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U.S. House of Representatives to Vote on Animal Welfare Issues in Agriculture Spending Bill

(June 14, 2011) —The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund are urging the U.S. House of Representatives to approve amendments to reduce federal spending for lethal predator control and subsidies to massive factory farms, and oppose efforts to add funding to re-open horse slaughter plants.

“At a time when so many lawmakers are focused on deficit reduction, we can save millions of taxpayer dollars and save animals by reforming harmful government programs,” said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of The HSUS and president of HSLF. “Costly and inhumane killing of predators with poisons and aerial gunning, subsidizing foreign-owned horse slaughter plants, and excessive hand-outs to factory farms that drive out smaller, more humane, sustainable farms, are all wastes of tax dollars.”

Lethal Predator Control

Reps. John Campbell, R-Calif., Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Gary Peters, D-Mich. will offer an amendment to cut $11 million in USDA’s budget to curb the taxpayer subsidy for lethal predator control by the agency’s Wildlife Services division. This antiquated program has been wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and recklessly killing animals with steel-jawed leghold traps, toxic poisons, aerial gunning, and other inhumane methods. The poisons, particularly Compound 1080 and M-44 sodium cyanide devices, are so deadly and indiscriminate that they have killed family pets and endangered species in addition to killing their intended targets. Moreover, they are ineffective, since other predators simply move into the vacant territory.

The Campbell-DeFazio-Peters amendment leaves funding for legitimate concerns, such as airport safety, but it halts the fleecing of American taxpayers as a subsidy for wealthy ranchers and begins to shift the agency toward a greater balance with cost-effective and non-lethal solutions. This program spent $78 million on operations in FY10 to address conflicts with wildlife, mostly through lethal methods.

USDA Inspections of Horse Slaughter Plants

The HSUS and HSLF are urging members of the House to reject any effort to repeal a provision of the bill that prohibits federal funding for USDA inspections at horse slaughter plants. Every year since 2005, the Agriculture Appropriations bill has included such a provision, which ensured the permanent closure of the last remaining equine abattoirs in Illinois and Texas and has prevented other cruel horse slaughter plants from opening around the country. Americans do not eat horsemeat and more than 70 percent of the country views horse slaughter as a cruel, unnecessary practice.

Subsidizing government inspections of foreign-owned horse slaughter plants could cost U.S. taxpayers about $5 million annually. It would be a waste of tax dollars for Congress to add such expenditures, given all the attention on cutting federal spending. It is foreign gourmands who want this product and would benefit from USDA inspection of horse slaughter plants, at the expense of American taxpayers. As Congress works to cut the budget in every possible way, it should continue to prevent the addition of millions of dollars to the deficit, simply to allow our nation’s horses again to be subjected to cruel slaughter to satisfy foreign markets.

Farm Subsidies

Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., are leading an effort in the House to limit farm payments to large-scale producers. Rep. Flake successfully offered an amendment in the House Appropriations Committee to end subsidies for wealthy producers, but that may face a challenge on the House floor. Rep. Blumenauer plans to offer an amendment to cap the size of farm subsidies.

Payments to megafarms are driving small- and mid-sized more humane, sustainable family farms out of business. Excessive commodity subsidies keep animal feed artificially cheap and encourage massive factory farm development. From 1995 to 2009, federal farm subsidies cost taxpayers a quarter of a trillion dollars. They drive up the deficit while jeopardizing public health, the environment, and animal welfare.

Media contact: Stephanie Twining, (301) 258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at hslf.org, on our blog at animalsandpolitics.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund.