The U.S. House of Representatives’ Agricultural Appropriations Committee took a step toward eliminating horse processing the United States for another year with its 25-23 vote to prevent the USDA from paying personnel for horsemeat inspections.

In 2007, Congress voted to strip the USDA of the funds required to pay personnel conducting federal horsemeat inspections at the last two domestic equine processing plants operating in Illinois and Texas; both plants later closed. Federal funding bills continued to include language denying funds for horsemeat inspections until 2011 when Congress passed a 2012 appropriations bill that did not contain language specifically forbidding the USDA from using federal dollars to fund horsemeat inspections. Shortly after that bill became law, horse processing plants were proposed in several states, but none were established. Since then, appropriations bills have included amendments that forbid the USDA from funding horsemeat inspectors.

On April 19, the House Agriculture Committee passed the so-called Farr-Dent amendment to the USDA appropriations bill. Sponsored by Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA), the legislation would effectively prevents horse processing plant development for fiscal 2017.

Farr said the legislation is designed to protect horses while keeping the U.S. food supply safe: “Horses are routinely treated with drugs not approved to be used in animals raised for meat. Continuing the ban prevents those chemicals from entering our food supply.”

The bill containing the amendment now moves on to the full House for review.