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Horse slaughter OK'd by USDA

Article

WASHINGTON - 02/08/06 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow the three U.S. horse slaughter facilities to pay for its own inspections, negating a congressional edict that nixed federal funding for inspectors on the department's appropriations bill last year.

WASHINGTON - 02/08/06 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow the three U.S. horse slaughter facilities to pay for its own inspections, negating a congressional edict that nixed federal funding for inspectors on the department's appropriations bill last year.

Four people at the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service, including two veterinarians, inspect horse slaughter facilities; the USDA was unable to determine whether those inspectors will continue in their current capacity when the fee-for-service agreement begins March 10, according to USDA Spokesman Steven Cohen.

"The amendment and the other language on this issue that was included in the appropriations bill conference agreement clearly indicates the acknowledgment of FSIS' responsibilities under the federal Meat Inspection Act to inspect horses for slaughter," Cohen says. "So we feel as though we have no choice but to initiate this fee-for-service program for ante-mortem inspection to ensure that animals that are slaughtered for domestic or export are properly inspected."

The program, which is the result of a petition filed by the slaughter facilities, will charge $43.64 per hour for facilities inspections, the same rate FSIS charges for species absent from the federal Meat Inspection Act, including Bison and Ostrich.

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