Inside D.C.

USDA Stumbles on Horse Slaughter

No one can argue USDA doesn’t have enough issues on its plate. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is learning Farm Bill 101; he’s trying to make sequester work, and seemingly every other week another member of the Secretary’s subcabinet team resigns – Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan a month ago, then Undersecretary for Rural Affairs Dallas Tonsager, and this week Harris Sherman, undersecretary for natural resources and environment. Add to this the speechifying, meetings, testimony and other administrative functions of the secretary, and you have a busy, busy guy.

So it begs the question: Why would USDA – either through original thinking or instruction from the White House – decide to abandon its appropriately neutral position on horse slaughter in the U.S., and add an 11th-hour addendum to the President’s budget asking Congress to withhold any money for paying inspectors at horse processing plants?

I’m sure if a formal question is put to the Secretary – and there will be questions April 16, when he appears before House Appropriations Committee to justify USDA’s FY2014 budget request – he’ll cite tight resources, a priority on major species inspection and slaughter, etc. However, that doesn’t mitigate the fact the defunding decision is less a fiscal than political statement.

The issue of whether horse slaughter should be legal in the U.S. has been around for over a decade. It’s an issue borne out of animal rights philosophy – pushed hard by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and a lot of Hollywood folks – and is justified by the moral argument Americans don’t/shouldn’t eat horse meat, and a perception of the horse as a species superior to others we raise and kill for food.

It’s also one of the most hotly contested emotional issues in the animal rights universe, and one that if mishandled has significant economic consequences. This should of and by itself inform USDA’s decision-making process.

Let’s be clear: Horse slaughter is legal in the U.S., save in a few states. The reopening of horse processing plants was blocked until 2011 by appropriations bill language withholding federal funding to pay inspectors. Ignored in the storm of “noble beast” and ethical superiority arguments are several salient issues that can’t be ignored, including the private property rights of horse owners; the potential economic stimulus and employment potential in rural America from a reestablished horse processing industry; the recapture of a $100-million horse meat export market; a lack of professional horse sanctuaries so hence, the declining welfare of abandoned and neglected horses – now totaling by various estimates anywhere from 150,000-300,000 – and, finally, the 20% annual increase in feral horses and their destruction of land and Native American culture out West.

The reality is USDA-regulated stunning and processing is the most humane method of culling this population. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, says eliminating horse slaughter has significantly and negatively impacted horse welfare in this country. Heck, even HSUS allows “euthanasia” is an acceptable means of controlling the unwanted horse population; you just can’t sell or eat the meat.

While farmers and ranchers are justifiably outraged by any federal government move messing with their rights and the federal meat inspection system, other severely affected factions are entering this debate. One of the most compelling letters I’ve seen on this issue is one sent last month by the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Wappanish, Washington, to Vilsack and President Obama, explaining why it worked to remove appropriations language preventing USDA-inspected horse processing. Here’s an excerpt:

“…the Yakama Reservation is literally overrun by with what some call wild horses. We believe it more accurate to refer to these horses as feral. Our biologists estimate we have over 12,000 feral horses on our Reservation. Through overgrazing, destruction of stream banks and the intimidation of species of native animals that we are trying to reintroduce…these feral horses are doing very serious environmental damage to our homeland…many of our people are impoverished, and if they can generate a little income by selling some of this ever-growing herd and helping us to cull our feral horse population, they are doing themselves and our land base a huge service…we should not manage these horses based on purely emotional arguments, story books or movies…there is a market for horse meat in many parts of the world, and if we can create jobs, humanely reduce overpopulated herds, and feed others, it is absurd to prohibit it.”

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  • You know you are so off the wall in this report makes me almost throw up!!!! If your going to report stuff you should at least be completely accurate in what you are saying??? I am NOT going to go on any further, not worth my effort as I can see in your writtings!!!

    • Really? This kind of emotional tantrum is what has gotten us to this point as it is. If you have a practical, applicable solution for the unwanted horses in this country then why not put it out there for all to see and discuss? I’ve not met one single person who actually supports the option of slaughter being available in this country that truly WANTS to send horses there. How is starving to death or dying of untreated medical problems (that owners can no longer afford to treat or vets won’t take payments to even put the horse down) better than slaughter with instantaneous brain death from a captive bolt? How is the production of usable meat better than burying toxic substances to leach into the ground water when animals are chemically euthanized? Slaughter supporters have been asking for almost 7 years now, how did cutting the funding for inspections and effectively banning slaughter for meat in this country HELP the horses? Every study out there says things are worse. Offer a realistic, affordable, practical solution and you would have every pro-slaughter person on your side immediately. In 7 years that alternative has not been offered.

  • What no one has apparently addressed is what happens to these horses, currently going to Canada or Mexico for slaughter, if slaughter is not allowed here and the transportation for purposes of slaughter is also banned (effectively keeping them from leaving the country), the next step in the “save all the horses” agenda from HSUS and all the animal rights groups. We currently send (and historically have sent) 100,000-150,000 (more or less) horses to slaughter per year. Just exactly who is going to care for these animals if they don’t go to slaughter?….obviously their previous owners can no longer do so for whatever reason as they sold the animals where slaughter buyers could buy them. The occasionally raised “breeders should be responsible for their produced foals for the entire life of that foal” is ludicrous….horses live 25-30 years easily and breeders could be long since dead well before the horse dies. We already have the largest individual breeder in the country (BLM) warehousing animals for years at taxpayer expense….and that is just 40,000 (+/-) of them. What happens when three or four times that many EVERY YEAR, can’t be slaughtered? Are the AR/HSUS etc group willing to put up the tax money to support that many horses for their entire future lifetimes? How about the US public? There have been big cutbacks by breeders but that doesn’t alter the number of horses produced over the past 20 years…only the numbers of adult horses that will be available in the future.

