Wednesday, June 1, 2011

After Loss, Slaughter Leader Issues Manifesto

Horseback Magazine

June 1, 2011
Ag Appropriations Report and our Initial Response
By Sue Wallis,   

WASHINGTON, (United Organizations of the Horse) – Last night the Ag Appropriations Committee voted 24-21 to adopt Rep. Moran, Virginia, amendment to reinstate the prohibition on inspection of horse meat. This in spite of Rep. Lummis’ knowledgeable and articulate testimony and over the objection of Subcommittee Chairman Kingston.
This is just the opening round, however, and we still have multiple opportunities to fix the bill before the 2012 appropriations process is complete. Our next chance will be when the committee bill comes to a full vote of the House on June 15th. Then it will go to the Senate and goes through the complete process over there. Needless to say we are circling the wagons with our coalition partners and will do our best to keep you apprised as we move along. We will be asking for your help throughout, and really appreciate your willingness to step up on behalf of our industry.
Moran is well known for his support of HSUS causes, so that it is not surprising that he would bring forward the amendment-what was disappointing to so many of us is that the Committee did not honor our request to not inflict any more damage on the horse industry until after they have had a chance to review the findings of the GAO Report on the welfare of horses and the effect on the equine economy of the plants closing.
That long anticipated report is done. It was delivered to USDA last Friday, and is due to Congress within two weeks of that date.
Our message remains the same. There is no disagreement in that we all expect horses to be well cared for and not abused from birth to death. The only disagreement boils down to a private property rights issue. The veterinarians agree that there are three humane ways to end a horse’s life, by bullet, by captive bolt, by lethal drug. Bullets and captive bolts provide instantaneous insensibility. Lethal drugs can cause many long minutes of suffering before the animal finally succumbs, which many of us have witnessed with our own eyes, and results in a large, expensive, toxic drug ridden carcass that cannot be buried for fear of leaching into water tables, cannot be left above ground for fear of other animals feeding on the carcass and dying, cannot even be rendered where that is available because the drugs survive the rendering process-basically results in a thousand pounds of toxic waste.
On the other hand, a horse in a processing plant dies instantaneously with a minimum of pain or stress and their meat is welcomed by a thriving worldwide market providing the horse owner who chooses to receive some return on their investment a decent price. From a humanitarian viewpoint the result is the same, the horse has been dealt with in the best possible way. The only difference is whether the carcass is used or disposed of-for some that means a burial for an old friend, for others it is a bit of income that can be reinvested in better or more useful animals to support their livelihood. No one should have the right to dictate to someone else whether or not they respect their horse’s life by making sure it is not wasted, or dictate how that carcass should be disposed of-only the owner of the horse should determine that.
Secondly there is the issue of Congress once again issuing edicts that prevent states from developing their own economies. Strongly worded resolutions from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, the National Congress of American Indians and other such organizations reflect the position of state, local, and tribal governments and have called on Congress not to pass such measures.
The fact is that the well developed projects in Wyoming, North Dakota, Oregon, Montana, Missouri and elsewhere would create over a Thousand good paying jobs almost overnight with the ability to access the export market. It is ironic that the Ag Appropriations process funds millions of dollars of government inspected beef, pork, lamb, and chicken FOR EXPORT, but one of Rep. Moran’s main arguments was that the USDA shouldn’t inspect meat only meant for export!
Instead our excess, unusable, unwanted horses must endure the sorry choice of being killed, albeit humanely, but totally wasted; or trucked for thousands of miles to other countries to be processed where we have no control over how that is done (not to mention their economy gets enhanced, not ours, we’re now importing millions of tons of horse meat for zoo diet and ethnic markets); or being abandoned to fend for themselves where they inevitably die an agonizing death of starvation where they all too often become the victim of predators and have their guts and their butts eaten by wolves or coyotes while they are still alive (google the recent wolf kill of a prized horse in Darby, Montana to see what wolves do to horses). Look up A Million – 400% increase in reports of abandoned, neglected horses every year since the plants closed. That is abuse!
Many aspects of Rep. Moran’s testimony were disturbing, misleading, and false. The fact is that allowing horse plants to pay for their own processing fees would add zero cost, and require zero appropriation, not the $5 million that he claimed.
To say that the only benefactors of horse processing are foreign countries is almost beyond belief when the secondary market for an entire sector of animal agriculture is eliminated-a 30% to 80% drop in value of horses nationwide with the commensurate loss of income and assets to our U.S. horse owners.
To say that Americans do not use horse meat is crazy when three quarters of the world does, and we have a long and honorable history in this country of using and enjoying a meat that is so healthy and nutritious-twice the protein, half the fat, high in iron and other beneficial nutrients with, for instance, eighteen times the omega three fatty acids.
To say that all horses are full of toxic drugs is an exaggeration so outrageous as to be beyond belief-number one, the vast majority of horses who are not performance or sport horses ever receive any kind of veterinary medicine in their entire lives, those that are can be held for an appropriate withdrawal period before processing depending on the drug, and there are tests for both live animals before processing and for carcasses afterwards that can detect any drug residue down to the parts per trillion-combine that with the fact that EU has NEVER found any significant drug residue in any carcass in any horse plant in the United States, Canada, or Mexico, EVER. It strikes us as a bit ingenuous that people so opposed to eating horse meat are raising food safety issues as their argument against it.
The brutal truth is that the entire United States equine industry is in the process of liquidating and downsizing. Until we see the GAO Report no one has any accurate accounting of how many jobs and livelihoods have already been lost. It is no exaggeration to note that without a responsible and regulated option for processing to deal with excess otherwise unusable and unwanted horses that we will inevitable lose another 200,000 to 300,000 jobs. Without a secondary outlet, the whole market has plummeted, breeding has essentially stopped.
Fewer horses means fewer jobs means fewer horse shows, fewer rodeos, fewer horse trailers, fewer training dollars, fewer veterinary needs, fewer saddles, bridles, less need for feed-that all amounts to a devastating economic contraction that is destroying our prized American horseback culture.
Our efforts to restore the private property rights of horse owners, to rejuvenate an entire sector of animal agriculture, to create jobs and opportunity, and to preserve our cultures and livelihoods will continue.

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