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Illinois Legislature Votes on Horse Slaughter



(May 16, 2007) -- The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, applauded today’s landslide vote in the Illinois Senate to ban the slaughter of American horses in Illinois for human consumption overseas. The Senate approved H.B. 1711 late Wednesday by a more than two-to-one margin, a vote of 39-16.  The House had previously approved the bill by a vote of 74-41, and it now goes to Gov. Blagojevich for his signature.

 

The HSUS thanked Sen. John Cullerton (D-6), Sen. Carole Pankau (R-23), and Sen. Linda Holmes (D-42) for speaking in favor of the bill today and shepherding this important animal welfare policy through to passage.  Gov. Blagojevich has advocated for a ban on horse slaughter, and is expected to sign the bill into law.

 

“The horse slaughter industry is on its last legs, and now their doors will most likely be shut permanently in Illinois,” said HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle. “Americans want our horses protected from cruelty and abuse, not served up on French and Belgian food plates.”

 

The Cavel International horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Ill., was the only active plant in the country still killing horses for human consumption. It was shut down last month when a federal court ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture could not provide inspections of horse meat, but re-opened when the court of appeals decided to allow Cavel to resume slaughtering horses while their appeal makes its way through the courts.  U.S. Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-9/Ill.) is leading the effort in the U.S. Congress to pass a separate bill, H.R. 503, which would ban horse slaughter for human consumption nationwide, and the export of horses for slaughter outside the U.S.

 

Click here to see the roll call vote: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory/95/senate/09500HB1711_05162007_101000T.pdf


Facts

  • According to the USDA, 100,800 American horses were slaughtered in three foreign-owned slaughter houses in 2006. Another 30,000 were sent to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.
  • In 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate each approved funding limitation amendments barring USDA from using funds to conduct horse slaughter inspections. 
  • In response, USDA issued special new rules to circumvent Congress' decision to de-fund horse slaughter by having the slaughter plants to pay for inspections themselves.
  • The Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups filed suit in February 2006 challenging the USDA's decision.
  • The district court found that USDA violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to conduct any review of the adverse impacts of horse slaughter on the surrounding communities before implementing the new rule.
  • The HSUS was joined in the suit by residents who suffered the consequences of living next to a horse slaughterhouse, including "blood spills and overflows that clog up the local wastewater treatment plant and septic systems," "smell[s] so bad that we cannot open our windows," and "horses' cries [that] wake me up in the night and upset me so much that I have trouble sleeping."
  • The court characterized the USDA's environmental review of these impacts as "deafening silence," and concluded "there is no evidence whatsoever that the agency head – or any USDA official – even contemplated…environmental effect[s]" of the agency's actions.
  • The funding limitation on inspections for horse slaughter was included in the Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which carries over through September 30, 2007 because of a Continuing Resolution passed by Congress.
  • The plaintiffs in the case include The HSUS, The Fund for Animals, the Doris Day Animal League, Animal Welfare Institute, Society for Animal Protective Legislation, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They are represented by the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal and by counsel with the Animal Protection Litigation section of The HSUS.

Timeline

  • May 16, 2007 – The Illinois Senate approves legislation to ban horse slaughter by a vote of 39-16.
  • May 8, 2007 – The Senate Public Health Committee approves legislation to ban horse slaughter by a vote of 7-0. 
  • April 18, 2007 – The Illinois House of Representatives approves H.B. 1711 to ban the slaughter of American horses in Illinois for human consumption overseas, by nearly a two-to-one margin, a vote of 74-41.
  • March 29, 2007- A federal district court ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop inspecting horsemeat at the Cavel International slaughter plant, effectively closing the last operating horse slaughtering operation in the United States. 
  • March 21, 2007 – A committee of the Illinois legislature approves legislation to ban horse slaughter by a vote of 8-4. 
  • March 20, 2007 – The HSUS files a notice of intent to sue the Cavel horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Ill. for dozens of violations of the Clean Water Act. 
  • January 17, 2007 – Legislation to ban the slaughter of American horses nationwide, S. 311 and H.R. 503, is introduced by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Reps. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), John Spratt (D-S.C.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
  • January 19, 2007 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholds a 1949 Texas state law barring the sale of horsemeat for human consumption in that state. Appeals from the slaughterhouses were rejected on March 5.
  • September 7, 2006 – U.S. House of Representatives passes H.R. 503, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, by a vote of 263-146.  The 109th Congress adjourns before the Senate can consider the bill.
  • May 19, 2006 – U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passes the Rahall-Whitfield-Sweeney-Spratt Amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill to restore federal protections from commercial sale and slaughter to wild horses and burros. The provision is stripped in conference from the final bill.
  • February 14, 2006 – The HSUS and other animal welfare groups and residents file suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the USDA "fee-for-service" rule.
  • February 7, 2006 – USDA announces its intention to circumvent the Congressional funding limitation by implementing a "fee-for-service" rule to continue inspections of horsemeat.
  • November 10, 2005 – President Bush signs the Agriculture Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2006, including the funding limitation on horsemeat inspections. The horse slaughter provision is scheduled to take effect 120 days later.
  • October 25, 2005 – House-Senate conference committee completes its work on Agriculture Appropriations Bill, retaining the funding limitation on horsemeat inspections.
  • September 20, 2005 – U.S. Senate approves the Ensign-Byrd Amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill to prohibit the use of tax dollars to pay for inspections of horsemeat, by a vote of 69-28.
  • June 8, 2005 – U.S. House of Representatives approves the Sweeney-Spratt-Rahall-Whitfield Amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill to prohibit the use of tax dollars to pay for inspections of horsemeat, by a vote of 269-158.
  • May 19, 2005 – U.S. House of Representatives approves the Rahall-Whitfield Amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill to restore federal protections from commercial sale and slaughter to wild horses and burros, by a vote of 249-159. The provision is stripped in conference from the final bill.

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