Posts Tagged ‘US Legislation’

Bipartisan Bill Aims to Halt Cruel Form of Horse Transport

AWI news release

Contact: Chris Heyde, (202) 446-2142 chris@awionline.org

Washington, D.C. (August 6, 2013) – The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) welcomes the reintroduction of S. 1459, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013, by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The bill, which prohibits the hauling of horses on livestock trailers containing one level on top of the other, has garnered bipartisan support in Congress, as well from the welfare, veterinary and agriculture communities.

“It is time we put an end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in double-decker trailers,” Senator Kirk said. “A 2007 accident in Illinois involving one of these trailers killed 15 horses. It is not only a cruel way to transport horses, but it also puts motorists’ lives at risk.”

Double-deck livestock trailers on the road today were built to meet the specific design and engineering requirements of short-necked livestock species, like cattle, sheep, and swine. Unfortunately, some irresponsible haulers use these trailers to transport horses, leading to inhumane travel conditions for equines and unsafe roadways for drivers. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the National Agriculture Safety Database (NASD) have recommended ceiling heights no lower than 7’–8’ to transport horses safely, while average double deck trailer ceiling heights range from 4’7” –5‘11”. The U.S. Department of Transportation only requires bridges to have a vertical clearance of 14′–16’ in rural and urban areas, making it impossible to build or modify a trailer large enough to transport equines on two levels.

“Double-decker trailers are designed for cattle and hogs, not horses,” said Senator Menendez. “This legislation would put a much needed end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in trailers with two or more levels stacked on top of each other, regardless of the purpose. Not only is this type of conveyance cruel, but it also jeopardizes safe roadway conditions for New Jerseyans and all of those who travel through our state.”

“AWI is pleased that Senator Kirk has reintroduced this important bill with his colleague Senator Menendez during the 113th Congress,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs at AWI. “The humane transportation of animals has long been a top priority for AWI and it is time to eliminate this inhumane practice with respect to horses.”

The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013 (S. 1459) is necessary to protect horses from being transported across the United States for any reason in a trailer having more than one level. To learn more about this issue or to write a letter to your senator in support of S. 1459, please visit www.CompassionIndex.org.

About AWI

The Animal Welfare Institute is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to alleviate the suffering caused to animals by humans. For more information, please visit AWI online at http://www.awionline.org. Also, be sure to follow AWI on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/animalwelfareinstitute and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AWIOnline.

Political savvy: A powerful weapon in horse slaughter fight

Source: BizPac Review

Victoria McCullough may have been born with a silver spoon, but she prefers a pitchfork and boots.

The only child of the late Rexford Davis, founder of the country’ s largest, privately held petroleum company,  McCullough says she has no idea of her net worth as Chesapeake Petroleum’s heir and reigning board chair, nor does she care.

A weekend show jumper, she can often be found mucking her horses’ stalls, even though she has a staff of 13 to do it for her. Three times a week, McCullough commutes from one of her two farms in Wellington, Fla., to Washington D.C., where she has a home in the Georgetown Ritz Carlton.

Hers is a life of privilege, but McCullough doesn’t take it for granted. Money can make you, break you or give you some vision, she says, and for her, it’s the latter. For her, it has helped fuel a passion for saving the animals that have given her such joy, and purpose.

Long before public outrage erupted over European beef products that contained horse meat, McCullough was hard at work ensuring that horses and the human food chain could never mix. At least, not in the United States.

“I found out in late 2007 that the U.S. was slaughtering 200,000 horses a year,” McCullough said. “Horses were being sent to auction, and the people buying them were contracted by foreign-owned companies, mostly Belgian.”

A lifelong animal lover and avid horsewoman, McCullough couldn’t believe it. Possessing both the means and motivation, McCullough set out to stop the practice.

She enlisted the help of state Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, to first tackle the issue on a state level. Together they crisscrossed Florida, bringing awareness of equine slaughter – a growing problem in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties — into the spotlight. In 2010, the Florida Legislature unanimously passed the Horse Protection Bill, making it a felony to slaughter horses for personal or commercial use.

McCullough’s name and reputation influenced the bill’s breezy passage, according to Abruzzo.

A bloody slaughter

When horses are purchased at auction by buyers intending to kill them, they are hauled away in double-decker tractor trailers, where they are beaten and often blinded with baseball bats to mollify them. After crossing the border into Mexico, the animals are stabbed on either side – an act said to tenderize the meat – and immobilized. Workers then saw the horses’ legs off at the knee and hang them so they bleed out. All while the animals are still alive.

Once slaughtered, the horse meat is sent to Europe and other countries, where it is considered a delicacy. Horses in the United States are not raised as a food source, and federal regulations ban specific substances from being administered to animals that are destined for the dinner table — everything from cattle to sheep.

While McCullough recognized she could not control what other cultures deem acceptable to eat, she felt she could have an impact on whether those animals were safe for human consumption — and horses from the Unites States are not. Most, if not all, have been give the anti-inflammatory painkiller phenylbutazone, known as bute, which causes cancer in humans.

“If you ban Chinese milk in the U.S., why would you export this product?” McCullough asked.

In 2008, she went to Sugarcreek, Ohio, to attend what was then one of the largest auctions in the country for horses intended for slaughter. She bought the entire auction – 82 horses. The group, whose average age was 3 years old, included everything from race horses to pleasure horses whose owners could not or would not carry them through the winter season.  The next year, she purchased 263 more horses and brought them to Wellington to expose the bloodshed.

