Source: Huffington Post, by Tim Talley
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma's 50-year-old ban on horse slaughtering was lifted Friday when the governor signed a new law that will allow facilities to process and export horse meat, despite bitter opposition by animal rights activists.
Supporters argue that a horse slaughtering facility in Oklahoma will provide a humane alternative for aging or starving horses, many of which are abandoned in rural parts of the state by owners who can no longer afford to care for them. Gov. Mary Fallin also noted that horses are already being shipped out of the country, including to facilities in Mexico, where they are processed in potentially inhumane conditions.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 166,000 horses were sent to Canada and Mexico last year alone.
"In Oklahoma, as in other states, abuse is tragically common among horses that are reaching the end of their natural lives," the Republican governor said. "Those of us who care about the wellbeing of horses – and we all should – cannot be satisfied with a status quo that encourages abuse and neglect, or that rewards the potentially inhumane slaughter of animals in foreign countries." She noted that law strictly prohibits the selling of horse meat for human consumption in the U.S.
Similar efforts are under way in other states, but not without controversy. In New Mexico, a processing plant has been fighting the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than a year for approval to convert its former cattle slaughter operation into a horse slaughterhouse. In Nevada, state agriculture officials have discussed ways to muster support for the slaughter of free-roaming horses, stirring protests.
The Oklahoma legislation received bipartisan support and was approved by wide margins in both the state House and Senate. It also was backed by several agriculture organizations including the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association and American Farmers.
But animal rights groups fought hard against the plan, including the Humane Society of the United States. Cynthia Armstrong, the organization's Oklahoma state director, said she was disappointed.
"It's a very sad day for Oklahoma and the welfare of the horses that will be exposed to a facility like this," Armstrong said. "It's very regrettable."
Press Release today by Congressman Jim Moran, calling on USDA to Deny Horse Slaughter Facility Permits and for the agency to include slaughter ban in FY ’14 budget.
Specifically addressing Secretary Vilsack, Moran wrote, “I believe that you, consistent with your regulatory authority, should deny Valley Meat’s permit for horse slaughter inspections so further consideration can be given to the important responsibility of monitoring equine drug residues. To this end, I ask that USDA provide an official response to the petition for rulemaking to label horse meat as adulterated prior to issuing a grant of inspection. It is regrettable that Congress allowed the prohibition on federal funding for horse slaughter inspections to lapse. While I work to restore this ban, I strongly urge you to exercise all available options to prevent the resumption of this industry. I also stand ready and willing to work with you in developing a responsible plan for handling unwanted horses.”
Read Moran’s entire Press Release: http://moran.house.gov/press-release/moran-calls-usda-deny-horse-slaughter-facility-permits
Source: Sooner Poll, by Bill Shapard
A strong majority (66 percent) of Oklahoma likely voters opposes passage of
proposed legislation allowing for the slaughter of horses here in Oklahoma, and
of those that oppose, 88 percent strongly oppose the legislation, according to a
The Oklahoma legislature is currently considering two bills, House Bill 1999 and Senate Bill 375, which would allow for slaughter of horses here in Oklahoma for human consumption in other countries but would maintain a ban on the sale of horsemeat in the state.
A strong majority, 65.1 percent, of respondents in rural counties opposes the
legislation, despite claims by the horse slaughter proponents that rural
communities support it. Counties within the Tulsa MSA, 69.6 percent, and counties within the Oklahoma City MSA, 64.3 percent, also have high levels of opposition to horse slaughter.
Significant majorities of all political parties also oppose horse slaughter: 72.5 percent of Independents oppose this legislation, followed by 67.6 percent of Democrats and 63.4 percent of Republicans. Another strong majority, 60.5 percent, of conservative respondents, who make up more than half of all likely voters, is opposed to the horse slaughter legislation, as well as 74.7 percent of moderates.
