Back Door Route to Blocking the Processing of Horses in the United States

AWC Press Release  – For Immediate Release

June 2, 2013

Contact: Animal Welfare Council  at       

Back Door Route to Blocking the Processing of Horses in U.S.

Legislation and regulation introduced to date that bans processing horses for human consumption lacks provisions for viable solutions for consequences to the horses that would otherwise be processed. These consequences include, among others, increased suffering for the horses through abandonment, and neglect, and economic hardship for the animals’ owners, the local governments burdened with caring for unwanted horses, and the overwhelmed horse rescues and sanctuaries. Proponents of such a ban are working directly via legislative proposals that overtly ban equine slaughter, and indirectly via the “back door” of federal budget manipulation that would curtail the USDA inspection of plants processing horsemeat for human consumption. Neither approach acknowledges, accepts responsibility for, or provides solutions for the consequences of the ban.

The horse industry recognizes the humane and economic aspects of the unwanted horse problem, and it is actively engaged in work both to resolve the present dilemma and to develop sustainable solutions. New programs are being deployed to educate horse owners to “own responsibly,” one key avenue to preventing more cases of unwanted horses. However, most in the industry recognize that humane equine slaughter remains a critical component to resolving the problem. Prior to enacting any ban, through any means, lawmakers must address humane alternatives for the maintenance or disposition of unwanted equines in numbers that equate to those currently being sold for processing. Without such alternatives, the ban on slaughter—carried out under the putative banner of “humane” interests—will have entirely the opposite effect on the very animals it purports to assist. 

“Back Door Route to Blocking the Processing of Horses in U.S.” is a research-based article commissioned by the Animal Welfare Council; it is suitable for broad publication and covers the philosophical  and applied implications of the legislative and regulatory approaches to the slaughter ban. The consequences will be critical to the future of the horse industry and will likely carry over to affect other livestock producers and users in the recreation, entertainment and agricultural/food industries.

See the full article

For more information on the topic, to learn what you can do to help unwanted horses, including contacting lawmakers, and to help increase viable alternatives to equine slaughter, please visit the Unwanted Horse Coalition website at