To date, McCullough has rescued 1,800 horses.

She has now taken her fight to the federal level, where the fight to pass legislation comes with much tougher hurdles.  For 10 years, according to McCullough, elected officials have tried and failed to pass federal laws banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Typical measures make it through the House but die in the Senate.

ponyBut owning a petroleum company offers a level of access enjoyed by few. In 2011, McCullough happened to be at the same event as President Obama. She “quickly and briefly” filled him in, she said, and he told her he’d be on board to end the senseless slaughter. At her own expense, McCullough hired a lobbyist, and the campaign began.

In the budget slated to take effect Oct. 1, funding for equine slaughter-house inspectors has been stripped.

“There is no slaughter without inspectors,’” McCullough explained.

But that wasn’t enough of a guarantee for McCullough. What if a new administration came in and re-funded the inspectors?

Thanks to McCullough’s efforts, the Safeguard American Food Exports, or SAFE, Act is pending before Congress. The bill would prohibit slaughtering horses for human consumption in the United States and ban their export abroad. It has bipartisan support, something Abruzzo says McCullough is adept at winning.

“She’s extremely effective because she has the experience, respect and resources to get things done in Washington as well as work across party lines,” he said. “She’s not coming from a self-serving angle; she’s coming from a humanitarian and protection angle.”

Rescue a “favorite” part of life

Victoria McCulloughMcCullough’s interest in the horses doesn’t wane once she buys them. The animals, which will live out their lives with her, receive the same veterinary care, blacksmiths and feed as her expensive jumpers, who may occupy a neighboring stall in one of McCullough’s luxurious facilities. Walk through her barns and she rattles off the names and stories behind each rescue as though they are her children.  There’s Walter, a former rodeo horse sporting 12-foot scars from spurs ground into his sides; 35-year-old Jeffery, named for his striking resemblance to a giraffe; and Sundance, an energetic gelding who sticks his nose through the stall for a loving nuzzle. She even has a rescue donkey named Jesus that would have been used as filler meat, she said.

McCullough’s friends from politics and show jumping have stepped up and adopted many of the rescues. There are 60 farms in Wellington alone hosting some of the animals she saved.  She’s looking to buy a large farm in Maryland and convert it into a rescue facility. She formed a nonprofit, Triumph Project, to raise awareness.

“Rescue is one of my favorite parts of life,” she said. “I’m going to get that legislation [passed]. I guarantee you. We are human. We are expected to be humane.”

Read and COMMENT: http://www.bizpacreview.com/2013/07/18/political-savvy-a-powerful-weapon-in-horse-slaughter-fight-79868

Horse Slaughter Plants Set August 5 as Target to Begin Killing American Horses

A Call to Action by R.T. Fitch ~ co-founder/president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

If ever there was a time to contact your Congressman, NOW is that time!!

“Don’t Slaughter Us” ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Equine Advocates around the world are shocked and angry that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved applications for horse slaughter inspections at a predatory slaughter plant in Roswell, New Mexico, and another in Sigourney, Iowa.

There is also a distinct possibility that the USDA is likely to grant horse slaughter inspections at a plant in Gallatin, Missouri, in the coming days.

But thanks to the efforts of of Front Range Equine Rescue, the HSUS and others the killing will not start until after a scheduled court hearing on their lawsuit set for August 2nd. The plants attorney expects the slaughterhouses to prevail at the hearing and they are both planning to start slicing and dicing our companion horses on August 5th.

This gives us only two weeks to push our Congressional representatives to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act and shut down this horrendous specter hanging over our country’s equines once and for all.  (It will also protect unsuspecting humans from consuming toxic horsemeat.)

The ASPCA has made contacting your Congressman as painless as possible, simply click (HERE) and enter your zip code to be directed to a pre-filled in form that will be blasted to your Congressman asking that they support SAFE Act.

Please don’t delay, the horses are running out of time and YOU are the only voice they have. Contact your Congressman today!!!

USDA Approves Second Horse Slaughterhouse, But Renews Bid for Ban

Reposted from: http://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/07/03/usda-approves-second-horse-slaughterhouse-but-renews-bid-for-ban/

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” photo courtesy of Animal Law Coalition.com

The U.S. government approved a horse slaughter plant in Iowa on Tuesday, its second such move in four days, but it also renewed its appeal to Congress to ban the business and was hit by a lawsuit from animal welfare groups.

In a statement, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it was required by law to issue a “grant of inspection” to Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, because it met all federal requirements. USDA will also be obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant.

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” the USDA said in a statement. “Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law.”

An application from a Missouri company was also expected to win approval this week.

Valley Meats in Roswell, New Mexico, on Friday became the first horse plant to clear the USDA review process since a ban on horse slaughter ended in 2011.

Five animal welfare groups filed suit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to overturn the approvals, saying the Agriculture Department did not conduct environmental reviews before acting. The groups say horses are given medications not approved for livestock so the waste products of slaughter plants may include pollutants.

“America is the original home of the horse and has never been a horse-eating culture,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom, one of the litigants. “Horses have been our companions, fought battles with us, worked sun-up to sundown by our sides … we will not abandon them now.”

Horse meat cannot be sold as food in the United States, but it can be exported. The meat is sold for human consumption in ChinaRussiaMexico and other countries and is sometimes used as feed for zoo animals.