  • It is absolutely pathetic that the AGRICULTURE agency would include something so blatantly anti-agriculture and anti-horse in their budget. It is our job to make sure that we make this a very loud & public issue to show that we will not allow the American horse industry and our private property rights to be further destroyed or to stand idlly by while more horses starve to death or are shipped to die in less regulated and humane facilities than we can provide.

  • Excellent, unbiased report based on **common sense** and **logical thinking** rather than emotional propaganda. Good comment about the BLM and all the mustangs that taxpayer dollars are supporting. What’s totally telling about the *special interest* influence of the (non-taxpaying) sociopathic “animal rights” groups is that the USDA is wanting to eliminate funding for USDA inspectors (of horsemeat), and is willing to make some other minor cuts, but turns around and is asking for **millions** to go after small pet breeders if APHIS is allowed to implement the pending anti-pet-breeder rule that H$U$ undoubtedly wrote and is pushing HARD. Talk about eliminating small breeders in one fell swoop! Why can’t people see the true agenda of these AR groups–elimination as far as society will allow of animal use? There’s plenty of research and websites out there exposing these groups, but they seem to be able to buy their way into influencing our elected officials to support their extremist agenda under guide of animal welfare. Animal rights is NOT NOT NOT animal welfare!!!! GET IT!!!

  • Why would the Sec of Ag take a position oh horse slaughter? Perhaps because unlike certain factions he understand we don’t raise horses for food in this country and that 80% of the country is opposed to horse slaughter. The USDA is charged with the food safety of our food supply as well as the food we export.

  • So we have Dorothy Robertson commenting when she has been convicted twice of animal cruelty and neglect. Most recently this past year 30 horses she didn’t feed nor provide farrier care Why dud she not send those horses to slaughter? The option to send your horse to slaughter never went away. Yet Dorothy didnt, why, because it isn’t humane.

  • Non-taxpayers?? My family works, has always worked and always paid taxes, how insulting and self righteous to think the pro slaughter faction are the only people who pay taxes.

  • While horse slaughter is an emotional issue for many who love horses, those individuals need to calm down and look at the reality of hundreds of horses left to starve, or left to roam on federal lands where their numbers are destroying the environment. Horse slaughter provides more than meat for humans, it provides meat for zoo animals and for other meat-consuming animals, such as pets. When a horse is no longer able to live for whatever reason, it is not a better idea to euthanize it and bury it…the numbers alone would cause contamination of the lands and water supply. Why not use the carcass of these animals for food as needed, whether for humans, zoo animals, or pets? Common sense indicates we should not be wasting resources and these horses are resources. Is it kinder to the horse to let is starve, or to humanely slaughter the animal?

  • The USDA is responsible for agriculture food safety and should be commended for recognizing the danger to our food supply and foreign consumers should horse slaughter resume on our soil. That’s not animal rights, that’s consumer rights. The arrogance of expecting to use the food chain to dispose of your “private property”. How about taking ownership of your “private property” and paying to dispose of your “private property” like the overwhelming majority of horse owners in this country? Why do you expect a government handout? Why you do you feel American taxpayers should pay to dispose of your “private property”? I find it humorous how slaughter supporters always give credit to HSUS and ignore the overwhelming support from the horse industry, horse owners and taxpayers across the country. The horse industry does not produce meat and is why horse slaughter has never provided any solutions nor will it ever. You need to address and fix the cause. Slaughtering the victims does not stop the over production of horses or prevent abuse and neglect. The decades of slaughter have already proven that. How many more years of slaughter do you need? Weren’t all the “unwanted”, neglected, old, dangerous, ill, lame, etc. horses slaughtered last year, the year before, the year before that….. When does it become a solution? Bravo to the USDA for stepping up to protect our food supply. Finally, the voices of tax payers, horse owners and the horse industry are being heard. Or perhaps it was the sudden drop in slaughter counts in Mexico and Canada immediately after the epic horse meat scandal broke. Just a coincidence? We all know where that horse meat has been going and if our beef industry was wise, they would distance themselves from horse slaughter. Slaughter plans on US soil, will destroy the beef industry in this country. The EU doesn’t want US horses, Russia doesn’t want any meat from the US and China is looking at implementing EU regs. Where will you peddle the toxic meat – with our beef supply?

  • You ask; “Why would USDA – either through original thinking or instruction from the White House – decide to abandon its appropriately neutral position on horse slaughter in the U.S., and add an 11th-hour addendum to the President’s budget asking Congress to withhold any money for paying inspectors at horse processing plants?”

