The United States Congress has quietly lifted a ban that would allow the butchering of horses for human consumption to resume in the U.S.
The U.S. has had a 5-year-old ban on USDA funding for horse meat inspections but the ban was quietly lifted earlier this month.
Congress did not allocate any money to pay for new inspections, however, the money could potentially be located in the dwindling budget of the U.S. Department of Agriculture if the interest persists.
Activists warn that slaughterhouses of horses for human consumption could be operating again within a month and are concerned that if the slaughterhouses are to reopen, strapped-for-cash Americans will dump their unwanted animals without looking for more sustainable alternatives.
Experts predict that if slaughterhouses are to reopen in the Midwest, local people will be apt to protest against the killing of horses for human consumption.
“Local opposition will emerge and you’ll have tremendous controversy over slaughtering Trigger and Mr. Ed,” Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States told the AP.
Although most Americans do not consume the meat due to cultural taboos, concerns arise as foreign importers laud the U.S. for its quality horse meat.
On Tuesday, the USDA released a statement saying that slaughterhouses are currently closed and if they were to reopen that it would inspect the houses thoroughly to ensure that legal regulations are followed.
A majority of the meat would be shipped abroad to Europe and Asia as more than a dozen states across the U.S. have strict regulations regarding the sale of horse meat.
The lift on the ban has activists from both sides arguing for or against the legality of horse slaughtering.
Some groups that are pro-slaughterhouse argue that the economy has resulted in sick horses being abandoned by their owners and reopening slaughterhouses would provide needy people with jobs.
However, others, such as Pacelle of the Humane Society, maintain that people with sick animals should look for animal sanctuaries or have veterinarians put them to sleep.