Nearly 159,000 horses were exported from the United States to Canada and Mexico during 2012, most likely for slaughter, officials said.

Congress effectively banned horse slaughter in 2006 by saying the USDA could not spend any money to inspect the plants. Without USDA inspectors, slaughterhouses cannot operate.

The ban had been extended a year at a time as part of USDA funding bills, but the language was omitted in 2011.

Lawmakers may vote in coming weeks on horse slaughter as part of its work on Agriculture Department funding. In addition, two freestanding bills would ban horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter.

Groups have argued for years whether a ban on slaughter would save horses from an inhumane death or cause owners to abandon animals they no longer want or cannot afford to feed and treat for illness.

It was not known how soon Valley Meats or Responsible Transportation would begin operation. A spokesman for Responsible Transportation was not immediately available for comment.

Responsible Transportation said on its website that there are 90,000 to 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States annually.

“We believe it is our responsibility to restore the value of the horse industry,” it said.

Related Articles

Lawyers behind decision to allow plant inspections – Pacelle

     (horsetalk.co.nz)

USDA to Grant Horse Meat Inspections

USDA Bucks Administration, Sec of Ag, Congress, Senate and John Q Public in Embracing Predatory Horse Slaughter

Press release from Equine Welfare Alliance.  DO NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT TO SAVE THESE HORSE AND BURROS!

OK City Billboard courtesy of Respect 4 Horses and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

OK City Billboard courtesy of Respect 4 Horses and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

EWA (Chicago) – The Equine Welfare Alliance has learned from multiple sources that the USDA will announce a grant of horse meat inspections to the Valley Meats Company in Roswell, NM tomorrow. The plant has been involved in litigation with the USDA, accusing it of intentionally delaying a grant of inspections. The EWA has further learned that announcements will be made next week granting inspections to plants in Iowa and Missouri. Friday, June 28th, was a deadline set by the court for a response from the USDA in the litigation.

The House and Senate appropriations committees have both passed amendments to the 2014 USDA budget that would prohibit funding for such inspections, in essence banning horse slaughter in the U.S. The administration andSecretary of Agriculture Vilsack have requested that they not be funded. If the USDA budget in the House and Senate receives a vote, EWA is assured it will pass in both chambers, and the plants would again lose inspectors and be forced to close at the end of October.

The inspections were first defunded in 2007, but all three foreign plants then operating in Illinois and Texas had already been shut down by state laws before the courts had decided on challenges to the defunding. Essentially the defunding simply kept the plants from moving to other states.

Funding was restored in 2011 when the House passed a defunding amendment, but the Senate did not. A four member conference committee then reinstated the funding by a three to one vote. Since the reinstatement several plants have requested that they be granted inspections. How soon any of these companies might begin slaughtering horses is unclear. Valley Meats still must obtain a water discharge permit in order to begin operations, and there is some question about other permits. The New Mexico Environmental Department is expected to hold a public hearing on the Valley Meats discharge permit within 30 days.

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) is a dues-free 501c4, umbrella organization with over 290 member organizations and over 1,000 individual members worldwide in 21 countries. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.www.equinewelfarealliance.org

New York Lawmakers Press for Horse Slaughter Ban

Eighty percent of Americans overwhelmingly oppose slaughtering horses according to polls conducted by Lake Research Partners for the ASPCA

Bobby II Freedom, a New York City carriage horse rescued from slaughter by Equine Advocates in Chatham, NY

Whether or not to slaughter horses for human consumption has been a frequent topic of debate ever since Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri and two colleagues with close ties to the beef industry surreptitiously altered a 2012 omnibus spending bill banning the practice.

That maneuver, which Senator Blunt also employed to add the “Monsanto Protection Act” language to a more recent spending bill, opened the door for horse slaughter inspections to resume in the U.S. after a long absence. Without federal funding for inspectors, slaughter houses cannot operate.

With the end of New York’s legislative session in sight, lawmakers from across New York are working to ban horses from being slaughtered for human consumption, calling the practice exceptionally cruel and a threat to human health.

On June 4, they came together with hundreds of supporters for the third annual NY State Animal Advocacy Day at the legislative office building in Albany, NY. It was the second rally in support of the ban on slaughter—called “Safe Horse New York”—in two weeks.

That legislation would not only ban slaughtering horses, but transporting them to slaughter according to its sponsors, Democratic Assemblymember Deborah Glick (New York City) and Republican Senator Kathy Marchione (Saratoga County). The sale or purchase of horse meat would also be prohibited.

California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas ban horse slaughter while Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Oregon have all recently acted to open up slaughter facilities. Other states, besides New York, are also considering bans and a federal ban—Safeguard American Food Exports (or SAFE)—is gaining sponsors on Capitol Hill.

Eighty percent of Americans overwhelmingly oppose slaughtering horses according to polls conducted by Lake Research Partners for the ASPCA. A majority of horse owners are opposed, including many in the racing industry, as well as people polled in states seeking to open slaughter houses for horses. Public and Congressional opposition to horse slaughter cuts across party and gender lines.