    Well, here are a few remote possibilities::

    1) Horses are not raised as food animals and are given drugs forbidden in meat animals.
    2) Human consumption is not an appropriate method of disposing of anything “unwanted”.
    3) 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter.
    4) He found out that the whole industry is rife with criminals, polluters and thieves.
    5) He actually read the GAO report and saw it was irrational.
    6) He realized that the meat was being sold as beef in the EU while our beef isn’t!
    7) He realized this whole thing is just another knee jerk reaction by animal agriculture against what they conceive as a massive animal rights agenda.
    8) He met Sue Wallis and Dave Duquette!

    I go with 8.

  • What complete and utter rot. It is obvious neither the author of this dribble nor those commenting have bothered to do any of their own serious investigation on horse slaughter, or else they would be as disgusted and appalled of the practice as the other 80% of the population.

    The solution? The cattle market is tanking, breeders stop breeding so many. I suggest the horse breeders, especially the alleged God loving quarter horse breeders, do the same.

  • Chinese are buying horses at auctions. They treat them horribly, just getting them from the sale and putting them on a truck. Then they load them on ships………….and slaughter them on the way to China.

    This isn’t working the way it is. Better to slaughter here and not put them through so much beforehand.

    AND……..and, as Marcy says…….in the same budget APHIS is asking for $29 million to enforce a NEW AND STUPID AND VINDICTIVE ‘rule’ aimed at puppy mills.. I say “aimed”, as 90% of it misses the mark entirely. It hurts the people who are home-raising loving, well socialized puppies (you know – the ones we want ) way more than it slows down the puppymills. Actually, it could force every breeder into becoming a “puppymill”, where puppies are raised in kennels (not in a home) and not raised with the home-life love and socialization needed to make well-adjusted pets. Talk about double kill!

  • It should be noted that the author of this piece is contracted by the horse meat lobby.

    I am perplexed as to why livestock producers – especially cattlemen – would ever support horse slaughter in this country.

    Did you miss the recent scandal in the EU? Horse meat was being fraudulently passed off as beef. Not only did that depress beef sales in and of itself, but following the scandal, frozen burger sales in the U.K. dropped by 43 percent.

    Is that what cattle producers want in this country? To have their products tainted by horse meat, which is known to contain drugs banned from the food chain? Or better yet, do producers want horse meat to displace beef in ground meat products?

    Scratching my head on this one.

  • While some in the horse slaughter cartel can ONLY see dollar signs, Vilsack is in part responsible for ag systems that produce SAFE and wholesome food – not just dollars in a few pockets. Absurd to believe that any horse can transpose safely into food by the stroke of a horse dealers pen. Perhaps there is a shred of integrity left in the ag sector.

  • Hog Wash.Same old song from pro slaughter second verse.Slaughter and the transportation to it is the same here as going over the border.Money for a rew is the friving force for this issue.
    My taxpayer money needs to go to what we process for our consumption.Horse slaughter is not the answer to over abundance of horses.People not taking responsiblity for what they breed is the answer to over population.Like with dogs and cats and in todays world babies.We breed and what we don’t want we kill either in slaughter plants dog pounds or abortion clinic.

  • Mr. Kopperud, it’s so obvious that you’re preaching to the choir here that it’s futile for anyone with a differing opinion to even try to interject, and yet your points are so biased and unfounded, I’m finding it hard to restrain my outrage. Everyone who’s informed about the horse slaughter issue in this country is aware that you’re a lobbyist employed with Policy Directions, and that Sue Wallis used your office address in Washington D.C. as the address for the International Equine Business Association, at least for a time.

    You pose as a journalist when you’re actually a paid lobbying hack. Your repeated use of the term “animal rights activists” instead of, more correctly, “horse welfare advocates”, is just one example of your calculated use of misleading language to incite paranoia among those you presumably serve. We might have some hope for the future of our country if you and people like you were banned from Washington, and legislators could get about their business of serving the people instead of pandering to whatever business interests wave the biggest wallets.

    Your essay here is loaded with misrepresentations and biased language. It’s not worth my time addressing it since your “choir” lacks the intelligence to distinguish fact from rhetoric. You, and they, disgust me.

  • This has become an issue so divisive that when reading an “article” like yours, someone uninformed might actually believe your points have merit but most now know better.
    You are fighting time and culture – this is no longer the ’50’s and we view animals and their care in a very different way – it’s not activism but the maturation of a society that values it’s animals. We can accept the processing of food but now require the decency and humanity that goes along with it. Horses are not food to us – US society doesn’t want to provide our horses as food to foreign societies that eat them.
    Most horses are companion animals and are compared more closely to dogs than cattle-too many you say? Then stop the tax exemptions for breeding horses 2 yrs and younger – tax those that overbreed {much like puppy mills} and be clear that many horses abandoned {in the SW Tex/Mex border they are rejects from the Mexican slaughter houses by the thousands} COULD be sent to slaughter but are not because the peculiarities that allow an owner to walk past a starving animal day after day – in plain site – are not those that would send it to a kill buyer. Do the research – how many of these news horror stories are within a ride of any livestock auction but they never send their animals???
    Euthanasia is a cheap argument that with any research proves hollow.
    Slaughter is about MONEY – plain and simple.
    You bloviate and misrepresent – that’s not news – it’s manure.

