U.S. slaughterhouses met a demand for horse meat from other countries, including France, Canada and Mexico, by exporting horse meat until Congress refused to fund the necessary federal inspections, effectively ending the practice, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Some groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the ban had unintended side effects as horses that were abandoned, rounded up or seized were shipped under inhumane conditions to other countries for slaughter there.
PETA said while it continues to oppose the slaughter of horses for meat, allowing the reopening of U.S. slaughterhouses could reduce the animals' suffering.
"To reduce suffering, there should be a ban on the export of live horses, even if that means opening slaughterhouses in the U.S. again," the group said.
Congress' decision to lift the de facto ban in its new spending bill does not explicitly earmark money for slaughterhouse oversight, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture said if slaughterhouses were to open, they would conduct inspections.