“People understand the significance of horses, the service they provide,” stated Assemblymember Jim Tedisco, a co-sponsor of Glick’s bill who discussed horses’ contributions, not just to racing and building the U.S., including the Erie Canal, but as therapy animals for disabled children and adults as well as U.S. veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“People don’t realize the drugs the horses are taking are also getting into the food chain,” Tedisco noted…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of this in depth report and comment at Forbes

White House Recommends Removal of Horse Slaughter Funding in Proposed 2014 Budget

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Animal welfare organizations support move to block spending

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress could once again ban the use of federal funds to inspect horse slaughter plants in the United States if it follows the lead of the White House—a move that is strongly supported by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal includes a request for Congress to block spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect U.S. horse slaughter plants. A similar spending prohibition was put in place in 2005, which effectively shut the door to the grisly horse slaughter industry on U.S. soil. However, it was not renewed in 2011, leading to the potential for horse slaughter plants to reopen in the U.S at the expense of American taxpayers.

There are no horse slaughter facilities operating in the U.S., but the USDA confirms it has received at least six applications and is processing those requests. Humane organizations oppose the slaughter of American horses for human consumption because the practice is inherently cruel to horses. Additionally, horse meat poses a potential human health risk, as horses are not raised for food in the U.S. and are consequently treated with a wide range of drugs that are not approved for use in animals intended for human consumption.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said: “It’s a fool’s errand to inspect tainted horse meat, and this Administration is wise to reject that path and to embrace the idea, even indirectly, that horses belong in the stable and not on the table.”

Nancy Perry, senior vice president of the ASPCA, said: “It is wonderful to see our government taking steps to ensure American horses are not slaughtered on our own soil for foreign demand, especially in light of the daily news from Europe about the horrors of discovering horse meat in their food supply from co-mingling with beef in tainted food products. Wasting tax dollars on cruel and dangerous practices makes no sense, and we urge Congress to adopt this cut.”

Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI, said: “Now that the administration has taken this important step toward ending horse abuse, reducing the size of the federal government, and saving taxpayer dollars, we urge Congress to swiftly ensure this widely supported language is maintained when sent back to the president for his signature later this year. Given the serious fiscal choices facing our elected officials in Washington, restoring an unpopular foreign driven horse slaughter industry that only serves to drain taxpayers’ money every year, this should be the easiest spending cut they can approve.”

The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, introduced this year by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is a bipartisan measure that would prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.

Background:

  • American horses are raised to be companions, athletes and work horses. They are often treated with drugs, both legal and illegal, that can endanger the food supply. There is currently no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses throughout their lives to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption.
  • “Kill buyers” gather up horses from random sources and profit by selling horsemeat from healthy horses that bring the best price per pound for their meat. USDA reports show that approximately 92 percent of American horses going to slaughter are healthy and would otherwise be able to go on to lead productive lives.
  • The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endurerepeated blows to render them unconscious, and sometimes remain conscious during the slaughtering process. When horse slaughter plants previously operated in the U.S., the USDA documented severe injuries to horses incurred during their long-distance transport to slaughter plants in unsafe, overcrowded trailers, including broken bones and eyeballs hanging from their sockets by a thread of skin.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Do We Owe the Horse? Government Considering Slaughterhouse Proposal

Michael D'Antonio , from The Huffington Post

Last week a video appeared on YouTube showing a man cursing animal rights activists, then leading a friendly, fit-looking horse out of a pen, and shooting it dead with a single pistol shot between its eyes. (The horse was so tame it quietly stepped toward the pistol, and dipped its head to receive a scratch, in the moment before the shot.)

Tim Sappington is employed by a meatpacking company that has proposed to start slaughtering horses in New Mexico, bringing the practice back to American soil. The video inflamed opponents to the slaughterhouse. Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Company, said he received so many threatening phone calls that he hired a security company to protect himself and his business.

In New Mexico, no law prevents a man from killing his own horse if the act is carried out humanely. Local officials declared that Sappington did kill humanely. However it’s hard to imagine that anyone who saw the video, felt anything but anger at the man and sorrow for the horse. In 21st-century America, at least, killing a horse for meat, or to prove it can be done “humanely,” breaks a compact that has grown stronger even as the horse has disappeared from most of our lives.

Check the news on any given day there’s a good chance you’ll see something about a horse. Last summer it was Ann Romney’s dressage champion Rafalca, which Steven Colbert playfully mocked for its performance in Olympic “horse prancing.” After Rafalca came a runaway carriage horse in Manhattan. More recently a horsemeat scandal swallowed-up the Swedish meatball business at all the in-store eateries operated by IKEA.

Beyond the news, horses show up regularly in our art. After a solid Broadway run and a Tony award for best play, War Horse is selling-out a national tour. The portrait show dubbed ”most beautiful” of the season by The New York Times is Charlotte Dumas’s exhibit of photos Army horses at Arlington National Cemetery. In March artist Nick Cave thrilled commuters with performances of dancers on horse costumes at Grand Central Station.

For millennia, people have anthropomorphized the horse and it’s now almost impossible for us to avoid reading some feeling into a snort, a twitch, or the blink of an eye. Current research supports at least some of our interpretations. From Iain Douglas-Hamilton’s study of grieving elephants toThe Emotional Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff, the argument for the idea that other species experience deep feelings gets stronger every day. Those of us who have experienced the varied “personalities” of animals know this research will eventually lead to a general agreement that many species have feelings similar to ours. From this realization it is a short step to profound questions about our duty to the animals we have domesticated.

The human response to the horse suggests that as he was evolving in relationship to us, we were adapting to him. Survival of the fittest might well have included survival of those humans who could work with the horse. Human beings who excelled at the care and training of horses enjoyed obvious advantages and were more likely to thrive and, consequently, love the horse.

