Part of Obama’s spending bill signed into law on November 18th ( H.R. 2112) went towards granting funds to numerous government agencies, including the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) for the fiscal year ending in september 2012. A small part of this bill that flew relatively under the radar because of all the other spending concerns in the country right now was a section that lifted as USDA ban on slaughtering horses for their meat.
People (including but not limited to equestrians and the humane society) were outraged by the lifting of this ban and jumped the gun saying that Obama had legalized horse slaughter, denouncing the practice as horrific and violent. What they failed to realize, however, was that lifting the USDA ban did not effectively guarantee the practice would become widespread or that it would in fact be at all legal.
In order for any food item, meat included, to be on the market it has to get USDA inspection. In the case of horse slaughterhouses (none of which currently exist in the US) this would mean certification and inspection for human and sanitary practice. Because none of these parameters are in place, it would require a portion of the USDA’s budget to be redirected toward the creation of these facilities, inspectors, and procedures.
It is unlikely that the USDA will be adding any such departments or allotting any funding toward these ends when they are already on such a tight budget. However, if these were in place, reports indicate that some horse meat may hit stores by the end of the month of December.
Ethically, I think animals are animals and humane slaughter is acceptable for anything we deem fit for consumption. Horse has been eaten in several cultures traditionally around the globe, and I think that perhaps it’s not so bad if people want to eat the stuff. In fact, people in the US already eat illegal black market horse meat from Mexico. These animals live in terrible conditions and are slaughtered by the most inhumane ways you can imagine. In fact, PETA is in favor of the ban being lifted in order to reduce the extent to which people have to go to get illegal, inhumanely raised and slaughtered horse meat. Legalizing the process and putting the framework in place for humane slaughter has its appeal for animal rights activists in some circles.
Not sure if I would ever really want to knowingly eat horse, but I hafta say I wonder what it tastes like….
Food for thought on this fine Thursday evening/Friday morning after writing a quick religion paper.
p.s. if you find yourself with a horse steak in the near future, may I recommend you make the “SeaBiscuit”: ground horse patty, lettuce, tomato, juliened carrot, all on a flaky buttermilk biscuit.