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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Horse Slaughter Houses Approved 

by USDA

 By Dorinda Troutman, RMR Staff Writer

 

August 2013 issue  

 

      In a 2007 federal circuit court ruling upholding the banning of horse slaughter in one state, a judge wrote, “The lone cowboy riding his horse is a cinematic icon. Not once in memory did that cowboy eat his horse.”

      In spite of that sentiment, and other rulings preventing horse slaughter, horse processing plants have been steadily moving toward opening in many states in the last few months.

      Plants in Roswell , New Mexico , and Sigourney , Iowa , are set to open August 5, 2013. The USDA has also approved a horse slaughter plant in Gallatin , Missouri .

      The Agriculture Department said that it was required by law to issue a “grant of inspection” of the Sigourney facility, in southeastern Iowa , because it met all federal requirements. USDA will also be obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant.

      However, “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.”

      Horsemeat cannot be sold as human food in the U.S. , but can be exported. Nearly 159,000 horses were exported from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico during 2012 — most likely for slaughter.

      Congress banned horse slaughter in 2006 with a law stating that the USDA could not spend any money to inspect plants. The ban was extended a year at a time until 2011.

      Language that would stop horse slaughter plants is back in the Agriculture appropriations bill for 2014. Two other bills would ban horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter. Animal welfare groups have filed lawsuits to stop the plants from opening.

      Horse slaughter proponents often cite a Government Accountability Office 2011 report that estimated the average per head price of a horse in the lowest price category — the kind of horse that could once be sold to a slaughterhouse for $400 to $600 — decreased by nearly 21% when horsemeat processing stopped. It cited 17 state veterinarians who claimed that the cessation of domestic slaughter was one of the two most significant factors contributing to the decline of horse welfare between 2007 and 2011.

      People arguing against horse slaughter cite the collapse of the economy in 2008, along with horse overpopulation and the increased price of caring for a horse, as reasons for the lowered overall price of horses — just like the housing market. They also argue that horse slaughter facilities are inhumane, and that unlike other livestock meat, horsemeat can contain pharmaceuticals that makes it unfit for human consumption.

 

 

Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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