  • Lobbyists like Mr. Kopperud and the Fortune 500 companies they represent would like to deny you your free speech rights on animal agriculture issues. In a letter to Consumer Reports, Kopperud has defended the industry’s rationale behind food disparagement laws, claiming that they “do not repress free speech, but rather compel a speaker to think twice about opportunistic or false statements and the damage such rhetoric can do. . . . Food disparagement laws, as tools to make more honest our national discussion of food safety, are the ultimate consumer protection.” The AIF speaks more bluntly in literature aimed at farmers: “Animal rights activists . . . threaten the survival of today’s farmers and ranchers. . . . It’s time to fight back! . . . “

    Lead by lobbyists, the food industry has worked quietly state-by-state while avoiding a controversial national debate. Do you believe that, based on Sue Wallis’ alignment with Kopperud, she would really implement CCTV in horse slaughterhouses? I wouldn’t bet a kidney on it and I don’t give a shit what Temple Grandin thinks will happen either.

    Further, Steve Kopperud, coordinator for the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group, is afraid the media will have a field day with the EPA limits. Here are the members of the The Food Industry Dioxin Working Group (hint – they will not be advocating on your behalf):

    American Farm Bureau Federation
    American Feed Industry Association
    American Frozen Food Institute
    American Meat Institute
    Corn Refiners Association
    International Dairy Foods Association
    National Chicken Council
    National Grain & Feed Association
    National Meat Association
    National Milk Producers Federation
    National Oilseed Processors Association
    National Pork Producers Council
    National Renderers Association
    National Turkey Federation
    Pet Food Institute
    United Egg Producers

    What do all these individual issues have to do with horse slaughter? Lobbyists for horse slaughter will do for horse slaughter what they are trying to do for CAFOs – normalize them or portray them as animal-friendly mom and pop establishments, employing “best practices,” animal welfare, and professional business ethics, while they are nothing whatsoever like that. Always remember that it costs them money to adhere to standards, just as it would cost a lot of money to slow down the dis-assembly line of horses or any other animal, as an attempt to make the process more “humane.” It costs money to implement and audit CCTV cameras (not that they want anyone to see what’s going on to begin with), otherwise, the industry could have done it already! The horrors of horse slaughter and drug contamination will be downplayed or proclaimed to be non-existent. There is no traceability in Canadian or American horses and no way to guarantee horses are drug free – not that either of those issues matter to lobbyists for Slaughterhouse Sue and Bill DesBarres. Lastly, if lobbyists like Mr. Kopperud are pitching drug-tainted meat to sell to consumers, well, that in my opinion is some pretty dirty lobbying.

  • I have a couple of snivels regarding this article…

    The language for re-funding horse meat inspectors, like SO many unpopular agendas, was snuck in the back door of the 2011 budget like a cheap tart, absent either debate or oversight. It was amoral and just plain rotten, so the righteous tone in this article is hardly appropriate.

    In early 2007, my very spartan, never-had-a-remodel-since-1977 home was appraised at $300,000. My horses luxuriated at a boarding facility we had little difficulty paying for, and my household was run on that truly rare 21st century relic – The Single Income.

    By mid 2007, we began to experience the first throes of losing everything we had – loss of income due to a decline in the need for my spouse’s particular services, loss of savings, retirement and affordable boarding for our old friends. When we acquired our horses, back in 1993, we had money, and plenty of it and forsaw a future on a Kewpie-doll ranch that included these animals, for the rest of their lives. We were neither greedy nor selfish, but we’ve since lost our home, and our horses live by the grace of a decent man who had some pasture to spare.

    There is nothing moral or pragmatic in domestic horse slaughter. And I’ll readily admit my opinion is most definitely based on emotion – the love of my horses (and horses in general), endless hours of devoted research, and a soul-deep disappointment in a government run by creatures who can see nothing past their own powermongering and lack foresight, who create insurmountable issues, then sit back and twiddle (whatever body part you think most appropriate).

    We Do Not Raise Horses For Human Consumption: Nearly every horse in America will have experienced multiple owners. There is no chain of evidence to trace where they’ve been, what noxious potions have been administered, what diseases or disorders they may carry, unlike stock raised specifically for food. If that’s not compelling enough, USDA meat inspectors are already stretched to the under-funded breaking point for those animals raised for food and occasionally, food animals are cruelly brutalized or some nasty bug or bacteria sneaks through and people get sick. Some even die. So it’s the contention of the author of this article that cruelty and human losses are acceptable, so long as horses are killed and butchered right here at home?

  • Horse slaughter creates jobs?! When the last three slaughter plants were open they had about 178 people employed total. These are low paying jobs, ones that usually illegals take or convicted felons.

    100 million dollar industry? Wow. Wherever did you pull that number from? The EU is about to shut the door to American horses because our horses are not compliant under their passport system. So the EU is out. Russia is boycotting our beef so as soon as they realize how toxic our horses are won’t be long before that boycott extends to horses. China slaughters there own. So who’s left to sell this toxic meat to?

    I know in the past Sue Wallis has suggested selling it to prisons and unsuspecting schoolchildren. I don’t think this requires any further discussion. Selling horse to poor, hungry starving folks is not a place we as a society should be heading. We know this meat is toxic and we actually have people suggesting we give poison to hungry folk?