When asked about having a horse slaughter operation in their community, an overwhelming majority, 72.3 percent, of likely voters is opposed, with 91.9 percent of these likely voters in strong opposition. Sixty-eight percent of rural likely voters oppose having a horse slaughter facility in their local community, followed by 74.6 percent of likely voters in the Tulsa metro area and
75.8 percent in the Oklahoma City metro.
A majority of likely voters, 54.1 percent, would be unlikely to vote to re-elect their senator or house representative if he or she voted in favor of this horse slaughter legislation regardless of whether or not it becomes law.
Voters were also asked about particular organizations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society of the United States, two groups opposed to horse slaughter, received combined favorability (strongly and somewhat favorable) of 69.5 percent and 64.4 percent, respectively, from likely voters. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, a group advocating for horse slaughter, had combined favorability among 63.4 percent of respondents.
SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, designed and administered this telephone survey, which was commissioned by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society
of the United States (HSUS). This study was conducted March 16-21, 2013 using live interviewers, with 452 likely voters in Oklahoma selected to participate at random using a dual frame of landlines and cell phones. Respondents in the
landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who was at home. In the cell sample, the person who answered the phone, provided that person was an adult 18 years of age or older, was asked the survey
questions. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.61 percent. The full Call Dispositions and Rate Calculations were calculated by SoonerPoll.com
Source: Food Safety News
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters Wednesday Congress should come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.
His comments came as USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has five at least partially completed applications to slaughter horses for human consumption, probably only for export, under active review.
Rather than offering a specific alternative, Vilsack seemed to be thinking
outside the box, saying horses might help veterans who’ve returned from war or be used for equipping prison inmates about to be released with job skills.
Vilsack said there needs to be “a third way” to deal with the nation’s horse problem, instead of relying on just killing the animals or slaughtering them for human food.
Just as they are required by federal law to provide continuous inspection for beef, pork, lamb and poultry slaughtering and processing, USDA’s meat inspectors are required to provide the same service for qualified equine businesses.
Since Congress and the Obama Administration lifted the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption, five pending applications have been filed and one has appealed USDA’s delay into federal court. USDA prefers renewing the ban instead.
Vilsack said that since the last inspected horsemeat slaughterhouse closed in 2006, science has improved on monitoring equine drug residues, a consideration which is getting attention in the current application process.
After the ban was imposed, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of Congress studied the issue of unwanted horses in the U.S. and found sharp increases in starving and abandoned horses after the domestic slaughterhouses went out of business. It is a burdensome trend for many tribal and county governments. A brisk business exists, however, for exporting live horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
The five applicants for horse slaughter are:
1. Valley Meat of Roswell, NM;
2. Oklahoma Meat Co. of Washington, OK;
3. Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, MO;
4. Trail South Meat Processing of Woodbury, TN;
5. Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, IA.
Source: Food Safety News, by Dan Flynn
UPDATE: Since originally published this morning, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) public affairs staff have provided Food Safety News with copies of the applications for equine inspection services. The FSIS officials did so in part to illustrate that most of the applications are not complete in the sense that items are missing or not filled out correctly, meaning, an official says,
they “are not even close to having a walk through with FSIS.” From those applications, some additional information has been added to this story. One thing is certain. The future of horse slaughter in the U.S. is being fought out mostly in small towns.
From Larkspur, Colorado the anti-slaughter Front Range Equine Rescue group Thursday disclosed the names of four more horse slaughter applicants.The four are in addition to New Mexico’s Valley Meat, which is located outside Roswell (pop. 48,386). The five in total have applied for federal meat inspection services under the “equine” option on USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service forms.
Valley Meat’s application, filed Dec. 13, 2011, has been known for months both because Front Range Equine Rescue has been opposing it, and because the business has gone into federal court in hopes it can get a federal judge to order FSIS to provide inspection services.
The others are managed to stay beneath the radar, until now. They are:
- Rains Natural Meats, Gallatin, Missouri (pop. 1,791). Located in rural Northwest Missouri, Rains is a division of Pro Show Enterprises Inc., also based in Gallatin. In its Jan. 15, 2013 cover letter, manager David Rains writes:
“We area already starting the changes in our HACCP Plan to address drug residue in horses.”
