Livestock owners pay attention. There is a bill in the U.S. House right now that could change the way we do business.
The Facts of the Bill
The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008.
The sponsor of the bill is Rep John Conyers D-MI.
The bill was introduced on July 24, 2008, and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee, not the Agriculture Committee due to the federal punishment people would receive. There are 91 cosponsors of the bill. The only representative from Missouri who is cosponsoring it is Representative Emanuel Cleaver, who is Missouri's Fifth District Representative; the Fifth District centers on metro Kansas City, Mo.
What it Means
From Senator Bond's office we received the jist of this bill: The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008 will amend the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or prison term of up to three years for possessing, shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering or receiving any horse, horse flesh or carcass with the intent that it be used for human consumption. The bill does reduce the prison term to one year if the offense involves less than five horses or less than 2,000 pounds of horse flesh or carcass and the offender has no prior conviction for this offense.
What the Act Says
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the 'Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008'.
SEC. 2. SLAUGHTER OF HORSES FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
(a) In General- Chapter 3 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
Sec. 50. Slaughter of horses for human consumption
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), whoever knowingly–
(1) possesses, ships, transports, purchases, sells, delivers, or receives, in or affecting interstate commerce or foreign commerce, any horse with the intent that it is to be slaughtered for human consumption; or
(2) possesses, ships, transports, purchases, sells, delivers, or receives, in or affecting interstate commerce or foreign commerce, any horse flesh or carcass or part of a carcass, with the intent that it is to be used for human consumption; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years or both.
(1) the defendant engages in conduct that would otherwise constitute an offense under subsection (a);
(2) the defendant has no prior conviction under this section; and
(3) the conduct involves less than five horses or less than 2000 pounds of horse flesh or carcass or part of a carcass; the defendant shall, instead of being punished under that subsection, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
(c) The Attorney General shall provide for the humane placement or other humane disposition of any horse seized in connection with an offense under this section.
(d) As used in this section, the term 'horse' means any member of the family Equidae.
(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections for chapter 3 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
50. Slaughter of horses for human consumption.
What You Can Do
We received the following from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Cattlemen's Capitol Concerns:
On Thursday, September 18, 2008, the House Judiciary Committee debated H.R. 6598, the "Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008." Discussion lasted for an hour, and Congressman Issa (CA-49th) introduced an amendment which stipulated that the bill (if made law) could only be applicable if there was already a state law criminalizing the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the state where the conduct occurs.
Chairman Conyers adjourned the hearing with no votes being taken on either H.R. 6598 or the Issa amendment. Currently there are no more mark-up hearings scheduled for the House Judiciary Committee for September session.
NCBA continues to actively oppose the bill, and has encouraged members to contact their representatives in Congress to share how this action would hurt their businesses and its detrimental impacts on equine welfare.
NCBA also sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and ranking member Lamar Smith last week detailing the legislation's flaws, saying, "This bill is the most recent attempt to eliminate a humane animal management option by banning the processing of horses for reasons other than safety or public health. The legislation was introduced to protect horse welfare, but the provisions of this bill will do more to harm horses than it will to protect them." Since state laws have banned horse processing, the number of abandoned, neglected, and starving horses has drastically increased. Additionally, the bill would severely limit the rights of owners to manage their private property and subject horse owners to criminal prosecution should they sell their horses for processing.
Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, we heard The House Judiciary Committee had passed the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. As of Thursday, September 25, 2008, The Judiciary Committee had two days to report the bill out so it could come up on the floor of the House or be attached to some other bill going through. If we hear more, we will add the updates to our website, www.ozarksfn.com.