    No where in this article have you discussed crime rates, the pollution that follows horse slaughter. You suggest jobs. Do you realize that Dallas Crown was FOREIGN owned, paid almost nothing in taxes in 2006, they were out of compliance with their waste water for months and would not allow inspections EVENTHOUGH IT WAS MANDATED BY FEDERAL LAW. All one has to do is go to and look at the steep DECLINE in crime AFTER the slaughter plant closed.

    Please do an honest followup that really discusses what people can expect if they choose to open a plant in their city. Oklahoma is on many horse advocates boycott list because of their stand. Time will tell if they fall to pressure from the loss of revenue.

  • Someone suggested that animal advocates don’t pay taxes? I’ve been taxes since I was 12 years old. Whether I like it or not. And that’s 40 some years now.

    BLM gelds every stud they get their grubby paws onto. Not only do they geld but those horses are sent to same sex holding pastures for the rest of their lives.

    The right to send your horse to slaughter never went away. People have always had the option of shipping their horses over the border north or south. The idea that we will somehow get it right because we’re slaughtering here vs elsewhere. To that I can only say go stick your nose up your cows fanny and take a big whiff! Transportation violations will never go away. We’re talking about drivers gouging horses eyes out so the horse is more manageable on the truck. Or how about the pregnant mare who gives birth on the truck, in the pens, or even on the kill floor. Where was the owner the previous year when that mare was being bred? No ones talks about broken bones that horses endure under these conditions.

    This isn’t about property rights. I don’t want your home or your animals. I do want to know I’m doing my part to ensure that what happened in Europe NEVER happens here. And slaughter plants can apply for something called multi species license.

    What’s weird about all of this is because of Europe and all the pro slaughter chatter I’ve gone vegetarian. I may never have been a huge consumer of red meat but I had my fair share. Not anymore. No more fast food because Burger King can’t and won’t get it right. I don’t trust other suppliers. The food supply was contaminated.

    Going veggie means down the road I can learn to grow my own fruit and veggies. Then I can trust my own supply.

    Pro’s have only themselves to blame as our society works towards vegetarian.

  • Honestly, I cant do a better job of de-bunking this article than has already been done – Jo-Claire and many others. The thing that sticks in my “craw” is the insistence that slaughter & euthanasia are one and the same. What is it with that? Just the word-slaughter-should tell anyone with a brain exactly what it entails. THEN the idea that all of us who care what happens to horses (and other animals being abused) are all these rich idiots that live in some ivory tower – that’s a laugh. No one who gets involved with animal welfare does it to make money. Just the opposite.

  • 1) American horse meat is adulterated. Please see the following. The first link to an article, re: the hazards of phenylbutazone (bute) was published in a highly respected, peer-reviewed journal. The second link is to another article in a highly respected, peer-reviewed Irish journal. Please note that, as per this article, if meat containing even minute quantities of phenylbutazone (bute) is ingested, it can cause aplastic anemia as well as many other disorders. The third link also indicates the dangers of phenylbutazone. Again, please remember that FDA has banned the use of phenylbutazone in any animals intended for human consumption. Also, bute is only one of hundreds of toxic substances given to American horses.

    Food And Toxicology Report:

    As the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service stated back in 2007, “phenylbutazone is considered to be one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is not approved for use in food animals and there are no regulatory limits, such as acceptable daily intake or safe concentration for meat, established by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, the presence of any amount of phenylbutazone in food animal tissue will be considered a violation and likely to be unsafe for human consumption.” –

    2) Horse slaughterhouses have devastated communities, economically, environmentally and socially, in which they were located.

    The following is a letter from Paula Bacon to the Wall Street Journal, written several years before the citizens of Kaufman, Texas finally managed to rid themselves of the Belgian-owned horse slaughterhouse, Dallas Crown—after a battle spanning over 25 years:

    “To the Editor
    The Wall Street Journal
    RE: article “Why Belgians Shoot Horses in Texas….”

    I read with great interest your recent article on horse slaughter.

    I am mayor of Kaufman, I have learned a great deal about horse slaughter, and I can say without reservation that the horse slaughter industry causes significant hardship to my community.

    You state that “So far, economic arguments have prevailed over the emotional appeals of the anti-slaughter forces.”

    If economic arguments had in fact prevailed, then the screen door ought to have banged the backside of Dallas Crown 25 years ago as they departed Kaufman. Instead they have used my city like a door mat.

    In January 1986, then Mayor Harry Holcomb said, “Quite frankly, we don’t want you here!” when Dallas Crown came to the City Council with a plan to re-open. With zoning and vested rights they did re-open, but the city manager assured, “if they violate ordinances, we can close them down” [Kaufman Herald, 1/23/86].

    Not so, as it turns out. Dallas Crown has a long history of violating ordinances, as do the other two horse slaughter plants in Fort Worth and DeKalb. “Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them,” a recent city staff memo advises, one of dozens of such memos.

    But the city doesn’t have the resources to outspend Dallas Crown in legal wrangling. Recently, after receiving 29 citations for failing waste-water tests 60% of the time, Dallas Crown demanded 29 separate jury trials.

    Then Dallas Crown banned the city from testing for 9 months-though it is required by law, signed agreement and court order. Upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which said testing is designed to protect, will cost 2,100 sewer customers $6 million.

    A repellent history of violations that includes blood spills, putrid odors, and horse remains in nearby yards continues to this day.

    As unwilling host to a horse slaughter plant, I believe my city should have a voice in the economic argument. In Kaufman, horse slaughter is the reverse of economic development. Dallas Crown drains our resources, thwarts economic development and stigmatizes our community. All 3 of the horse slaughter plants in the U.S. employ a total of fewer than 200 people. They cost American taxpayers $5 million annually in federal funding for oversight, USDA inspections, transport inspections, etc., according to federal officials. There is no economic justification for horse slaughter.

    In your article Monsieur Kemseke, one of a long line of managers who “neglected to perform within the standards required of them” and an owner of Dallas Crown, notes that he paid for the over-sized flag that greets drivers coming into town, and wonders who will buy the next one if Dallas Crown closes.

    Kemseke’s cavalier and insincere concern over our financial ability to purchase an American flag perfectly illustrates the horse slaughter “industry” in the U.S.: Horse slaughter ridicules American values while gouging our resources.

    The flag does not make up for the economic and stigmatizing drain that Dallas Crown has brought our community. A $100 flag in the face of the $6 million cost to taxpayers? Perfect. This is the brand of corporate citizen Dallas Crown is to Kaufman, and the kind of industry horse slaughter is to the U.S.

    Please. Spare us from any more of this supposed charity.

    Paula Bacon
    Mayor, City of Kaufman”

    3) 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter, as per a January 2012 poll conducted by Lake Research Partners

    4) Horse slaughter itself is the cause of abandoned horses, as kill buyers dump horses rejected by Mexican plants across the border in NM. The following European Commission reports states that, in 2010, 5,336 horses from 62,560 were rejected:

    MEXICO REF. ARES(2011)398056 – 11/04/2011, STATES ON PAGE 7:

    “Data for 2010 presented by staff of the OISA visited showed that, out of 630 consignments of live horses for slaughter, 58 were rejected after documentary checks and a further 226 consignments had animals rejected. At the six OISAs involved in imports of live horses from the US, 5 336 live horses in 631 consignments were rejected out of 62 560 animals presented for import between January and October 2010.”

    That’s 8.5% percent of horses en-route to Mexico for slaughter are turned away at the border.”

    5) as of July 31st, the European Union, which currently imports 80% of American horse meat, will no longer accept the meat of American horses because of the toxins; therefore, the market will be virtually gone. Because, as a “third country,” the US has not implemented a “residue control plan” (to ensure that toxic substances such as phenylbutazone are not present in a horse to be slaughtered), as of July 31st, the European Union has indicated that it will not accept American horse meat:, as per its statement below:

    “…only horses with a known medicinal treatment history, and
    which on the basis of medicinal treatment records can be shown to have
    satisfied the appropriate veterinary medicine withdrawal periods, should
    be allowed to be slaughtered for export to the EU.”

    Additional material regarding this fact is included in the links below:

    6) given the horse meat scandal in the EU, the purchase of beef by Europeans is down 42% because Europeans do not want to eat horse meat. If horse slaughter starts in the US, the already suffering American cattle industry will be decimated.

    7) the contention that only sick, old horses go to slaughter is a lie (only one lie of many perpetuated by the pro-slaughter contingent). In fact, USDA statistics indicate that 92% of the horses going to slaughter are young and healthy:

    8) the contention that this industry would provide many jobs is yet another untruth. When the last US three horse slaughterhouses were operating (one in IL; two in TX), fewer than 180 workers were employed at dangerous, minimum-wage positions. In addition, the vast majority of them were undocumented workers, not American citizens. In fact, Chevideco, the Belgian horse slaughter company, stated in Mountain Grove, MO in March of 2012, that it would only employ Hispanics, because, “…they are the only people who will do this job.” So, you can add racism to the long list of questionable moral values of the pro-slaughter contingent:

    9) Given their natural flight instinct, it is impossible to “humanely” slaughter horses. Please see the following statement from Dr. Lester Friedlander, former USDA Chief Inspector:

    Affidavit to Members of Congress:

    February 29, 2008

    Lester Friedlander, DVM

    “Distinguished Members of Congress, my name is Dr. Lester Friedlander and I am a former USDA Veterinarian. I am refuting the testimony of Dr. Bonnie Beaver, DVM, that the captive bolt is a humane procedure of euthanasia for horses. The captive bolt does not meet the humane method of slaughter, as described in the 1958 “Humane Slaughter Act.” Head restraints are not used in the slaughter of horses and therefore do not comply with the Statue. The captive bolt is used in cattle, due to the fact the cow’s brain is more anterior than the horse’s brain and the penetration of the bolt is more effective. Horses are not, and cannot be restrained, during horse slaughter. I have seen several video tapes of horse slaughter where the horses have to be struck with the captive bolt several times. No head restraints were used; to do so would cause these flight animals to break their necks. During these multiple times of striking the horses head with the captive bolt, the horses are in pain and suffering. It is important to know that the captive bolt does not kill the horse, nor was it ever intended to. The horse must be exsanguinated to be suitable for human consumption. As the captive bolt is not a proper instrument for the slaughter of equids, and these animals regain consciousness thirty seconds after being struck, they are fully aware they are vivisected. Ergo, the use of the captive bolt for equids is a violation of the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. I ask you to support HR 503 and S 311 in the best interest of horses”

    ~Lester Friedlander, DVM

    • omg……………….well, what is to be done with horses?

