The American Horse Slaughter Lobby Fights To Hold Ground


July 15, 2013. Time Magazine, Caroline Kelley



The traditional view of American horse slaughter was best captured in a 2007 federal circuit court ruling. “The lone cowboy riding his horse is a cinematic icon. Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse,” wrote one judge in a decision that permitted a state ban on the practice. That same year, under pressure from animal welfare groups, the U.S. Congress cut all federal funding for the inspection of horsemeat processing plants. The domestic practice of killing equines for human consumption came to a halt.

But the change was not permanent, and a backlash from horse owners ensued. Now, just six years later, horse slaughter has returned to the American landscape, thanks to the efforts of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, a Wyoming horse poet Congresswoman and a retired Texas Democrat at a powerful lobbying firm. The pro-slaughter contingent argues that a ban on horse slaughter is actually worse than the alternative, decreasing the value of horses, shifting slaughtering to outside the U.S. and increasing the chances that horses will be mistreated in their old age.

Congress lifted the ban on horsemeat plant inspection in 2011 despite the objections of President Obama and 70% of Americans, who told pollsters they oppose the practice. In recent weeks, two small companies have been granted inspection permits. Fuming animal welfare groups are doing everything they can to hold off plant inspections until another temporary or permanent ban is put in place, starting with lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, told TIME that he hopes a semipermanent fix can be found when Congress passes 2014 appropriations bills, drafts of which already include a renewal of the 2007 ban. “There’s just no point in a business opening up for a month or two to kill horses,” he said. “We hope that they delay their plans until the congressional funding issue is sorted out.” Pacelle is also pushing another bill that would impose an unequivocal ban on domestic slaughter and the export of live horses.

But success is by no means certain. The current face of the horse slaughter lobby is Rick de los Santos, a man from Roswell, New Mexico who wants to convert his beef processing plant into a horse butchering facility. De los Santos says economic opportunity was the reason for his application for USDA inspection, filed just days after the ban was lifted and granted on June 28th. Horsemeat is considered a delicacy in many countries, and since the 2007 ban, Mexico has been enjoying the product’s healthy profit margin. “Why continue to outsource?” Rick’s wife Sarah asked CBS this year. “I mean, this whole election is going to be about jobs.”

The de los Santos family enjoys the support of a number of members of Congress, some of whom commissioned the Government Accountability Office report that helped lift the ban on inspecting horsemeat processing plants in 2011. The report estimated that 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 between $400 to $600—decreased by nearly 21% when horsemeat processing stopped. It also 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. “While we all love horses and their contribution to our culture, the ban led to unintended consequences and increased inhumane treatment of animals,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who commissioned the report alongside Democrats Herb Kohl and Sam Farr and Republican Roy Blunt. CONTINUED… Read the rest of the article HERE


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AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Arlene

    Long have been praised a proven the American Mustang is departmental to the Land and other wildlife and to each and every American he is a symbol of the West his contributions amazing and without him there would be no West as we know it , he is a ICON and nothing can change that , as American as you and I, he is to be respected his display of Freedom is mindboggling , to Slaughter him would be to slaughter America or Burn the Flag , that is just how important he is to us…….. Just to look at him is to see the Beauty and the Power for which America stands , when i look at him i am filled with pride to think of all he has done for us.. he is the mirror image of what we all should be.. ……………….. !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! RETURN HIM TO FREEDOM he is America !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………………… ..

    July 15, 2013
  • So what I suggest here is investigate the Congressmen/women who are pro-horse slaughter and find out if they/family members/friends/business associates, etc are SUPPLIERS of horses, mules, donkey’s, etc into the slaughter pipeline.

    The VERY interesting thing regarding the feedlot rescues our 501c3 The Starlight Sanctuary has been doing every week since last October is that MOST suppliers do NOT want people to know who they are and that is why their horses often do NOT go through (kill) sales and are sold directly to feedlots.
    There are a number of breeders and trainers in our area who no longer are able to sell horses to the feedlot and/or at the weekly kill sale because with the focus on the Internet for our rescues, some people do recognize horses when we post them on our “needing rescue” page and had NO IDEA that the particular breeder, trainer, rancher, or someone else with many horses sells their horses into the slaughter pipeline……for many of these above mentioned people like the breeders and trainers, their public image is everything to them, so when the image projected is one of disposing of horses for FREE like the cheaters they are, and actually being paid by the pound for their horses that they know will most likely go to slaughter, it does NOT bode well and creates a stigma for them regarding clients that never in a million years knew these people sent horses they don’t want and/or can’t USE anymore to inhumane, cruel and horrific slaughter.

