Full Statute Name:  United States Code Annotated. Title 7. Agriculture. Chapter 48. Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter

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Popular Title:  Humane Slaughter Act Primary Citation:  7 USC 1901 - 1907 Country of Origin:  United States Last Checked:  March, 2024 Date Adopted:  1958 Historical: 
Summary: These statutory sections comprise what is commonly termed the Humane Slaughter Act. Included in these sections are Congress' statement that livestock must be slaughtered in a humane manner to prevent needless suffering, research methods on humane methods of slaughter, the nonapplicability of these statutes to religious or ritual slaughter, and the investigation into the care of nonambulatory livestock.

§ 1901 . Findings and declaration of policy

§ 1902 . Humane methods

§ 1903 . Repealed. Pub.L. 95-445, § 5(b), Oct. 10, 1978, 92 Stat. 1069

§ 1904 . Methods research; designation of methods

§ 1905 . Repealed. Pub.L. 95-445, § 5(b), Oct. 10, 1978, 92 Stat. 1069

§ 1906 . Exemption of ritual slaughter

§ 1907 . Practices involving nonambulatory livestock



  § 1901 Findings and Declaration of Policy

The Congress finds that the use of humane methods in the slaughter of livestock prevents needless suffering; results in safer and better working conditions for persons engaged in the slaughtering industry; brings about improvement of products and economies in slaughtering operations; and produces other benefits for producers, processors, and consumers which tend to expedite an orderly flow of livestock and livestock products in interstate and foreign commerce. It is therefore declared to be the policy of the United States that the slaughtering of livestock and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter shall be carried out only by humane methods.


(Pub.L. 85-765, § 1, Aug. 27, 1958, 72 Stat. 862.)


  § 1902. Humane methods

No method of slaughtering or handling in connection with slaughtering shall be deemed to comply with the public policy of the United States unless it is humane. Either of the following two methods of slaughtering and handling are hereby found to be humane:

(a) in the case of cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, and other livestock, all animals are rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut; or

(b) by slaughtering in accordance with the ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument and handling in connection with such slaughtering.


(Pub.L. 85-765, § 2, Aug. 27, 1958, 72 Stat. 862; Pub.L. 95-445, § 5(a), Oct. 10, 1978, 92 Stat. 1069.)


§ 1903. Repealed. Pub.L. 95-445, § 5(b), Oct. 10, 1978, 92 Stat. 1069


  § 1904. Methods research; designation of methods

In furtherance of the policy expressed herein the Secretary is authorized and directed--

(a) to conduct, assist, and foster research, investigation, and experimentation to develop and determine methods of slaughter and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter which are practicable with reference to the speed and scope of slaughtering operations and humane with reference to other existing methods and then current scientific knowledge; and

(b) on or before March 1, 1959, and at such times thereafter as he deems advisable, to designate methods of slaughter and of handling in connection with slaughter which, with respect to each species of livestock, conform to the policy stated in this chapter. If he deems it more effective, the Secretary may make any such designation by designating methods which are not in conformity with such policy. Designations by the Secretary subsequent to March 1, 1959, shall become effective 180 days after their publication in the Federal Register.


(Pub.L. 85-765, § 4, Aug. 27, 1958, 72 Stat. 863; Pub.L. 95-445, § 5(b)-(e), Oct. 10, 1978, 92 Stat. 1069.)


§ 1905. Repealed. Pub.L. 95-445, § 5(b), Oct. 10, 1978, 92 Stat. 1069


  § 1906. Exemption of ritual slaughter

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit, abridge, or in any way hinder the religious freedom of any person or group. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, in order to protect freedom of religion, ritual slaughter and the handling or other preparation of livestock for ritual slaughter are exempted from the terms of this chapter. For the purposes of this section the term "ritual slaughter" means slaughter in accordance with section 1902(b) of this title.


(Pub.L. 85-765, § 6, Aug. 27, 1958, 72 Stat. 864.)


  § 1907. Practices involving nonambulatory livestock

(a) Report

The Secretary of Agriculture shall investigate and submit to Congress a report on--

(1) the scope of nonambulatory livestock;

(2) the causes that render livestock nonambulatory;

(3) the humane treatment of nonambulatory livestock; and

(4) the extent to which nonambulatory livestock may present handling and disposition problems for stockyards, market agencies, and dealers.

(b) Authority

Based on the findings of the report, if the Secretary determines it necessary, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations to provide for the humane treatment, handling, and disposition of nonambulatory livestock by stockyards, market agencies, and dealers.

(c) Administration and enforcement

For the purpose of administering and enforcing any regulations promulgated under subsection (b) of this section, the authorities provided under sections 8313 and 8314 of this title shall apply to the regulations in a similar manner as those sections apply to the Animal Health Protection Act. Any person that violates regulations promulgated under subsection (b) of this section shall be subject to penalties provided in section 8313 of this title.


(Pub.L. 107-171, Title X, § 10815, May 13, 2002, 116 Stat. 532.)


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