- Trail South Meat Processing in Woodbury, Tennessee (pop. 2681). Trail South is listed in one foreign trade directory as a
supplier of boxed frozen horsemeat to Asia and Europe. Founded in 2012, Stanley Dobson is listed as chief executive officer.
It is owned by Trail South LLC based in Auburntown, TN. Its application is dated June 1, 2012.
- Oklahoma Meat Co. in Washington, Oklahoma (pop 520). Ahsan Amil is listed as the owner/manager on the May 18, 2012
application. Washington is just 30 minutes south of Norman, home of the University of Oklahoma.
- Responsible Transportation, Sigourney, Iowa (pop. 2059). Work is reportedly underway in Southeast Iowa to turn the old Louis Rich Plant north of town into a horse slaughter facility. Responsible Transportation LLC wants to be up and running by late spring or early summer 2013. It has the editorial support of the local newspaper, the Sigourney News-Review. Keaton Walker is president and chief executive officer for Responsible Transportation LLC.
USDA’s Des Moines district office wrote Responsible Transportation on Dec. 26, 2012 to advise the firm that it “cannot begin
operations until a Conditional Grant of Inspection is issued, and provided a worksheet that needed to be completed“before or during” a walk-through.
Valley Meat is owned by Sarah and Ricardo de los Santos, and was previously a beef plant that ran into financial problems and
was forced to cutback operations. Some of Oklahoma’s top lawmakers have been moving legislation to lift the state ban on horse slaughter as long as the meat is processed for export only.
At the same time, new efforts are underway in Congress to re-impose the ban on horse slaughter that was lifted more than a year ago after being in place for about five years.
Originally, USDA declined to provide copies of the applications outside of the formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)process, but since the request filed by the Colorado horse rescue group was approved, FSIS opted to provide them to Food Safety News.
With no domestic “sale barn” option for disposing of horses since the last legal horse slaughter plant closed down in 2007,
some experts say the “unintended consequences” have been more cruelty to the animals now than before.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) of Congress documented those concerns in a report two years ago, and the Obama Administration and Congress opted to lift the ban a year
On March 13th, 2013, Members of congress and national animal welfare groups will be introducing federal legislation (SAFE Act) to stop the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses across the US Border for slaughter. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Rep. Patrick Meehan, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky will be introducing the bill. The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will be holding a press conference on Capitol Hill with the three lawmakers.
Tom Persechino, executive director of competition and breed integrity for the American Quarter Horse Association, released the following letter in support of Oklahoma Rep. Skye McNiel's bill to allow horse slaughter facilities in Oklahoma:
Representative Skye McNiel
Oklahoma State Legislature
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 433B Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Dear Representative McNiel,
The American Quarter Horse Association continues to increase its role in public policy and advocacy concerning the American Quarter Horse and all horses. In addition to increasing advocacy of the American Quarter Horse in public policy, AQHA continues to keep the horse as its foremost concern by providing programs to members promoting the health and wellbeing of their America Quarter Horses.
AQHA believes it is the owner’s responsibility and, ultimately, their choice regarding decisions concerning the welfare of their horse(s). The Association encourages responsible ownership practices and management that will reduce the number of unwanted horses and recognizes that federally regulated, humane processing of unwanted horses is a necessary aspect of the equine industry because it provides a humane euthanasia alternative for horses that might otherwise continue a life of discomfort and pain, or inadequate care or abandonment. This position was supported in a United States Government Accountability Office study that was released in June of 2011, entitled “Horse Welfare Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.”
