Skip to comments.Congress Reverses Domestic Horse Slaughter Ban
Posted on 11/30/2011 3:06:35 PM PST by girlangler
Congress Reverses Domestic Horse Slaughter Ban
Federal lawmakers last month quietly found a way to reverse a policy that has devastated the equine industry in recent years and advanced cruel and inhumane treatment of horses nationwide.
In 2006 animal rights activists celebrated Congresss actions to end funding for government inspections at U.S. facilities that slaughtered horses for meat to be exported to Europe and Asian countries.
Emotionally driven advertising campaigns funded by national animal welfare groups helped impact public opinion and convince lawmakers that slaughtering and exporting horsemeat was cruel and should be ended.
The benevolent move had unintended consequences, though, when the U.S.-based horsemeat processors moved operations to Canada and Mexico, where labor and shipping costs are cheaper, and regulations on treatment of animals are comparatively lenient.
In November the U.S. House and Senate each passed the agriculture appropriations bill without including any of the annual riders that have prevented the U.S. Department of Agriculture from providing necessary inspections to horse processing facilities. President Barak Obama signed the measure Nov. 18.
The efforts of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights organizations actively involved in efforts to hamstring animal agriculture succeeded in closing down the last three horse processing facilities in Texas and Illinois in 2007. The HSUS convinced state legislatures there to pass laws prohibiting horse slaughter for meat in those two states, and Congress attached amendments to each subsequent agriculture appropriations bill preventing a facility to open in any other state.
Animal rights groups like HSUS are vowing to work through state legislatures and increase lobbying efforts for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The proposed legislation would amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.
Before the slaughter facilities were closed in the U.S., horse owners could take unwanted animals and sell the meat by the pound. In parts of Europe and Asia the meat is considered a delicacy, and it solved the problem of how to dispose of a large animal without the use of a backhoe, or for those who couldnt afford to have a veterinarian euthanize it.
According to New Mexico Livestock Board Deputy Director Bobby Pierce, the relocation of the plants to Mexico had a devastating effect on the states horse industry. The NMLB is the law enforcement arm for the livestock industry and houses the state veterinarian to regulate livestock diseases.
Pierce estimates in New Mexico alone, some 2,000 to 3,000 domesticated horses have been abandoned on federal and state lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Park Service and tribal lands.
I think it is a lot more cruel to turn a horse loose to starve than have it humanely killed in a well-regulated facility, said Pierce. We are finding horses malnourished and sick wandering on the sides of roads. And when they were processed here it was much more humane than the way they are in Mexico.
But Dennis Chavez, owner of Southwest Livestock Auctions in Los Lunas, one of the largest auctions in the U.S., questions whether the situation can be reversed, even with the reinstatement of funding for domestic inspectors.
They ruined the U.S. industry, he told THE SENTINEL this week. And I doubt it can recover, when the biggest slaughter houses moved from here to Mexico, where they operate with much lower labor costs, shipping costs, and little or no regulation. The animal rights people who pushed this had no idea what they would create, but their efforts have caused much more suffering for the animals, and created a situation where people will not invest in a horse now, because the cost is prohibitive.
According to an organization called United Horsemen, Congresss recent decision to fund inspectors has meat processors considering opening facilities in at least a half-dozen states, including Georgia, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and possibly Idaho.
Several congressmen worked to eliminate the Appropriations rider after the Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued a damning report last June. The report verified more abandoned and neglected horses in the U.S. (which has 9 million equines) have been sold and processed for meat in countries that may not have the same standard of humane euthanasia that U.S. law requires.
According to the report, 138,000 American horses were sold and processed for meat in other countries in 2010, a 660-percent increase from 2007.
In addition, for the past five years the USDA has not had jurisdiction over the transport of these horses, and the movement to other countries can be extremely harsh.
A sluggish economy has also contributed to the horse neglect and abandonment. The GAO report said in Colorado alone horse abandonment increased 60 percent in four yearsfrom 975 in 2005 to 1,588 in 2009. California, Texas, and Florida also reported more horses abandoned on private or state land since 2007.
According to a New York Times report, the misguided policy also forced breeders and owners out of business because their inability to sell horses for meat removed the floor for prices while forcing owners to shoulder costs for euthanizing and disposing unwanted horses. Before the ban, the horse slaughter business generated some $65 million in revenues a year, according to the article.
The GAO report also examined the effect on the U.S. horse market, impact of these market changes on horse welfare and on states, local governments, tribes, and animal welfare organizations, and challenges to USDAs oversight of the transport and welfare of U.S. horses exported for slaughter.
GAO estimates the economic downturn reduced prices for all horses by four to five percent, and Comprehensive, national data are lacking, but state, local government, and animal welfare organizations report a rise in investigations for horse neglect and more abandoned horses since 2007.