If we have evolved to bond with the horse on an emotional level, then our feelings explain this animal’s continuing presence on our streets, in the pages of the newspapers, and in our art. This relationship also explains why one of the few recent bipartisan initiatives in Congress is a proposed ban on both horse slaughter and the export of American horses to countries where they may be killed for meat. In the House, the bill was sponsored by Republican Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania and Democrat Jan Schakowsky. In the Senate it was proposed by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Mary Landrieu, who noted ”there’s no humane way to slaughter a horse.”

Considering their innate wariness and sharp senses, there may not be a humane way to slaughter horses, which is why the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Animal Welfare Institute and the American Humane Society support the proposed bans. Polls show a consistent majority of Americans also oppose horse slaughter. Local community opposition led to the closing of the last three horse slaughterhouses in the country in 2007. However in recent months Valley Meat’s effort to resume the practice in the United States has brought the prospect of horse slaughter into the public area.

Valley Meat’s owners and workers like Tim Sappington are backed by those horse owners who views meat sales an economic boon. Also, a number of breeders, trainers, and riders consider old, sick, injured, and unwanted horses and say that a slaughterhouse operated humanely is a good, practical option. For support they turn to the famous animal science professor Temple Grandin who says “using animals for food or agriculture or pets is acceptable,” and she has developed rules for humane horse slaughterhouses. This is the type of facility — quiet, efficient, painless — the meat industry presents as it seeks to resume horse meat production.

The “pro” side of the slaughter argument also raises the value of horse protein and other products of rendering that could benefit humanity. This point of view is often presented as a firmer, but kinder perspective and a practical alternative that reduces the abuse and neglect of unwanted animals.

Unwanted horses are sometimes abused and neglected and left to suffer and starve. At the height of the current economic crisis, reports of abandoned horses sent a wave of worry through the ranks of animal welfare advocates. However, this problem has abated and experience doesn’t support the notion that slaughter prevents neglect. California saw no rise in neglect cases after it banned slaughter in 1998. This pattern was repeated when slaughter was stopped Illinois. Similarly, the facts do not support the notion that slaughter is mainly a way to dispose of horses that are no longer fit. When Americans still killed horses for meat, 92 percent of the animals were judged to be in good condition. Indeed, anyone who ever attended an auction where horses are sold for meat would have seen that the animals on offer were generally healthy, strong, and spirited. Some were so friendly they pestered auctioneers for affection.

The sight of a healthy, pretty horse seeming to flirt with an auctioneer who is selling him for meat captures the problem of horse slaughter in a single frame. Temple Grandin, who has applied herself to reforming the slaughter of cattle with some success, seems to straddle the line on the issue of using American horses as meat as she says, “It’s a less bad option to slaughter them here,” than in unregulated facilities abroad.

But is the “less bad” option the right one? Does it resolve the question: What do we owe the horse? In 2011, at a conference called The Summit of the Horse, Grandin suggested alternatives that amount to reduced breeding and a more concerted effort to help owners who can no longer meet their obligations to a hungry creature that can live for thirty years. Speaking of animals in general, Grandin has said, “Whether it is cattle or dogs we have got to give them a good life.” When it comes to horses, we’re struggling to decide what the end of a good life should be. Tim Sappington’s homemade video didn’t answer the question.

Read the full article and COMMENT here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-dantonio/what-do-we-owe-the-horse-_b_3009324.html

Market for U.S. Horse Meat Plunges in Wake of Burger-Gate

Vickery Eckhoff

Covering the underground horse meat trade since 2011.

 

Five states looking to snag millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to inspect horse meat plants may want to rethink their plans in light of a precipitous drop in demand.

The drop is a reflection of the number of horses going from the U.S. to Mexico for slaughter. That number plummeted 62% in the first quarter of 2013 following a steady two-year increase, USDA figures show.

U.S. horses were slaughtered in greater numbers in Canada and Mexico from 2007 onward, with the meat exported to the European Union (EU) and Russia.

But all that changed in late January of this year, when the public learned of horse meat hidden inside Burger King Whoppers, IKEA meatballs, Buitoni frozen lasagna and other prepared foods across Europe and in the rest of the world. The adulteration of beef with horse meat had gone undetected for years, authorities say.

“We have been watching the numbers of U.S. horses slaughtered closely, because we knew they would tell us how much of the meat from our horses was being sold as beef,” states John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance.

How much? A great deal of it, Holland says.

The discovery of horse meat sold as beef explains why more U.S horses were being exported for slaughter despite a decade-long slump in direct consumption of horse meat in the EU. More than 160,000 U.S. horses were slaughtered for their meat in 2012.

The sales of processed beef products have dropped in EU countries in the wake of the comingling scandal, where consumers intentionally buying horse meat were already cutting back.

“Any drop in horse meat sales is most likely attributable to it no longer being sold as beef,” Holland concludes.

Read the full story and COMMENT here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vickery-eckhoff/market-for-us-horse-meat-_b_3021192.html

USDA Horsemeat Inspections Funded Through 2013

Federal legislation intended to fund U.S. government agencies will continue provide revenue for USDA inspections at horse processing plants located in the United States through September 2013. The current federal continuing funding resolution that also included USDA expired on March 27.

