Letter on Horse Slaughter Appropriations

July 30, 2007

Contact: Dave Warner (202) 347-3600

Washington, July 30, 2007 

July 30, 2007

Dear Representative:

The undersigned organizations representing the veterinary, equine, and livestock community would like to share with you our animal health concerns with the language in Sec. 738 of the FY08 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

Our concern is that this language would have greater implications than simply prohibiting fee for service activities related to the processing of horses for human consumption. The language referencing the Animal Health Protection Act would also prohibit the assessment and collection of fees for inspection of live horses for any animal diseases. This would prevent USDA inspections at quarantine facilities for horses entering and leaving the country and from endorsing any related and necessary health certificates for travel. It is common for horses to travel between the United States and Canada on a temporary basis with a current negative Coggins test (for EIA) and a USDA endorsed 30 day health certificate for horse shows and other competitive events. The language in Sec. 738 would prohibit the USDA from endorsing these certificates and certifying that the animals are healthy.

Limiting the ability of the USDA to endorse health certificates and to carry out animal quarantine laws would have a negative effect on the health of the equine population in the United States, as well as a negative indirect effect on the ability of USDA to carry out quarantine laws with respect to other livestock. Applying this language to 21 U.S.C. Sec 136a, the Secretary would be prohibited from collecting fees to carry out the provisions of the Federal Animal Quarantine Laws that relate to the importation, entry, and exportation of animals, articles, or means of conveyance. Examples of diseases that are routinely tested for in equine quarantine facilities are Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM), Equine Piroplasmosis, Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), Dourine, and Glanders. This could also affect domestic travel with regards to regional animal disease surveillance programs and by prohibiting USDA-APHIS from being proactive in the identification and quarantine of any animal disease. Routine testing and surveillance can successfully limit the prevalence and spread of disease by identifying infected animals and instituting appropriate quarantine procedures; the horse and livestock industries are supportive of USDA efforts to limit the prevalence and spread of diseases.

A current negative Coggins test and health certificate of veterinary inspection are required for interstate travel of horses. Over two million horses per year are tested for EIA and less than two hundred horses per year test positive. Both the National Veterinary Service Laboratory and private labs are required to report these test results to the USDA annually, with positive tests reported to the state veterinarian within 24 hours. With the requirement of a health certificate of veterinary inspection and a negative Coggins test for travel, we have been able to greatly reduce the numbers of infected horses and institute appropriate quarantine measures. This is one example of how these necessary tests and certificates enable us to successfully prevent the spread of disease.

The language in this bill is overly broad and prevents the USDA from endorsing, certifying, or filing any certificate concerning horses. This encompasses any health certificate to certify that the animal is free of disease before traveling and has animal health and welfare implications. As members of the veterinary, equine, and livestock community concerned with the well-being of these animals we urge you to support removal of this language when the FY08 Agriculture Appropriations Bill is considered on the House floor.


American Association of Equine Practitioners

American Horse Council

American Quarter Horse Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

Animal Welfare Council

Feld Entertainment

National Animal Interest Alliance

National Animal Interest Alliance Trust

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Thoroughbred Racing Association

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

The Outdoor Amusement Business Association