U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., is continuing his fight to end slaughtering horses for human consumption in the U.S. and stop exporting horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
This week, Buchanan brought back his "Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act" which he introduced in August 2017 and garnered 150 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. While the bill was not able to get over the finish line last time out, he did bring out an amendment to a government funding bill on the matter.
Buchanan’s amendment on horse slaughtering prevented the “reopening of horse slaughter facilities in the United States by prohibiting federal funding for health and safety inspections which is required by law at all meat processing plants.”The federal ban on horse slaughter was set to expire early in 2018 but Buchanan was able to bring the language of his amendment into the federal omnibus spending bill that President Donald Trump signed into law in March.
This week, Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., reintroduced the “SAFE Act.”
“Horses have a special place in our nation’s history, and these majestic creatures were not raised as food for humans,” Schakowsky said on Wednesday. “The SAFE Act would prohibit any horse slaughter plant from opening; and also end the sale or transport of horses and horse parts in the U.S. and abroad for the purpose of human consumption. I am proud to reintroduce this bill and work with Congressman Buchanan to put an end to this practice.”
“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in America,” Buchanan said. “I will continue to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to ban domestic horse slaughter and end the export of horses abroad for slaughter.”
A host of animal rights groups including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation endorsed the proposal.
"The horse slaughter industry delivers a series of traumatic events and ends with open-eyed terror for animals that deserve much better from us," said Holly Gann, the director of federal affairs for Animal Wellness Action. "Toxic horse meat is anything but a legitimate American agriculture export. Congress should move quickly to protect our horses.”
Over in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, will champion a companion bill.
In recent years, Buchanan, who has been honored by the Humane Society, has focused on animal welfare issues. In 2016, he teamed up with U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-NM, to urge the Interior Department to end plans to exterminate or sell more than 45,000 wild horses.
The Bradenton congressman has also been active in trying to keep manatees covered under the Endangered Species Act. Back in 2018, Buchanan protested the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to downgrade manatees from “endangered” to “threatened.” In 2017, Buchanan teamed up with U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., on bringing out the “Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act," a proposal banning the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption which President Donald Trump signed into law. Buchanan has also been critical of the Trump administration’s efforts to end bans on bringing lion and elephant trophies into the United States.
Last month, Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., brought out the "Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act,” a proposal cracking down on animal cruelty and torture.
First elected to the U.S. House in 2006, Buchanan serves on both the Budget and the Ways and Means Committees. Buchanan’s name has garnered buzz as a possible U.S. Senate candidate in recent election cycles but he’s opted to continue in the House.