    Most suppliers are VERY SECRETIVE about disposing of horses into the slaughter pipeline, so investigating and EXPOSING the people who are in charge of voting on this issue is crucial to getting it stopped.

    I would be more than happy to join with other people and hire private investigators to investigate members of congress and anyone else in a position of decision-making power and find out exactly WHY they are pro-horse slaughter, if they are making and/or saving money from horse slaughter, if they are paying off “favors” to other people, etc.

    Now THAT would be very interesting reading of those investigative reports and the connection of the dots that leads straight into the slaughter pipeline and also into peoples bank accounts in regard to how much they make and/or save from being pro-horse slaughter.

    July 15, 2013
  • JanSchultz

    For the record, Kohl, Kingston, Blunt and Farr were the four Congressmen who were to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of teh 2011 Ag Bill. Kohl, Kingston and Blunt deleted the defunding of inspections budget item. Farr (of California) was the only man who stood up for the horses and voted against the move by the other three. As for who commissioned the GAO report – I do not know that.

    But Farr of California has consistently voted to protect the horses and is now a cosponsor of the House version of the SAFE act.

    July 15, 2013
  • Debbie Tracy

    I just have a question, the more I learn the more questions I have, unfortunately..?

    Why do a few bad eggs like Blunt, Kingston, Kohl and others have such control over others??? There are A LOT of Rep. Senators and just so many I am shocked ridiculous but that’s another entity in itself. I mean I really don’t understand how they can have the upper hand for so long and NO ONE has stopped them from there destructive me myself and I mentality??? Others in our Gov. have GOT TO SEE what they have been up too and why??

    How can this be honestly??

    Even Suey being elected what??? HOW and KING too HOW….

    Keep calling the White House please everyone we can stop this I know it….. Justice this time WILL PREVAIL…….

    July 15, 2013
    • Daniel Cordero

      Never underestimate the power of propaganda. They are either blinded by the agribusiness “animal rights is evil” garbage or were simply taught to not care at all.

      July 16, 2013
  • Robynne Catheron

    Does anyone know if even one anti-slaughter advocate with any clout has contacted the AQHA, APHA, and the Jockey Club regarding their ridiculous overbreeding/culling practices? If a strong advocacy group were to form a powerful entity specifically for confronting these massive breeders, maybe we could make a difference. I realize that for slaughter to truly end, the demand for horsemeat must end, but we could at least cut down on the vast numbers in the slaughter pipeline if we could curtail the breeding by these huge and politically strong breed organizations. If each new foal registration fee was dramatically increased, with a large portion being shared between bona fide equine charities, maybe we could make a dent in the unwanted horse population. The breed associations themselves aren’t physically overbreeding (as I was told in no uncertain terms), but they strongly encourage and reward breeding amongst their members. In essence, these massive breed associations are either blatantly uncaring, disregarding their roles in the slaughter issue, or are feigning ignorance. I would happily be an active member of any advocacy group that wanted to take on the task of changing the mindsets of these associations, and initiating a few laws in the process. Someone’s got to have the know-how and the network and the cahones to do it, and I’ll help. Anyone else?

    July 15, 2013
  • Debbie Tracy

    I REALLY like Laura’s thought’s, do an undercover investigation into some of the corrupt politicians, then let it go public, can we do that or could someone do this??? THEN we would have it all documented, ALL the REAL reasons in black and white…. EXPOSE THEM FINALLY>>>>>>>> YES

    July 15, 2013
  • Daryl

    Debbie they have been exposed, we need to go to the top government official Obamba is the one and lite a fire under him, more horses have gone to slaughter then any other president. We need to hit the white house with all we have and make enough noise to make them listen.

    July 15, 2013