Sunday, February 7, 2010

RESEARCH PAPER | Horse Slaughter Trends from 2006 through 2009

Equine Welfare Alliance

The Equine Welfare Alliance is an umbrella organization representing over 95
organizations and hundreds of individuals across the United States and several
countries worldwide.
Prepared by John Holland
Recent History
In 2007, all three of the foreign owned horse slaughter plants in the United States were shut
down under Texas and Illinois state laws. The two Texas based plants, BelTex in Dallas and
Dallas Crown in Kaufman, were closed in February when the 5th District court ruled that a 1949
law against selling horsemeat was valid and in force. The last remaining plant, Cavel
International in DeKalb, Illinois, was closed in mid-September of the same year under a new
state law making horse slaughter illegal.
Much has been written about the impact of these closings on equine welfare, abandonment and
other issues. Groups in favor of reinstating horse slaughter have consistently claimed that
“eliminating the slaughter option” had a severe negative impact on equine welfare, but the
trends in slaughter since the US plants closed show this is impossible.
In 2008, a study was done by EWA researchers that looked at the relationship of slaughter to
abuse in the period immediately following the closing of the plants. That paper found that
there was not in fact a measurable nationwide increase in the number of cases of abuse and
neglect between the closings and the end of the study period (March of 2008).
The paper did, however, demonstrate that there was a link between the number of equine
abuse and neglect cases and the level of unemployment in Illinois. In its conclusions, the paper
warned that, if the economy continued to slip deeper into recession, there could in fact be a
negative impact on equine welfare.
Recent Trends
The purpose of this paper is to document the trends in slaughter since the closing of the US
plants. It is not the purpose of this paper to replicate the findings from the earlier study, but
simply to make available updated information about slaughter rates and horse meat market
The US based plants were hardly taken by surprise when ordered closed. The two Texas plants
had been fighting for their existence for some years. The Dallas Crown plant had also been
operating under a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) after the Kaufman Board of Adjustments

had ordered them closed for pollution and sewer violations. The Cavel plant had similarly been
in violation of its sewer discharge limits for some time. And all three plants were facing a
removal of federal meat inspectors.
As a result of these prolonged battles, the parent companies of all these plants had made
arrangements to move their slaughter operations over the borders to Mexico and Canada. The
graph Total US Equines Slaughtered shows just how quickly the slaughter industry shifted its
The red line is the total number of American horses slaughtered domestically and through
export. The blue line shows domestic slaughter and the orange and green lines show exports
to Mexico and Canada respectively.


No comments:

Post a Comment