      • Dear Kaylor,

        Please consider that something like only 1% of American horses go to slaughter. (BTW, this number is now down significantly, a direct result of the European horse meat scandal. The number of horses slaughtered in Mexican plants is down 62%–again, Europeans do not want to eat toxic meat). So–to whom do these people who want to open horse slaughterhouses propose to sell the meat? (As of July 31st, the EU which currently imports 80% of American horse meat, will no longer accept it).

        To your question, given that only 1% of American horses are slaughtered, several approaches might be taken: 1) responsible breeding practices must be put into place which, in itself, would largely eliminate the issue of “unwanted” horses as well as raise the price of horses due to supply and demand; 2) more therapeutic riding programs could be initiated (the horse that I lease is used in a therapeutic riding facility which significantly helps children with various physical and mental disabilities. It’s wonderful to see the face of an autistic child on the back of a horse! Grants might be provided for this very helpful type of program.); 3) clinics to humanely euthanize horses could be established to help people who can’t afford to euthanize their horse (please know that, despite the protestations of the pro-slaughter contingent, horse slaughter is NOT humane, as evinced by the affidavit of Dr. Lester Friedlander, former USDA Chief Inspector to Congress as well as by countless USDA photographs taken at horse slaughterhouses and obtained through FOIA requests);; 4) more horse rescues could be established.

        BTW, I for one would rather have my tax money be spent to help Americans rather than used to pay for USDA inspectors of meat to be consumed by foreigners. The roughly $5-6,000,000 which would be spent to fund inspections of meat to be consumed by foreigners would jeopardize the American meat supply by diverting already-limited funds away from inspecting meat which we, as Americans, consume. Why should we subsidize foreigners in this way? Don’t we already do enough of that–often at the expense of our fellow Americans?

        Also, .please remember that the claims of the pro-slaughter contingent, re: the glut of “abandoned” horses are greatly exaggerated. As I said earlier, the 2010 European Commission Final Report on the Mexican plants indicated that 5,336 of 62,560 horses presented for slaughter in Mexico were rejected. Kill buyers typically dump these rejected animals in the Southwest so that they can have empty trucks to pick up the next load of horses. Thus, slaughter itself is the primary cause of horse abandonment. Eliminate slaughter by passing the Safeguard American Food Exports Act (the SAFE Act) which would prohibit horse slaughter on US soil as well as ban the shipment of horses abroad for slaughter, and you eliminate the primary cause of horse abandonment.

        And, as I said, I CHALLENGE THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION PROVING HIS CLAIM OF 150,000 to 300,000 abandoned horses. Do the math for that outrageous claim. If it were true, there would be horses on virtually every street corner in America!

  • A few more things, relative to this poorly-researched article:

    Yes–federal funding for USDA inspections was allowed again in the Ag Appropriations bill after three “legislators” (Kohl, Blunt, Kingston) underhandedly and surreptitiously removed the ban on this “must-pass” Ag Bill–with absolutely NO debate in Congress. And this is “democracy”? Three “legislators” can undermine the will of 80% of the American public who opposes horse slaughter?

    Further–the GAO report to which this author refers also indicated that horse slaughter should be completely banned–a fact that he, as a paid lobbyist for the horse-slaughter contingent–chooses to ignore.

    And, where oh where does this author get his “facts,” re: the purported 150,000 to 300,000 “abandoned” horses wandering around the Southwest. The truth is that what ‘abandoned” horses exist are the result of horse slaughter itself. Over 5,000 horses of approximately 60,000 horses presented to Mexican plants for slaughter were rejected. Subsequently, they were dumped by the “kill buyers” in NM so that those kill buyers could take empty trucks back to pick up another load of horses.


    • I don’t have all the details/documentation, etc. All I know is that life ends.
      There needs to be a way to gracefully end a life that cannot be pleasant or serve any function.
      That’s the way it is with animals.
      With horses, I have seen old horses lingering on and on for years.
      A rack of bones nobody has the heart to shoot. I’m sure their meat would not be fit for human consumption. Nor had I ever considered the horse meat be sold for human consumption. Maybe for dog food, but that sounds like meat contaminated with bute would not be fit for dogs either. Number one: it sounds like ‘we’ need to discontinue using bute and/or anything else we don’t want contaminating the environment and/or other animals.
      The state agricultural college will put horses down and cremate the bodies for $1,000.
      That is difficult for most to afford.

  • Hi Kaylor,

    Yes, I agree that, “…there needs to be a way to gracefully end a life that cannot be pleasant or serve any function.” But please do believe that slaughter is not a way to “gracefully” end a horse’s life. Rather, it is brutal. Again, given the natural flight instinct of horses, it is impossible to “humanely” slaughter them. Please do see the affidavit of Dr. Lester Friedlander, former USDA Chief Inspector (which appears at the end of my post immediately above your first post) to corroborate this fact. The pro-slaughter advocates want people to believe that horse slaughter is humane so that they can profit from this dirty little practice; however, countless USDA photographs taken inside horse slaughterhouses and obtained through FOIA requests prove otherwise.

