US agriculture bill could bury horse slaughter plans

| 25 December 2013 9:03 am
Mike Markarian

Mike Markarian

A wide-ranging agriculture bill set to be dealt with by Congress in mid-January could bury plans to resume horse slaughter on US soil.

Three plants in the US have approval from the US Department of Agriculture to slaughter horses, but the upcoming agriculture bill could again defund the federal plant inspections required for abattoirs to slaughter horses for human consumption.

Its passage would mean such plants could not operate on US soil, reinstating a prohibition that had been in place from 2007 to 2011.

The House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills include identical language that would stop the inspection.

The wording was added during committee markup in both chambers, and was requested for the first time by the US Department of Agriculture in the president’s budget.

One plant, set up by Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, New Mexico, said it could open its doors as soon as January 1.

Michael Markarian, the chief program and policy officer of the Humane Society of the United States and president of The Fund for Animals, said the law change was urgently needed, given the pending opening of horse slaughter plants in the US.

“It makes no sense for the federal government to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to oversee new horse slaughter plants at a time when Congress is so focused on fiscal responsibility,” he said.

“The shocking discovery of horse meat in beef products in Europe underscores the potential threat to American health if horse slaughter plants open here.”

Markarian said horse slaughter was cruel and cannot be made humane, adding that there was wide public opposition to the practice.

“The horse slaughter industry is a predatory, inhumane enterprise. They don’t ‘euthanize’ old horses, but precisely the opposite: they buy up young and healthy horses, often by misrepresenting their intentions, and kill them to sell the meat to Europe and Japan.

“We’re pressing to have the horse slaughter provision sustained in the omnibus bill that Congress plans to act on by January 15 to avoid another government shutdown.”

The US Department of Agriculture’s approvals to date for three plants also face a legal challenge, with the humane society and other horse advocates arguing the agency should not have given approval without first obtaining a proper environmental impact report.

The action resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing plants opening, but this was lifted recently by a judge, opening the way for plants to open as the case made its way through the court system.

The last slaughter plant closed in the US in 2007, in Illinois.

However, the absence of slaughter facilities in the US saw a sharp rise in the number of horses being trucked long distances to abattoirs in Canada and Mexico.

Slaughter supporters say regulated abattoirs in the US would be more humane than trucking horses to unregulated plants in Mexico. They argue the lack of slaughter facilities in the US has been behind a rise in horse neglect.

Opponents say slaughter is cruel and there is no such thing as a humane slaughter plant for horses. They say the poor economy is behind a rise in neglect cases, not the lack of slaughter facilities. They say overbreeding plays a significant part in the problem.


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Comments (29)

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  1. Terri Russell says:

    i Wish They Would Just Do Away With Horse Slaughter And The Transport To Slaughter Altogether. As A Tax Payer, I Don’t want My Tax Money To Go To Finding And SUpportng These Horrendous Businesses.

  2. Vicky Johnson says:

    U.S. unregulated horses were trucked to Canada and Mexico by the thousands – even when the U.S. slaughter plants were operating here. It won’t stop until the SAFE Act is passed which would prohibit U.S. horses from any slaughter system – and rightly so since they are NOT regulated as food here. The claim by some that abuse or neglect has increased because there are no slaughter facilities is a spin – U.S. unregulated horses are ‘still’ being slaughtered in Canada and Mexico and labeled as Canadian and Mexican! Please take note folks – as stated in this article, that the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills include identical language! The corrupt horse slaughter cartel will be doing everything they can to remove or change it! Even though our government claims it has no money and continues to reduce staff and programs, the horse slaughter cartel wants U.S. taxpayer money allocated for inspections for horses that Americans don’t eat and that aren’t even regulated as food. It has been reported that each plant would cost taxpayers $400,000 a year for inspections – at a time when just recently they were threatening to stop inspections of animals we do eat – for lack of funds.

    • Nancy Albin says:

      Thank You Vicky Johnson when are you running for President you have my vote! unbelievable isn’t it how our leaders continue to decieve the American People/. Please don’t stop fighting for the rights of these horses because we are next government ran country not listening to the American People I never thought i’d see this day .. well Keep it up thanx your new friend Nancy

    • Terri Davison says:

      Indeed, just as you state there is no increase in the abuse and neglect of horses in the absense of slaughter facilities. Within a relatively short distance of Canadian slaughter plants can be found documented cases of abuse and neglect.

