Horse processing plants will remain shuttered, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cannot sell wild horses without reservation, and the USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) will receive additional funds to enforce the Horse Protection Act (HPA) under the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill, which President Donald Trump signed into law on March 23.
Under the $1.3 billion measure, the USDA cannot use any of its funds to conduct horsemeat inspections processing plants, effectively preventing U.S. horse processing plant development.
The spending bill also forbids the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) BLM from selling wild horses and burros without reservation—that is, to any buyer—but allows the agency to transfer equids removed from the range to other federal state or local agencies to be sued as work animals.
“Any animal transferred loses its status as a wild free-roaming horse or burro,” the bill states.
At the same time, agencies receiving transferred animals are forbidden from selling or transferring the animals for slaughter. Also, receiving are forbidden from euthanizing the animals “except upon the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian, in cases of severe injury, illness, or advanced age.”
Meanwhile, the legislation instructs the DOI to develop a comprehensive science-based plan to reduce wild horse and burro maintenance while improving animal health and welfare on the range. The agency is instructed to submit the plan the House and Senate’s Congressional Appropriations Committees within 30 days of the funding bill’s passage.
In addition, HPA enforcement funding rose to $705,000 under the funding bill, an $8,000 increase.
Finally, the spending bill adds $1 million to expand funding for the Adaptive Sports Program that awards small grants for equine therapy for veterans with physical disabilities. The increase allows the program to expand to include equine assisted therapy for veterans experiencing mental issues, including posttraumatic stress disorder.