Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Vern Buchanan says momentum is growing for bill to ban horse slaughter

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Congress is just into the second week of a five-week summer August break, but that doesn’t mean lawmakers are staying idle when it comes to working on gaining support for legislation they’re sponsoring.

Take Sarasota’s Vern Buchanan, whose office announced Thursday that his bill that would ban the killing of horses for human consumption picked up its 150th co-sponsor in New York Republican Dan Donovan.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that must end,” Buchanan said.“We need to build on this momentum and get this bill signed into law.”

Last week, the SAFE ACT (Safeguard American Food Exports) was introduced in the Senate this month by Senate Republicans Susan Collins from Maine and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, and by Democrats Bob Menendez from New Jersey and Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island.

The SAFE Act has been endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Although the slaughter of horses for human consumption is currently not allowed in the United States, the prohibition is temporary and subject to annual congressional review. There is no federal law prohibiting the transport of horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.

More than 100,000 American horses are exported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those horses are butchered and then transported overseas for consumption in Japan, Italy and other countries. More than 90 percent of these horses were healthy and in good condition.

The last horse slaughter plant in the U.S. shut down in 2007, and Congress has worked to keep them off U.S. soil every year by denying funding for required slaughterhouse inspections in its annual appropriations budgets.

Buchanan has received the U.S. Humane Society’s Legislator of the Year award for his strong record against animal cruelty.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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