Every year since 2006, lawmakers had denied funding for USDA meat inspections at horse processing plants in the United States. The lack of funding eliminated food safety certifications necessary for U.S.-produced horsemeat products to be exported Europe and other offshore markets. As a result, the defunding figured significantly in operators’ decisions to close the last U.S.-based horse processing plant in 2007. Thereafter, U.S. horses were exported to processing facilities in Mexico and Canada. In November 2011, Congress passed an appropriations bill that did not include language specifically forbidding the USDA from using federal dollars to fund horse slaughter plant inspections. Since then, the owners of the Valley Meat Co., LLC, in New Mexico have applied for a USDA inspection permit, which remains pending. In addition, according to published reports, operators of prospective plants in several other states have also applied for inspection permits. Currently no horse slaughter plants are currently operating in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

EU Will Not Accept Imported United States Horse Meat

Source: Jo Singer of Petside.com

“by virtue of commission decision 2011/163/EU the US is not authorized to export horsemeat to the EU.”

Kayla Reeves with Troy, Haflinger gelding 2012 Just a week ago Petside featured an article about the high probability of horse slaughter facilities soon opening in the United States to produce meat for human consumption.

In 2006 Congress defunded USDA horse and horse meat inspection, closing the doors of the three remaining foreign-owned slaughter plants producing meat for human consumption which was exported to Europe and other countries outside the United States. However, in 2011, Congress stripped the defunding language for USDA horse and horse meat inspection, leaving the doors wide open for slaughter facilities in the United States to start killing horses for their meat for humans.

At the present, however, the sale of horse meat for human diners in the United States remains illegal. As a result should the horse meat slaughter facilities open to produce human-grade horse meat, they must export the meat to Europe and other countries that consider horse meat a delicacy.

But since racehorses, and those that compete in strenuous events in a wide variety of other sports are frequently injured, to alleviate their pain they are given powerful anti-inflammatory drugs such as Phenylbutazone (Bute) and flunixin meglumine (Banamine) which are highly toxic to humans. Horses regularly are administered wormers and other medications that are dangerous to humans. Additionally since horses have never been bred for food, often records of the drugs administered to them are scanty, or don’t accompany them when they go to sale. So how can we assure the safety of their meat?

We are more than aware of the frenzy caused by the recent discovery of horse meat contaminating many food products throughout Europe. What is even more alarming to Europeans were the traces of Bute that were found in some food products contaminated with horse meat.

As a result of the growing concern about the safety of U.S. horse meat, commercial establishments that are getting hungry to either retool their existing slaughterhouses, or start building slaughter horse facilities will not be able to sell horse meat to EU; the primary market for U.S. horse meat.

According to Straight from the Horse’s Heart the Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) has received confirmation from EU authorities that “by virtue of commission decision 2011/163/EU the US is not authorized to export horsemeat to the EU.”

Making matters even more alarming, according to USA Today, in an interview with Reuters, Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture said that the sequestration with its concomitant meat inspector furloughs might result in sporadic food shortages if inspectors are not available to examine poultry, egg products and meat. Having to provide horse meat inspectors would further amplify the necessity of protecting US consumers. Secretary Vilsack said he hoped the Government could find an alternative to horse slaughter; a statement that was rather shocking to many folks.

But even though the confirmation received by EWA may be shine a ray of light for the 80 percent of people in the our country who abhor American horse slaughter; now is the time that we must keep up pressure on Congress for them to restore the defunding language which will effectively ban USDA horse meat inspection…(CONTINUED)

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Jay Hovdey: Slaughter once again a hot, polarizing topic

So it’s once again into the breach, with federal legislation that would effectively ban the horse slaughter business in the United States introduced this week in Washington, D.C., by a collection of senators and representatives who would give the effort a gloss of bipartisan suport, if there still is such a thing.

The Safeguard American Food Exports Act (SAFE) is sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Reps. Jan Shakowsky (D-Ill.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.). Positioned to amend the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, the bill first will be taken up by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

On the face of it, the SAFE Act seems timed to take advantage of the international uproar over the contamination of some packaged European foods with unregulated horse meat. In fact, the bill has been in the works for the better part of a year and finds itself injected into a equally heated domestic climate, with a lawsuit effort in New Mexico to reopen a slaughterhouse and legislation moving rapidly to encourage a slaughter industry in the state of Oklahoma.

There is not now nor ever has been a federal ban on horse slaughter. In fact, there is a thriving horse slaughter business in the U.S. even though slaughter plants have been idle since 2007, when USDA inspections were defunded. Estimates indicate that upward of 150,000 horses of all breeds are purchased and hauled across state lines to slaughter facilities in Mexico and Canada each year, some of it done legally, some of it not, depending on where the horses originate and which state lines are crossed.

The defunding for inspections was lifted in 2011, based largely on conclusions drawn from a U.S. Government Accountability Office report that cited anecdotal evidence from veterinarians as to a growing number of abandoned horses. Ever since then there have been efforts to get the horse slaughter industry rolling again.

Polls indicate that around 80 percent of Americans oppose the slaughter of horses and are even surprised it is an issue. For most of those polled I would imagine the idea is abstract, residing in the same morally distasteful category as child labor or blatant racial discrimination.

