National Groups Team Up on USDA
HUMANE GROUPS FILE COMPLAINT AGAINST USDA ACTION
WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 14, 2006) - Six national humane groups representing
over 9.5 million members and several individuals filed a complaint in
federal court today against Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and
Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Barbara Masters,
challenging the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) decision to create
a "fee-for-service" inspection system that facilitates the continued
transport and slaughter of tens of thousands of American horses for
human consumption abroad each year.
This action by the USDA is in direct contravention of an amendment to
the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that prohibits tax dollars from
being used to fund the federally mandated inspection of horses for
slaughter (beginning March 10, 2006), the Animal Welfare Institute,
Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL), Doris Day Animal
League, The Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals,
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American
Humane Association, and the individual co-plaintiffs charge.
"There is a growing frustration among the public and members of Congress
with this blatant disregard for a law overwhelmingly passed by the
Congress and signed into law by the President," said Chris Heyde, SAPL
deputy legislative director. "The US Congress clearly responded to the
American publics' demand for an end to slaughter and the USDA is
choosing to violate this act to shelter three foreign owned
The USDA action not only flouts Congressional intent in enacting the
amendment, but violates other federal legal mandates and abrogates the
public's right to comment on such important matters by making the
decision with no advance public notice and comment, the groups say.
"The executive branch is not in the position to interpret law when the
intent of Congress is clear. Proponents and opponents of the Amendment
were united in their statements that this measure was and is intended to
end the slaughter of America's horses for a fiscal year beginning March
10, 2006," said Heyde.
Meanwhile, Members of Congress have introduced the American Horse
Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503 and S. 1915) in both chambers in an
attempt to achieve a permanent ban on the practice of horse slaughter
for human consumption.
The organizations and individuals bringing this suit on behalf of their
members and constituents are represented by Meyer, Glitzenstein and
Crystal, a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C.
Chris Heyde, SAPL deputy legislative director: (703) 836-4300