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Some Committee Members Puzzled By Horse Trafficking Bill PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
AFF Sentinel Vol.5#39

Readers have been asking us about the results of the Judiciary Committee's vote on H.R. 6598, the Equine Cruelty bill. We had alerted readers that the Committee had scheduled a vote for last Wednesday, Sept. 10.

The bill would criminalize the knowing possession, sale, delivery or transport of horses for slaughter for human consumption across state lines or international borders, punishable with fines and prison terms from one to three years.

The committee conducted only a little discussion of the bill during their session but did not vote. Several days later the committee had still not published any transcripts. Sources on Capitol Hill tell us the discussion the committee did conduct raised some of the same questions we asked in our last Sentinel. Committee members asked why this issue was coming up in front of the Judiciary Committee, instead of some more germane committee and why Congress was considering at all the criminalizing of selling horses that might be consumed by humans.

Of course, part of the reason for this strange route for a bill affecting farmers, ranchers and horse owners is the subject matter. When Humane Society of the U.S. CEO Wayne Pacelle appeared last year before a House subcommittee with some knowledge and appropriate jurisdiction over animal agriculture, he did not get the reception he wanted.

The hearing regarding the welfare of animals in agriculture was held in May 2007 by the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry. Afterwards, Pacelle called the hearing "sophomoric," and said, "the Agriculture Committee's knee-jerk hostility to modest animal welfare measures simply means we will have to do an end [run] around the committees or do it on the floor," according to agricultural political correspondent Jerry Hagstrom ("Farm, Animal Welfare Groups Clash Over Animal Protection" Congress Daily, 5/9/07).

So, apparently, this route for H.R. 6598 is one of Pacelle's end runs. His testimony last year covered production animal agriculture, like laying hens, gestation crates, veal calves, foie gras and downer animals, as well as poultry slaughter and dog and cat issues.

Pacelle was promoting legislation even then that used the power of the federal government's food purchasing, for programs like the school lunch program, to force back door changes in animal production practices. The bill would have required producers to not use certain production practices if it wished to sell to the federal government (H.R. 1726- Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act). The bill did not make it out of committee.

The Judiciary Committee has not indicated when it will re-schedule a vote on H.R. 6598. We'll keep you posted.

Should you wish to contact them: House Judiciary Committee - 202/225-3951; House switchboard to contact your representative: 202/224-3121. Click for the list of Judiciary Committee members:

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Last Updated ( Friday, 06 March 2009 )
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