However, the reality of horse slaughter draws sharp battle lines between those who support slaughter as a justifiably monetized end-use for a domestic animal and those who oppose the practice as a cruel violation of a deeply held cultural taboo. The introduction of the SAFE Act means those sides will be gearing up again, so in the spirit of following what is sure to be a fascinating political process, here are a couple of spectator tips:

Give a wide berth to anyone who uses the word “process” or “harvest” each time you ask them about “slaughter.” Processing is to slaughter what “enhanced interrogation” is to torture, as in:

“AQHA believes that reinstituting domestic horse processing will improve the economics of the horse industry by reintroducing a base price for horses and it will give owners one more option to have available should they need it,” according to former American Quarter Horse Association president Peter J. Cofrancesco.

Question the assumption that the lack of a domestic horse slaughter industry over the past six years has resulted in an increase of mistreated and abandoned horses. As Vickery Eckhoff writes in Forbes.com:

“The argument tying abandonment to slaughter is being used specifically because nobody knows where the horses come from. Nobody ever mentions the more likely motivation that someone might wish to avoid taking them to auction because they are afraid they will go to slaughter, or they are afraid their sorry condition will be seen and reported.”

And do not be surprised to learn that the American Association of Equine Practitioners, supposedly representing the industry’s front-line veterinarians, is just fine with the idea of domestic horse slaughter, at least according to its latest position statement:

“The AAEP recognizes that the processing of unwanted horses is currently a necessary aspect of the equine industry, and provides a humane alternative to allowing the horse to continue a life of discomfort and pain, and possibly inadequate care or abandonment.”

But do give the AAEP extra credit for working both “processing” and “unwanted horses” into its party line.

In the past, there have been some groups in the Thoroughbred racing industry coming off a little wishy-washy over wholehearted support of an end to the U.S. horse slaughter business, despite the towering influence of activist owner-breeders like the late John Hettinger. With the introduction of SAFE, they have another chance to step up. When contacted this week National Thoroughbred Racing Association president and CEO Alex Waldrop seemed to be heading that way.

“The NTRA opposes the slaughter of Thoroughbreds for human consumption,” Waldrop wrote in an email communication. “We have not taken a position on the most recent legislation but will continue to focus our efforts on providing all horse owners with safe, reliable retirement and retraining alternatives.”

Anyone who has read this space in the past knows where this reporter stands, which is firmly alongside those who view horse slaughter for human consumption as a fundamental violation of a promise made to a sentient creature who is bred and raised to be a domestic companion or a performance athlete. Yes, they cost a lot, they get sick, and they sometimes hang in the shadow of the wire with a pick five on the line. They still deserve a decent end to a life they did not choose.

View this article and comment here: http://www.drf.com/news/jay-hovdey-slaughter-once-again-hot-polarizing-topic Follow Jay on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JayHovdey

Protect Our Nation’s Horses and Food Safety Reputation

Crucial new legislation was introduced in Congress this week that will protect consumers from toxic horsemeat and end the cruel slaughter of America’s horses, titled the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1094/S. 541.

Horse slaughter is fraught with terror, pain, and suffering and the plants have a history of polluting local water supplies, lowering property values, and are a drain on local economies. These animals are not raised for food and over the course of their lives are given a wide variety of drugs and veterinary treatments that make their meat unfit for human consumption.

TAKE ACTION Please make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators to urge co-sponsorship of H.R. 1094/S. 541, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act. Look up your legislators’ phone numbers here. You can say: “I would like you to please co-sponsor and support H.R. 1094/S. 541, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to protect our nation’s horses and food safety reputation.”

After making your phone call (please do not skip that crucial step!), fill in and submit the form at the link below to automatically send a follow-up message to your members of Congress. Legislators receive a lot of email, so be sure to edit your message so it stands out.

https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5933&s_src=web_hp_bb1_031313#.UUCpHrPZtFk.facebook

Members of Congress, National Animal Welfare Groups, Veterinarian, Equestrians Gather to Protect Horses and American Public

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest applaud U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., for introducing bipartisan legislation that would stop the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses across the U.S. border for slaughter in Canada and Mexico. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a grisly foreign industry that produces unsafe food for consumers.

Horses are raised for use in show, sport, work and recreation in the U.S. and are regularly administered drugs that are expressly prohibited by current federal regulations for use in animals intended for human consumption. For example, a common pain reliever routinely administered to all types of horses, Phenylbutazone, is known to cause potentially fatal human diseases. There is no known safe level for consumption of these drug residues in horse meat. A recent New York Times article emphasized the hodgepodge of drugs used in race horses—including cobra venom and cocaine—and the resulting food safety threats. Thousands of these horses are sold at auction for slaughter within days of their last race, resulting in potentially toxic horse meat being sent overseas. There are also many substances and drugs regularly used on horses that have never been tested for their effects on humans and the potential danger of ingesting these chemicals is completely unknown. Horses are gathered from random sources, and there is currently no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its plan to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at a New Mexico facility. If the application is approved, Valley Meat Company LLC will be the first facility in the U.S. to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed and Congress chose to suspend funding for any further horse meat inspections. This surprising move toward a resumption of domestic horse slaughter comes in the wake of the scandal unfolding in the European Union, where consumers have been alarmed by the discovery of horse meat mislabeled as beef in prepared food products ranging from lasagna to meatballs. The federal government could potentially spend millions of taxpayer dollars to open new horse slaughter plants at a time when spending cuts associated with the sequester could curtail food safety inspections for U.S. meat products. Additionally, if horse slaughter plants are opened in the U.S., it will be more difficult to prevent this kind of comingling between horse meat and beef products that has occurred in Europe.

Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations, said, “The overwhelming majority of Americans are intensely opposed to the cruel practice of horse slaughter, and we thank the sponsors of the SAFE Act for their efforts to protect not only public health, but also safeguard our nation’s equines. The shocking discovery of horse meat in mislabeled beef products across Europe underscores the threat to American health that could result should horse slaughter proponents be successful in bringing this grisly practice back to the United States. Now is the time for Congress to permanently ban domestic horse slaughter and the export of our horses to neighboring countries for slaughter. We must prevent even one more horse from suffering this terrible fate.”

Chris Heyde, deputy director, Government and Legal Affairs of AWI, said, “When AWI first brought this issue to Congress and the American public, horse slaughter was a dirty practice that no responsible horse owner wanted to admit even existed.  While the issue is now in the public eye, no one who cares about horses thinks it is humane to slaughter them.  The only individuals advocating for horse slaughter are those who profit from the suffering of these amazing animals.  Like the industry they protect, deception is key.  They are willing to mislead and deceive anyone who advocates for the welfare of American horses.  I want them to know today, that everyone supporting the bill will not stop fighting against this cruelty until all of our horses are safe from slaughter.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said, “The arguments of the horse meat industry are unraveling before the eyes of the world. Congress must take action to prevent the spending of millions of American tax dollars on a marginal industry that peddles tainted horse meat to foreign consumers and seeks to do so at home, too.”

Sarah Klein, senior attorney in the Food Safety Program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said, “American horses are not raised for food, and shouldn’t wind up on consumers’ plates. Horse meat often carries residues from drugs that are not safe for consumers.”

In addition to the public health concerns associated with the consumption of horse meat, horse slaughter is inherently inhumane.  The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endure repeated stuns or blows and sometimes remain conscious during their slaughter and dismemberment. These equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest, in dangerously overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners.

Rep. Meehan said, “Horses are not bred for human consumption. Horses are routinely treated with drugs over the course of their lifetimes that are toxic to humans if ingested. At a time when the U.S. Department of Agriculture is threatening to furlough meat inspectors due to budget cuts, American taxpayers should not be subsidizing horse meat inspections for the foreign export market.”

Rep. Schakowsky said, “Horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment. We must fight those practices. The SAFE Act of 2013 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve.”

Sen. Landrieu said, “The practice of horse slaughter for human consumption is revolting to me as a horse owner, but also as a consumer. Horses are not raised for human consumption, and they are frequently treated with drugs and chemicals that are toxic when ingested by humans. Especially in light of the European horse meat contamination scandals, we must ensure that our food supply at home is not tainted with horse meat, nor should we supply an unsafe food product to foreign industries. I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce the SAFE Act to end the slaughter of one of the world’s most beloved animals and help protect public health.”

Past congressional actions on horse slaughter have demonstrated a strong, bipartisan desire to prohibit the killing of horses for human consumption, but Congress has failed to permanently end the export of live horses to neighboring countries for slaughter. Numerous state legislatures have already acted to stop horse slaughter, resulting in the closure of the last three remaining horse slaughter plants in the country in 2007. Most recently, New Jersey enacted a measure prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as well as the sale and transport of horse meat for human consumption. The SAFE Act was introduced with a strong list of bipartisan original cosponsors.

The passage of this legislation is a priority for the nation’s leading animal welfare organizations, as well as many veterinarians and equine groups across the country, including the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and Veterinarians for Equine Welfare. A January 2012 national poll commissioned by the ASPCA confirms that 80 percent of American voters oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

Read the rest of this entry »

Have we lost our horse sense?

Our fascinating history with the horse faces a jarring test: Will Congress ban horse meat, yea or neigh?

BY 

Have we lost our horse sense?Gene Autry and Champion.

A 2007 federal ban against equine slaughterhouses followed a nationwide outcry over the federal government’s roundup of some wild horses, which wound up on the killing floor. Such things had happened many times over, but this time, in a different age, the atrocities were under more intense scrutiny. The term “atrocities” is not hyperbole, as witnesses to what goes on in and around slaughterhouses have stated.

The ban lapsed in 2011. But ever since it was enacted, there were efforts to reopen “rendering plants” for horses, and in recent weeks, they seem to have finally succeeded. A bill to authorize slaughterhouses in Oklahoma is advancing quickly, and New Mexico is now trying to harvest what some view as an untapped cash crop. The states will need the USDA to once again agree to inspect the plants and their horsemeat, and reports suggest that the USDA is poised to do just that. The White House, meanwhile, has asked Congress to reinstate the ban, and some representatives are starting to speak up in support, as Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., did Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse slaughterhouse plan needs to be put down

by Bonnie Erbe, Scripps Howard News Service

Here we go again. The soulless, heartless humans who make their living by slaughtering horses have managed to convince Congress and this supposedly liberal president to open up horse slaughterhouses once more.

The plants were banned in 2007 and blissfully became a thing of the past. They should still be in the past, but for the work of Montana’s Democratic Sen. Max Baucus and other pro-slaughter lawmakers.

Baucus was able to hang an amendment onto an omnibus spending bill that put horse slaughterhouses back in our future.

He routinely receives thousands of dollars in contributions from the meat industry and brags on his website, “Baucus Awarded ‘Meat Exporter of the Year.’” There’s no better example of blood money, and it’s a sorry development. Read the rest of this entry »