Federal legislation intended to fund U.S. government agencies will continue provide revenue for USDA inspections at horse processing plants located in the United States through September 2013. The current federal continuing funding resolution that also included USDA expired on March 27.
Every year since 2006, lawmakers had denied funding for USDA meat inspections at horse processing plants in the United States. The lack of funding eliminated food safety certifications necessary for U.S.-produced horsemeat products to be exported Europe and other offshore markets. As a result, the defunding figured significantly in operators’ decisions to close the last U.S.-based horse processing plant in 2007. Thereafter, U.S. horses were exported to processing facilities in Mexico and Canada. In November 2011, Congress passed an appropriations bill that did not include language specifically forbidding the USDA from using federal dollars to fund horse slaughter plant inspections. Since then, the owners of the Valley Meat Co., LLC, in New Mexico have applied for a USDA inspection permit, which remains pending. In addition, according to published reports, operators of prospective plants in several other states have also applied for inspection permits. Currently no horse slaughter plants are currently operating in the United States.
In June 2012, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran introduced and the U.S. House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that reduced funding for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) meat facility inspections to a level below the fiscal 2012 funding level. The amendment also deprived the USDA of funds to inspect horse processing plants in the United States. Moran said that funding horse processing plant inspections would consume FSIS resources at the expense of funding for chicken, pork and beef inspections.