December 7, 2011
Ms. Penny Ronning
Thank you for contacting me regarding the slaughter of horses. I appreciate hearing from you.
I have always worked hard to ensure the humane treatment of animals, and I will continue to do so in the future. However, it is important that horse slaughter legislation not place any unnecessary burdens on ranchers and other horse owners, or put horses at even greater risk of harm or cruel treatment. That’s why as part of the 2009 Agriculture bill, I commissioned a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the impacts of the current restriction on federal dollars to inspect horse processing facilities in the United States.
The study, released on June 22, 2011, showed that horse prices and sales in U.S. have declined since the ban came into effect. In addition, the ban has not resulted in a significant drop in the number of slaughters, but rather, has shifted the market to Canada and Mexico. Overall, the welfare of horses has declined as they are being transported greater distances to be slaughtered in places where they are not protected by U.S. humane slaughter laws. In addition, a rise in cases of abuse, abandonment, and neglect have strained state, local, and tribal horse welfare resources. If you would like to read more about the report, it can be accessed on the GAO website at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-228 under report number GAO-11-228.
On November 18, 2011, the President signed into law H.R. 2112, which ended the ban on domestic horse slaughter. I supported ending the ban. You can read more about my support of this bill at http://baucus.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=754. With the passage of H.R. 2112, we can now fight to restore the jobs shipped to Canada and Mexico as a result of this ban. We can also make sure that injured and sick horses are not abandoned or subject to inhumane treatment.
Thanks again for getting in touch. Please contact me should you have any further questions or concerns on this or any other matter of importance to you. You can also visit my website at http://baucus.senate.gov for more information on current issues that affect Montanans.