that horse overpopulation is an ongoing problem. With persistent drought conditions, horses are simply starving to death. Animal rights organizations, Native American tribes, and ranchers, are working together to develop humane solutions. Unfortunately, overpopulation remains a serious issue.
ABC News reports that a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office shows an increase in “horse abuse and abandonment” since the horse slaughter ban began. The Humane Society of the United States contends that slaughtering horses is “barbaric” and is “an issue of national importance.”
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