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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

USDA Back in the Horse Meat Inspection Business?

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Among the items you might have missed in the recent 2012 appropriations bill covering five agencies? A measure that lifts a ban on horse meat inspections at the Agriculture Department.

The Associated Press reports that Congress had cut off funding for horse meat inspections in 2006, after a proposal for an outright ban on slaughtering horses for meat failed. But in the recent appropriations bill, which also funds other federal agencies through Dec. 16, the funding restrictions were removed.

No money was allocated for horse meat inspections, though, so USDA would have to find funds to conduct them elsewhere in its already-tight budget. For now, it may be a moot point. The department says there currently aren't any slaughterhouses in the United States that butcher horses for human consumption. And given opposition from animal rights groups and Americans' general distaste for equine eating, it won't be easy for anyone to open one soon.

(Photo by Flickr user JPott)

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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