    That’s why I suggested the possibility of implementing euthanasia clinics to mitigate the cost of this for horse owners. Again–I for one would much rather my tax money go to helping Americans in this regard (and to provide grants to open therapeutic riding centers which would greatly aid physically and mentally challenged children and adults as well as their families) rather than have it be spent to subsidize a predatory industry (in the form of USDA inspections) which would supply meat for foreigners–and employ undocumented workers in dangerous, low-paying jobs. What do Americans get out of this deal? Subsidizing a predatory industry in yet a new type of welfare?

    BTW, horse meat is no longer used as dog food because it was discovered that a genetic defect in collies resulted in very bad health issues for them when they ingested horse meat. In addition, the deaths of two big cats (sorry, don’t remember if they were lions or tigers) in a zoo were traced to their having eaten horse meat.

    And, regarding the possibility of bute contaminating the environment, please consider the fact that horse blood very badly contaminates the environment. Horses have nearly twice as much blood per pound of body weight as cattle. And, because it is contaminated by bute and other substances, it can no longer be sold as fertilizer as it had been before. The sheer volume of horse blood produced by horse slaughterhouses is the reason why the sewers couldn’t handle it, and horse blood backed up into bathtubs in Kaufman, TX where the Belgian-owned Dallas Crown horse slaughterhouse operated until the Kaufman residents managed to shut it down after a 25-year fight.

    Regarding bute–there are controls already in place. The FDA already bans the use of bute in animals intended to be used as food. So it really is very simple–horses may not be used as food as they are not food animals in this country. It’s really not necessary to ban the use of bute in horses; it’s just necessary to ban the use of horses for food. It is unbelievable that USDA is considering issuing permits to slaughter bute-contaminated American horses when our own FDA prohibits the use of bute in animals intended for human consumption.

    Also, in Saskatchewan Canada, where the Natural Farms (or was it named Natural Valley Farms?) horse slaughterhouse operated until it was shut down for numerous environmental violations, horse blood contaminated the drinking water supply–because the plant illegally dumped it in fields. Thus, given the volume of horse blood involved in horse slaughter, it’s very likely that any plant operating would clearly violate the Clean Water Act and result in Americans ingesting many toxins through their drinking water.

  • ok…………horses are given bute – not intending they be used for food
    old, sick, infirm etc horses go for slaughter and they are used for food?
    They are not even used for dog food, or fertilizer or even zoo animal food.
    What is a dead horse used for?
    Their blood contaminates the ground.
    Slaughter is not “graceful”, nor even humane.
    Somewhere back there, I think it was you who stated the very low percentage of horses that go to slaughter. Where do the other dead horses go? They only live about 30 years, at the most.
    What would you suggest be done with horses at the end of their life?

    • Hi Kaylor,

      There are a number of options for disposing of a horse carcass (after the horse has been humanely euthanized by a vet). I’ll note them in a bit.

      Also, Kaylor, it’s not “old, sick infirm” horses that go to slaughter. That’s another lie circulated by the pro-slaughter contingent. The meat industry wants healthy horses for healthy meat. In fact, USDA statistics indicate that 92% of slaughtered horses are fat, young and healthy.

      First, I’d like to point out about the horse blood and toxic substances that it’s a matter of degree. When one or several horses die, it’s not too difficult to safely dispose of their bodies. But, with slaughter, we’re talking about a massive amount of blood and toxins to be disposed of at one time–in the same place. And, it’s no surprise that none of the plants in the US were in compliance when they were operating. They were constantly cited for violations. (Please see data from my first post). Also, Natural Valley Farms in Canada dumped massive amounts of horse blood in fields and in streams which contaminated both the groundwater and the drinking water supply before it was finally shut down for so many violations. As another example, Valley Meats, the company in Roswell, NM which is trying to open a horse slaughterhouse proposes to kill at least 100 horses per day. That’s a lot of blood and a lot of toxins. Please remember that horses have almost twice as much blood per pound of body weight as cattle. Too much to safely handle.

      BTW, the owner of Valley Meats is a convicted felon. And, he committed yet another felony (punishable by a five-year prison sentence) when he lied on two USDA applications applying for a permit to slaughter horses, stating that he’d never been convicted of a felony. (On the third application, he admitted his felony convictions).

      And, also, when he was slaughtering cattle, he was cited many times for environmental violations, including water safety violations. In fact, he was fined over $86,000 by the state of NM for leaving a 15-foot pile of cattle parts to rot. And this is someone who proposes to safely dispose of the blood and offal of horses which have so much more blood than cattle. NOT! (Look out, Roswell, if this man is allowed to go forward with his horrific plans–there goes the environment and the tourist industry).

      What apparently happens is that the blood is put into lagoons–from which, of course, given the massive amount involved, it will leach into the ground and eventually the groundwater. As I said, this man couldn’t handle cattle; how, therefore, could he possibly handle the ultimate flight animal which has nearly twice as much blood as a cow? It’s no surprise that four US legislators have written Obama, asking him to stop this plant. And, no surprise that a NM legislator has contacted Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, asking him to refuse the permit to the owner of Valley Meats.

      As I said, if only several horses die, there are many safe options to dispose of their bodies, including rendering plants. Also some areas allow their disposal in landfills; and horse cemetaries and crematoriums exist.. Some people bury them on their own land, safely away from any water. The vet who euthanizes the horse can advise. Also, the link below discusses means to safely dispose of the carcasses:

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