The “Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act” is a 2019 federal bill that would ban both the slaughtering of horses on U.S. soil (currently there are no active slaughterhouses, but that’s only because USDA inspections of those facilities has been defunded) and the export of American horses for the purpose of slaughter.
U.S. Horseracing, as we well know, is in a fight for its very existence. You would think, then, that all the major players would have enthusiastically lined up to back legislation that addresses the blackest of marks on their industry – the wholesale slaughter of their erstwhile “athletes.” But you would be wrong. For some – most conspicuously, The Jockey Club – support is still missing; for others, like the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA), it’s only now coming – after two years.
In a press release last week, the PHBA wrote:
Continuing to demonstrate its commitment to the health and welfare of thoroughbreds, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association today announced its endorsement of the Safeguard American Food Exports Act.
The release continued:
PHBA Board member Hank Nothhaft said … the fact that many unwanted thoroughbred broodmares are found in slaughter pens proved to be a call to action. “There was unanimous support from the PHBA Board to mitigate the slaughter of broodmares,” said Nothhaft. “Older broodmares, especially, are not attractive candidates for equestrian activities, and thus they are not as easy to rehome as younger horses. This has really pushed us from sitting on the bench towards getting into the fray.”
Imagine that. Only now, two years after the bill’s introduction, only now, after decades of carnage (which all have been aware of) are the PA breeders “demonstrat[ing] [their] commitment to the health and welfare of thoroughbreds, [no longer] sitting on the bench, getting into the fray.” It is cynical; it is disgusting; it is horseracing.