  3. kitty finnigan says:

    Thank you for writing this article. We are facing a huge monster in the face and the more information, talking and reporting we do the easier it will be to slaughter the monster instead of the vulnerable horses.

  4. Carol Lynn Lucas says:

    I sure hope this happens…I live close to Bouvry Exports in Fort MacLeod, Alberta…this is a hellhouse for horses….it is so degrading to see all the pretty horses in holding awaiting slaughter…it is sickening..hopefully the Safe Act will be passed which will stop the cruelty of transport which leads to an inhumane death and finally stop the trafficing of horses to Canada and Mexico…the horse is part of our Heritage and instead of honoring them our government destroys them…

  5. Elaine Brown says:

    The expenditure of American Taxes for private profit by the production of a potentially poisonous product to be sold in foreign markets is ludicrous.

  6. Tracey Williamson says:

    I would really like to see Canada, the EU, and others who think they want horse meat to evolve, wise up and stop the demand. I am really hoping we get it shut down here, but until these other places stop this horrid business we will still have sleazy kill buyers, horses stolen and horses suffering. Greedy over breeding must stop. The whole thing is ridiculous, and the politicians who support it, need to be gone. The farm bureaus and others who support slaughter and these greedy over breeders need to be shown it will not be tolerated. Watch for sleazy Roy Blunt to remove the language in the bill….despicable man.

  7. Pennell Hopkins says:

    Prior to US slaughter plants closing there are many documented violations of the Slaughter Transport Act, horrible injuries and horses unfit to travel. Inspectors were lax in reporting, but enough reports were made and charges pressed against the transporters, to confirm that horse slaughter here was not humane and considering the people in the industry, there will be no improvement if US slaughter plants opened. Looking at Valley Meats history of violations when slaughtering cattle is an example of what to expect from those who want to slaughter horses.

  8. smokeysdad says:

    Attention Congress…there won’t be rocks big enough for you to hide under should this language be removed from the AG Bill. Kingston and Blunt can’t be allowed to do the same sneaky underhanded erasure like they did in 2011. We are supposed to be a ‘humane’ nation so let us ALL act humane! If not save your money and don’t bother running for another term.

  9. Colorado Cowgirl says:

    Mike Markarian You made Christmas for this girl. Thank you!

  10. LNorman says:

    The Senate passed anti-slaughter language farm bill months ago, the house has no choice except to write a brand new bill which we know they don’t how to do. This good-for-nothing bought and paid for house needs to get up off their golf carts and pass the farm bill as the senate did long ago.

  11. Deedie says:

    The amount of money it would take to support a horse slaughter plant is ridiculous. Expecting Americans to use their federal tax dollars to support USDA inspections of horse meat for a foreign industry, at $400,000.00 a year, according to the USDA, is incredibly irresponsible when I consider the number of federal funds stripped from our public schools. Roy Blunt and Jack Kingston should be ashamed. I hope they both get voted out and exposed for their so called “accountability report” that was proven false on many points and put our horses and environment at risk.

  12. Corky says:

    I am praying this all turns out in favor of the “HORSE” and not the sleezy cartel. Listen to the tax payers and hear us please……WE DO NOT WANT SLAUGHTER HOUSES IN THE US AND WE NEED THE S.A.F.E ACT PASSED. Let’s make this a Happy New Year.

    • Lance Okones says:

      Yes we do want them open. Those of us who would like the jobs. Two sides to every story.
      Lance Okones

      • Suzanne Moore says:

        Are you kidding? Since there is no market for horses slaughtered in the US, it will be almost impossible for any of these plants to turn a profit – even if they do OPEN.

        Horse slaughter plants provide a small number of minimum wage – or less – jobs, most of which will go to undocumented workers just like it did before. That’s because they work cheap and know they have no recourse to the authorities for injuries, ignoring OSHA regulations and general poor treatment. The turnover is very high because few can stand these dehumanizing jobs for very long – especially since the pay is so low, the job is so dangerous and workers are treated unfairly.

        You better check it out for yourself.

  13. Mike says:

    A vast majority of Americans, if asked, would be against the slaughter of horses. Why should we spend their tax dollars on something they are against? You would think Americans have evolved a little farther at this point in the ethical treatment of animals Are horses a weapon of mass destruction too? Must they be eliminated?

  14. Bell says:

    Dear Congress. You rating is currently at 9% approval. Allow slaughter to resume and you will enjoy a 0% approval. Stop wasting our money to feed toxic meat to foreign countries! Horses built this country and they are NOT are food source!!

