House bill 961 – The “Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2019” – would prohibit “the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption.” In other words, it would officially ban horse slaughter in the U.S. (currently, inspections for equine slaughterhouses have simply been de-funded, something that could change any year now) and – and here’s the crucial part – the transport of horses to slaughter. Though I don’t like the bill’s title or the ostensible motivation – “to prevent human health threats posed by the consumption of equines raised in the United States” – it would truly be a monumental win, the end of the shackle-hoist-slash-bleedout of America’s horses.
But – the industry, as represented by the various alphabet trade-groups, refuses to endorse. Imagine that, especially in light of the desperate times in which they currently find themselves. From a recent Daily Racing Form article:
“The [National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s] Waldrop was asked if his coalition of racing interests would lead the charge to support passage of the SAFE Act and end horse slaughter as an issue hanging over the head of the sport. His response: ‘While we strongly oppose the slaughter of Thoroughbreds for human consumption, NTRA members and affiliates represent a wide spectrum of views regarding a legislated ban on slaughter, so we have for the last several years chosen to remain neutral on the [Act].’ Asked the same question, James Gagliano of The Jockey Club echoed, ‘The Jockey Club board hasn’t taken a formal position on this particular act. However, we have a policy that says The Jockey Club is unequivocally opposed to the slaughter or processing of Thoroughbreds for consumption by humans or animals.'”
The article goes on to quote Washington lobbyist Chris Heyde: “As much as racing is getting beat up right now, you would think they would jump at the chance to get behind passage of the act. There is absolutely zero potential of loss on this issue. And the support is there. Senator [Mitch] McConnell supports the ban, and he’s the majority leader. I think a lot of it has just kind of been apathy. The legislation is there. It languishes. And the slaughter trade continues…”
The perhaps two most influential racing organizations in the country refuse to take a meaningful (supporting legislation) stand against slaughter. “I think a lot of it has just kind of been apathy.” Apathy – as multiple thousands are brutally and violently massacred every year. The lie of “equine welfare” laid bare for all to see, yet again.