Monday, May 30, 2011

URGENT ALERT: Calls Needed to Congress TUESDAY to Stop Horse Slaughter!

From Animal Welfare Institute:

May 30, 2011

URGENT eALERT:  Calls Needed TUESDAY in Support of Amendment Keeping Federal Government out of Horse Slaughter Business!

Dear Humanitarian,

Late last week the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill.  The language defunding the required USDA inspections of horse slaughter facilities was not included for the first time since 2005, despite strong bipartisan support in Congress.  This first step, if successful, may allow foreign investors the opportunity to reestablish horse slaughter in the US.

At a time when Congress is dramatically cutting back federal spending and eliminating wasteful federal programs, it is disturbing that some in Congress would allow for the reestablishment of a taxpayer subsidized federal program that existed solely to support foreign owned horse slaughter facilities that inflicted tremendous suffering on American horses.


The full House Appropriations Committee will be voting on the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations bill this Tuesday afternoon.  An amendment will be offered to restore the prohibition on putting USDA inspectors in horse slaughter facilities.  Restoring this USDA defund language is important, and it is critical that you call and urge your legislator to support the amendment.

There is time to have your voices heard, but you must act immediately. If your Representative is on the House Appropriations Committee (see list below), they need to hear from you.  These members have supported a ban on horse slaughter so you should remind them of their previous support and urge them to vote in favor of the amendment. Please give them a call first thing Tuesday morning and urge friends, family and coworkers to do the same.

You can call the main Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-2131 and ask to be connected to your Representatives office or you can visit AWI's Compassion Index to find their direct number.

Harold D. Rogers, KY                    C.W. Bill Young, FL
Jerry Lewis, CA                             Frank Wolf, VA
Rodney Frelinghuysen, NJ            Robert B. Aderholt, AL
Ander Crenshaw, FL                     Rodney Alexander, LA
Ken Calvert, CA                            Steve LaTourette, OH
Mario Diaz-Balart, FL                   Charles Dent, PA
Norm Dicks, WA                           Marcy Kaptur, OH
Pete Visclosky, IN                         Nita Lowey, NY
Jose Serrano, NY                           Rosa DeLauro, CT
Jim Moran, VA                               John Olver, MA
Davis Price, NC                             Maurice Hinchey, NY
Lucille Roybal-Allard, CA              Sam Farr, CA
Jesse Jackson, IL                           Chaka Fattah, PA
Steve Rothman, NJ                        Barbara Lee, Ca
Adam Schiff, CA                            Betty McCollum, MN

Agriculture Appropriations:
Retain Language Defunding Federal Inspection of Horse Meat and Horses for Slaughter for Human Consumption

•    On the FY2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Representatives John Sweeney (R-NY), Spratt (D-SC) and Whitfield (R-KY) offered an amendment to eliminate federal funding for the inspection of horsemeat – required by federal law – for horses being slaughtered for human consumption.  This amendment passed 269-158.  The Senate overwhelmingly approved a similar amendment in the Senate sponsored by the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

•         Funding federal inspection of horse slaughter plants is fiscally irresponsible.  Only foreign corporations, which deal in horsemeat for consumption by wealthy foreign gourmands overseas, would benefit from federal inspection of horse slaughter plants.  Funding these inspections will only benefit foreign markets - at the expense of American taxpayers - and will add to the size of the federal deficit.  Precious federal dollars should be conserved and put to better use by funding worthy domestic programs, including those programs that ensure the safety of food that is consumed in our country.

•         Inspecting horse slaughter facilities is a federal responsibility.  Horse slaughter is a federally regulated industry. Opponents claim that slaughtering horses for human consumption is a states’ rights issue. The slaughtering of any animal for human consumption in the U.S. is a federally regulated process. This is the same for beef, hogs or other livestock (Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603); Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901). In addition, since horses sent to slaughter come from all 50 states, and horsemeat is not consumed in the U.S., it must be hauled across state lines and the over the U.S. border.  Prior to the closure of the horse slaughter plants in the U.S., very few of the horses slaughtered in a state actually came from that state. Further, if federally-funded inspections were to begin, none of the meat would be consumed in the state where a horse was slaughtered, as we do not consume horsemeat in this country.  Lastly, if a horse slaughter plant were to open in the U.S., the plant would slaughter horses transported across state lines, including horses from states strongly opposed to horse slaughter. A state should have the “right” to protect its own horses from slaughter.

•         Live horses benefit the U.S. economy.  The horse industry (racing, showing, eventing, etc.) bring billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year.  While selling a 5-year-old horse to slaughter might bring $50 to a killer buyer, and more to the foreign investor, keeping that horse alive and in the local economy will bring far greater return for years to come in income and job growth.

•         Horses sent to slaughter are healthy and robust, not “unwanted.” The USDA estimates that 92.3 percent of the horses being sent to slaughter are healthy and can continue to be productive animals – they are not old or infirm.

•         American horsemeat poses a serious risk to human health. Horses in the U.S. are not raised as food animals, so while their flesh may be considered a delicacy by foreign gourmands, it poses serious risks to human health.  According to a recent Food and Chemical Toxicology report, substances routinely given to American horses cause dangerous adverse effects in humans.  If federally funded inspections were to begin, not only would taxpayer dollars be needed to inspect these facilities, but additional funding would be required to enforce transport regulations and increased food safety testing as required by new European Union mandates.

•    Horse slaughter for human consumption is a cruel process and one that should not be practiced here in the U.S.  Americans do not eat horsemeat. Over 70 percent of the country believes that this is a cruel and unnecessary practice.

•    Approximately 100,000 American horses are exported to slaughter each year. There are 9 million horses in the U.S.  Of the 900,000 horses that die annually, approximately 100,000 are sent to Mexico and Canada for slaughter for human consumption by foreign gourmands.  Despite claims made by horse slaughterhouse lobbyists, each year the same number of American horses are slaughtered that were slaughtered when U.S. based plants were in operation. Our horses are simply being hauled to a location outside of the U.S. for slaughter for human consumption. The closure of the horse slaughter plants in the U.S. have not led to an increase in “unwanted” horses, as the same number of horses are being slaughtered now that were prior to the closure of the plants in the U.S.

•    Slaughter is not humane euthanasia. The average cost to humanely euthanize a horse by a licensed veterinarian is $225, roughly the same cost that it takes to feed and shelter a horse for one month.  Properly euthanizing a horse is not cost-prohibitive and is what the vast majority of Americans choose to do with their horses at the end of their lives.

•    This language must be retained. This defund language has prevented horse slaughter plants in the U.S. from operating, and any new facilities from opening, which is why it is crucial in eliminating this cruel practice in the U.S.  This defund language has been included in every Agriculture Appropriations bill since FY06. Americans taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for this unnecessary practice now, or ever.

Thanks for your help.  Be sure to share this eAlert with friends, family and coworkers and encourage them to contact their legislator as well.

Chris Heyde

Deputy Director, Government and Legal Affairs
900 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20003

The Animal Welfare Institute has been working to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by humans since 1951.
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