  15. dk says:

    Please sign the petition to help stop horse slaughter right away. We need signatures now! Thank you.

  16. Lance Okones says:

    I’m welcoming the jobs. I live in one of the communities that will process horses. This could be an industry that could provide a lot of jobs for people and at a time when America needs jobs, congress should think carefully about weighing the need for work against the sentiments of part of the American culture that sees horses only as pets and not as a food source. A horse is an animal same as anything else slaughtered for consumption and there must be ways to test the meat for unsafe drugs. It’s a very advanced technological time we live in. I am all for the slaughtering plants opening and I will mention I grew up on a farm and like horses. My Sis and I even saved one from slaughter once. Bring on the jobs! Lance Okones

    • Suzanne Moore says:

      US horses are not just “seen” as companion animals – they ARE companion animals, and are so regulated by the FDA. That’s why equine veterinary medications – as well as many other products – contain ingredients that are totally banned from any use in any food animal at any time during their entire lifetime. NO withdrawal periods on banned substances.

      America does NOT need these miserable, minimally paying jobs, most of which will go to undocumented workers just like they did the first time around. The jobs are not only low-paying, they are very dangerous and the workers are treated poorly. It’s so dehumanizing that violent crime has skyrocketed in every community where a horse slaughter plant has been opened. So does abuse and neglect of horses. These things are documented in Kaufman, TX, Ft. Worth, TX and DeKalb, Illinois. See for yourself.

      Lance, I suggest you go to YouTube and see what horse slaughter is really like. Do it NOW!

    • Tommy Lee says:

      Then you pay for the inspectors. Horse slaughter will only promote criminal theft once kill buyers cant meet their criteria of horses.

      Not to mention the illegals that will be working there. If your so hip on it I expect to see you and your sis working there..

  17. Lance Okones says:

    Please ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to allow the plants to open.
    Lance Okones

  18. Suzanne Moore says:

    You are flat out NUTS. See my answer to your first comment.

  19. Penny Zielstorf says:

    We the American people are asking that our government take a stand by passing the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 1094/S. 541) to prevent horse slaughter from resuming in our country and to permanently stop the shipment of our wild and domestic horses to slaughter for other countries. Please hear our voices we are asking we are the tax payers we are the people. Thank you

  20. kathyh says:

    This is an Industry that should not exist, The American Public Is Greatly Opposed To The Slaughter of Horses For Human Consumption, Don’t think for 1 Minute that We are unaware of The Abuses , Cruelty and lack of ability to Regulate this bottom feeding Industry, which in the end produces a product unfit for the Consumer Markets. Horses never should have been and should not be the only animal to not be in compliance with every food safety rule,standard,regulation or protocol every other meat producing animal is mandated to follow for commercial slaughter. Slaughter is for Food Production, From animals bred/raised/regulated for that purpose..Slaughter For Human Consumption Should not be used as a dumping ground For displaced Horses, gathered at random by killbuyers. Try sourcing any other meats in the same those Markets collapse.

  21. Marjorie a Caruso says:

    Horse slaughter is barbaric. This is a blight on our country.

    Horses are companion and service animals. We do not send our dogs and cats to slaughter, why our horses?

    Please end this brutality.

  22. Tommy Lee says:

    The present distance traveling to slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada is a problem with the people making money from this brutal business.

    Diesel prices are still nearly $4.00 a gallon so more trips are needed to break even. Horse Auctions, kill buyers and haulers are making money but could make more if its allowed in the US.

    Horse slaughter is NOT needed we have seen in the recent horse meat exposures that horsemeat is ending up in Beef products all over the world. Donkey meat is mixed with fox meat its a criminal paradise where profits are there as long as we Tree huggers and Terrorist like me keep quite.

    As a tax payer and horse owner of the US I oppose horse slaughter and feel that pro slaughter folks are creating more lies and thinking slaughter is right.

    Farm Bureau, AQHA, AVMA, AAEP have done NOTHING to help people who loose their jobs and cant afford a horse or horses care. There simple solution is similar to Hitler breed the best and slaughter the rest.

    The past downing economy has NOT made people criminals and irresponsible these people were criminals and irresponsible long before and FBI statics show crimes on animals lead to women and children too.

    check out the recent exposure of a Kentucky Kill buyer

    So with that sad I urge everyone to call their elected officials and say defund them and pass our horse bills HR1094 and S541

    Tommy Lee

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