Further, the GAO report found many owner/shipper certificates are being returned to USDA without key information, if they are returned at all. It concluded that annual legislative prohibitions on USDAs use of federal funds for inspecting horses impede USDAs ability to improve compliance with, and enforcement of, the transport regulation.
According to the American Veterinary Association (AVA), a national organization that was opposed to ending domestic horse slaughter, there are three methods acceptable for the euthanasia of horses: chemical euthanasia, with pentobarbital or a pentobarbital combination (euthanasia solution); gunshot; and a penetrating captive bolt.
Most veterinarians prefer chemical euthanasia for horses, which requires injection of euthanasia solution and the use of an intravenous catheter to ensure all of the solution is properly injected.
Euthanasia solution is a controlled drug, subject to regulation by the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and must be stored in locked cabinets when not in use. This is the most expensive form of equine euthanasia, and horse carcasses can contaminate the environment and pose a significant risk of poisoning for carrion-eating birds and wildlife unless they are disposed immediately.
Gunshot and the penetrating captive bolt are acceptable physical methods of euthanasia. When used in the correct manner, they induce death more rapidly than chemical euthanasia, according to the AVA. Although the general public perception of horse slaughter for human consumption is unsettling to some, there is a growing market in Europe, because of the concern about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease).
Another demand for horsemeat comes from zoos. Large carnivore like lions and tigers require high-quality protein in their diets, and horsemeat has more protein, less fat, less cholesterol, less sodium, and more iron than the same amount of high-quality beef.
Horse fajitas with pine nuts. Just a thought.
Here ya go Jaz.
Tasted my first pine nut recently.
Thank GAWD, Congress is FINALLY setting it’s priorities strait! /s
My schools served us horsemeat back in the 50’s and 60’s.
It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t beef. They also served mutton. Then there was mystery meat.......
When we refuse to hand over our horses to the big cats, then we end up harming their health.
I'd thought everybody was concerned that the big spotted cats were in danger of extinction ~ and Fur Shur horses aren't!
Barbaric. I’ll stick with the Bible’s directive: Cloven hooves
HSUS and PETA sensibilities aside, the suspension of domestic US slaughter inspection has had significant unintended impacts. Most notably, and as mentioned in this article, the simple abandonment of geriatric, malnourished, and diseased horses onto state or federal lands has become an issue all over the country.
Here in the midwest, I am aware of dozens of ‘rescues’ from public lands.
The humane slaughter of horses, with appropriate inspection for food safety, is much more preferable to those of us who are engaged in breeding, managing, and enjoying our horses. And, it frees up space in overtaxed equine rescue operations for the animals that are simply not suited for slaughter.
The idiots coming up with these feel-goody regulations never think things through.
PJ O’Rourke talked about a problem in Africa — I don’t know if it’s gotten better or worse — probably worse. It involves the big cats.
Back in the bad old days, a rich American hunter who wanted a trophy for his wall or a rug for his den, could take a safari in South Africa, bag a cat, and bring it home.
Well, the bunny huggers outlawed that to save the kitties, but the law of unintended consequences got to them.
It seems that there were a lot of big ranchers who made a good chunk of money catering to these hunters. They looked at the big cats as a resource and, while they took care to protect their livestock, they occasionally staked out an elderly goat or two in famine times to keep the cat population fed and stable.
When the law passed, and the American hunters stopped coming, the cats were no longer a resource, they were a nuisance. Farmers and ranchers started killing them whenever they encountered them. Females and kits included.
Bottom line — the big cat population declined drastically.
But hey, the bunny-huggers got to feel nice about things, so it’s all good. Right?
CAT! the other white meat.
Great article, the issue is covered well. Hopefully there’ll be horse slaughter houses started again, it’s more humane than shipping them to Mexico or letting them starve to death.
Thank you, GirlAngler! Ping for reading tonight! :-)
My old man said it was good stuff, when you had the choice of horse meat are no meat.
How'd you like them?
I tasted my first pinion nut when I was a kid in AZ, must have been 1948 or '49. They're great but I haven't had any for years.
pinion = pinon nut
Humane Society = crazed idiots who cause net harm to animals.
So feed ‘em to the homeless and to those who need help with food. I’ve never had it, but people have been eating horse meat for thousands of years. When its that or starve, hey grill up some.
Cloven hooves...AND....chew the cud.
I don’t know the details on whether or not it is allowed for consumption here, or if not, why.
What authority does Congress have to engage this?
Humane key wird
Chicks started thinking of them as pets.
One thing most people don't realize is that people in this country who once rode horseback as a primary means of transportation carried pistols in order to be able to kill the horse before it killed them.
Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt.
When I wrote the article I came across something from the AVA site saying some people have to put horses down because they are dangerous to other animals and humans.
And a host of other reasons, some of which is to keep the animals from suffering.
I love elk meat, BTW.
We’re going from Wagyu to Nag-yu.
We’re going from Wagyu to Nag-yu.
-—now let’s find a way to turn the thousands of penned, useless nags in BLM custody into dog food-—