Obviously, the option of horse slaughter is one that is unthinkable by many horse owners, and AQHA respects these owners’ beliefs. However, AQHA’s Public Policy Committee and ultimately Board of Directors continues to advocate that for certain horses, federally regulated processing provides a humane alternative to additional suffering or possibly dangerous situations. Over the years, AQHA has actively supported legislation to ensure the safe and humane transportation of horses that are bound for processing facilities and backed guidelines for how horses must be treated at facilities. The Association also supports other choices for unwanted horses, including euthanasia by injection, life in an equine retirement facility, donation to a college or university, or other options.
The Association has been monitoring Oklahoma’s SB 375 and HB 1999. Should Oklahoma’s Legislature pass these bills and the Governor sign them into law, given AQHA’s previously stated position of support for the option of processing, the Association would not (nor are there any plans to) move either the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show or the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show from Oklahoma.
Since 1976, the AQHA World Show has had a successful history in Oklahoma, and we are currently in negotiations with Oklahoma’s State Fair Park and Oklahoma Convention & Visitor’s Bureau to extend our relationship. The Youth World Show contract was recently extended in Oklahoma, and exhibitors continue to tell us how much the enjoy coming to the state to compete for a coveted world title.
I hope the above information is helpful to you and accurately characterizes AQHA’s position relative to humane, federally regulated horse processing, and the Association’s relationship with the state and city of Oklahoma City.
If at any time I can answer questions for you, please do not hesitate to contact this office.
Executive Director of Competition and Breed Integrity
KEEP HORSE SLAUGHTER, AND ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT, OUT OF OKLAHOMA
As the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service stated back in 2007, “phenylbutazone is considered to be one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is not approved for use in food animals and there are no regulatory limits, such as acceptable daily intake or safe concentration for meat, established by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, the presence of any amount of phenylbutazone in food animal tissue will be considered a violation and likely to be unsafe for human consumption.”
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, who co-authored the peer-reviewed paper with Dr. Ann Marini and Dr. Nicolas Blondeau back in 2010, points to other drugs besides bute that are banned in horses (or other animals) intended for human consumption but that are also found in horse meat entering the food supply.
Horses—and particularly racehorses—are walking pharmacies. “Eating them is about as healthful as eating food contaminated with DDT,” says Dodman, a professor of clinical sciences at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the director of its Animal Behavior Clinic.Pick up a container of phenylbutazone, clenbuterol, Banamine, or Regu-Mate, for example, and the label clearly states: “WARNING: Do Not Use in Horses Intended for Human Consumption.”
That same label exists on an extensive list of other commonly used equine drugs banned for years by the FDA, along with Canadian and EU food-regulatory authorities, among others. They include painkillers, tranquilizers, bronchodilators, anabolic steroids, wormers, ulcer medications, diuretics, antibiotics, fertility drugs, and more.
That list includes drugs that are carcinogens and drugs so toxic that a protective mask and gloves must be worn by anyone who handles them. Some drugs can cause miscarriages; others cause gastrointestinal and renal toxicity; still others can induce feminization in men and masculinization in women. And that’s just for starters. >>Read Full Article
Source: Sheton HeraldCongresswoman Rosa DeLauro
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro said she is opposed to allowing the federal inspection of horse meat in the United States so it can be sold for human consumption.
“Congress needs to reinstate the provision I authored that would prohibit inspection of horse slaughter facilities in the United States,” said DeLauro, a longtime Democrat from the Third District, which includes a part of Shelton.
In recent days there have been reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will have to approve the federal inspection of a horse slaughter facility in New Mexico.
DeLauro, former chairman of the subcommittee responsible for funding the USDA, previously authored a provision passed into law that prohibited federal funds for the inspection of such facilities in the United States. Upon becoming the majority party in the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans ended that prohibition, according to DeLauro’s office.
“Beginning today, food inspection services by the USDA will suffer the same indiscriminate budget cuts as the rest of the federal government,” DeLauro, a New Haven resident, said in a statement on Friday. “The [Obama] administration has said they will have to furlough inspectors.
“The last thing we should be doing,” she continued, “is adding additional inspection responsibilities. I looking forward to questioning USDA officials about this when they testify before the Appropriations Committee.”