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From the Oklahoman: U.S. horse slaughter plants in the very early stages of planning, proponent says

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  • kkmiles@cox.net
    U.S. horse slaughter plants in the very early stages of planning, proponent says The last horse slaughter plants in the U.S. shut down in 2007. But now
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2011
      U.S. horse slaughter plants in the very early stages of planning,
      proponent says
      The last horse slaughter plants in the U.S. shut down in 2007. But now
      Congress has cleared the way for horse slaughter plants to open again.


      Oklahoman: November 27, 2011

      Horse slaughter plants have become legal again, after Congress quietly
      unbridled restrictions on processing horse meat. President Barack Obama
      signed the enabling bill on Nov. 18. Entities already are considering
      opening plants in Oregon, and possibly Idaho, Wyoming, Montana,
      Nebraska, North Dakota, Georgia and Missouri, slaughter plant proponent
      Sue Wallis said. Between 120,000 to 200,000 horses will be killed for
      human consumption per year, she estimates. In coming months, the first
      couple of plants may open, said Wallis. The Wyoming state representative
      said her pro-slaughter group “United Horsemen,” is working closely with
      entities to open what she says will be humane slaughter plants. However,
      plants will have to get state approval and could face court challenges,
      said Lauren Silverman Simon, a federal lobbyist for the Humane Society
      of the United States. Wallis also said she is working with some tribes
      on eventually opening plants to help control multiplying wild horse
      herds. “I guarantee it will happen. The horse world is very motivated,”
      Wallis said. “We've really laid the groundwork ... to make sure it's
      done very, very well. Everyone in the horse world is so excited we may
      have an opportunity to turn the whole equine market around.”

      As vigorously as Wallis has worked to return horse slaughter to this
      country, others have worked just as passionately to keep it at bay.
      “They're signing the death sentence for thousands of our American
      horses. The wild mustangs in Oklahoma and every horse in Oklahoma is at
      risk,” said Oklahoma City horse advocate Stephanie Graham. “Horses are
      going to die and it's going to be brutal.”

      Nine million horses

      Though there are many issues, the debate boils down to how Americans
      view the country's estimated nine million horses. Many people consider
      horses the iconic symbols of the American West, creatures loved in their
      role as work, show, pleasure and companion animals. Some say slaughter
      is wrong for these animals. Others say they love their own horses but
      slaughter is appropriate and better controlled if done in American
      plants in order to reduce excess horses. Some view horses as livestock
      and their meat as an appropriate food on the dinner plate, not only in
      other countries but also on American tables as recently as the

      American horses are regularly hauled away and killed in Canada and
      Mexico slaughter plants. Last year's government figures show almost
      138,000 U.S. horses were exported for slaughter. Since 2006, Congress
      has effectively prohibited horse slaughter in the states by not funding
      U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections of horses transported for
      slaughter and at slaughter houses. State laws shut down the last three
      horse slaughter houses, in Illinois and Texas, in 2007. After that, the
      non-funding prevented others from opening. If it can't be inspected, it
      can't be sold.

      Spending bill

      The bill that effectively changed the policy was a huge spending bill
      covering several different agencies and departments such as the USDA.
      Rep. Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, got an amendment passed in the
      House Appropriations Committee in May to continue the ban on funding
      inspections. But a few lawmakers stripped out the amendment before the
      bill was finalized, passed by both houses this month and signed into

      With legislators hearing from all sides of the issue, they requested a
      Government Accounting Office report (see the accompanying article for
      details) for guidance in assessing what has happened since the ban on
      funding USDA inspections. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, a member of the House
      Appropriations Committee, said he voted against Moran's amendment to
      continue the ban. Cole said numerous horse owners in his district are
      “pretty unanimous that they want the means to deal with an excess
      population.” He said opponents of domestic horse slaughter “are letting
      their hearts overrule their heads.”

      Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., was one of the members of a House-Senate
      committee who worked to strip out the amendment. “We wanted to allow
      horse slaughter again in America because of an unanticipated problem
      with horse neglect and abandonment,” he said. He said horse abandonment
      and abuse in Colorado rose to 1,588 in 2009, up from 975 in 2005.
      “The number of horses exported for slaughter really just offset whatever
      Jim Moran thought he was going to save from slaughter,” Kingston said.

      He said horse slaughter has never really stopped but simply moved to
      Canadian and Mexican plants. “But we can't monitor horse slaughter in a
      plant in Mexico or Canada. And so we don't know if it's being done
      humanely or not because the USDA obviously doesn't have any jurisdiction
      there,” Kingston said. “Along the way, these horses are having a rough
      transit. USDA does not have the jurisdiction over how the animals are
      treated along the way,” he said.

      Moran has co-sponsored a permanent ban through legislation called the
      American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. “I am committed to doing
      everything in my power to prevent the resumption of horse slaughter and
      will force Congress to debate this important policy in an open,
      democratic manner at every opportunity,” Moran said in a statement.

      Weighing costs

      Sen. Herbert Kohl, D-Wis., is another committee member involved in
      stripping out Moran's language. Lynn Becker, spokeswoman for Kohl, said
      the senator's goal was “to prevent the neglect, mistreatment and
      abandonment of horses in the United States.”

      Simon, with the Humane Society of the United States, took issue with the
      argument that the domestic slaughtering ban has led to more cases of
      neglect and abandonment of horses, saying that the recession was the
      main cause. All types of animals are abandoned in economic downturns she
      said, because people can't afford to take care of them. “The vast
      majority of American horse owners would not choose this practice,'' she
      said. Moreover, she said, horses were transported long distances within
      the United States before the ban.

      Simone Netherlands, founder of Respect4Horses, questioned the fiscal
      justification for opening up horse slaughter plants. “In this time when
      the focus of Congress is supposedly on reducing spending and creating
      jobs, it is a ludicrous measure to spend tax dollars in order to
      reinstate an inherently cruel predatory business, from which Americans
      stand to gain nothing. Horse slaughter plants operating until 2007 have
      never created a total of more than 178 jobs,” Netherlands said.

      Wallis contends animal advocacy groups simply want to end animal
      agriculture. “Only about 2 percent of the population makes any part of
      their living from agriculture. So it's very, very easy for special
      interest groups such as HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) or
      PETA to put together slick advertising campaigns,” she said. “All you
      have to do is throw up an ad with a weepy-eyed kitten, a three-legged
      dog and a skinny horse and you've got a lot of grandmas sending you
      $19.95 per month,” Wallis said.

      Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director of The Humane Society of the
      United States, responded that Americans don't eat horses. “And they
      don't want them inhumanely killed, shrink-wrapped and sent to Japan or
      Belgium for a high priced appetizer. Where and how one makes a living
      isn't an issue here. In our culture and in our hearts, the horse holds a
      lofty place. And it's not on the barbecue grill,” Armstrong said.

      Graham said Americans just need to talk and find a viable, humane
      solution to the issue. “Many people think this will be humane
      euthanasia and they think of Fido getting put to sleep on the veterinary
      table. That's not the way it is,” said Graham. “Horses are sensitive
      animals and you cannot tell me the horse at the slaughter plant cannot
      smell the blood on the other side of the pen. They're freaked out. They
      know death is coming,” she said.


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