Tomorrow, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King will be back in court seeking to block the opening of a horse slaughter plant in his state because of unresolved questions about waste disposal and unsafe chemicals in the meat. We hope he prevails. Attorney General King—joined by The HSUS and Front Range Equine Rescue—made similar arguments in the federal courts, which have produced a series of red and green lights for horse slaughter plant proponents over the last five months. Both King, as the state’s top law enforcement official, and the state’s Republican governor, Susanna Martinez, oppose the opening of a horse slaughter plant, so the state has hardly rolled out the welcome mat for the would-be horse butcherers and traders.
Taking a step back from the legal wrangles in the state and federal courts, I am amazed that the people behind horse slaughter continue to proceed with their thoroughly unpopular gambit, given the impossibly difficult regulatory and social environment they find themselves in. The only explanation for their perseverance must be that they have some financiers willing to bear the costs in their attempt to march healthy horses onto slaughterhouse floors. There’s just no way to view horse slaughtering as a viable business in the current environment, and its future, from a strictly economic perspective, is bleak as bleak can be.
You don’t find too many people seeking to open up whale processing facilities, or cockfighting arenas, on American soil, because any sane investor knows it’s a fool’s errand. There are just too many practical obstacles—legal, political, and social—in the way, even if the proponents had unfailing enthusiasm about the idea of killing whales or fighting roosters. The enterprise depends not only on the enthusiasm of the handful of boosters, but on society’s broader acceptance of the enterprise.
> First, as the operators of proposed slaughter plants in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico have learned, there is major local opposition to their enterprises. They will have to contend with a battery of regulatory challenges, protests, and public criticism if they wish to operate.
> Second, Congress is likely to shut the door on the industry, at least for the coming year. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have language in their 2014 spending bills that forbids USDA from spending any money to inspect the plants, and that means the plants won’t be able to operate. Now that a budget agreement has been reached, Congress is expected to act on that legislation by January 15th. All along, this prospect has been looming, and it defies easy explanation that these slaughter plant operators would go the expense of setting up plants and hiring staff even as Congress acts to put a stop to it all.
> Third, there is a highly uncertain market for their product. While there’s never been any demand in the U.S. for horse meat, the industry has relied on markets overseas, principally in Europe. But demand there has been in decline, and according to Animal People, per capita consumption is more than a pound per year in just four of 28 EU nations. Since the scandal that saw horsemeat mislabeled and sold as beef in several countries, per capita consumption rates has declined further still, due to concerns about food safety and the changing tastes of consumers.
Some big money player is probably backing the horse slaughter plants, and allowing them to make totally irrational business decisions. But it’s an economic dead end. One way or another, Americans won’t let these plants operate, just like we wouldn’t allow dog and cat slaughter plants, whale processing, or cockfighting arenas to operate. We have a great entrepreneurial spirit in America, but we also have core values. Horse slaughter just doesn’t make the cut as a legitimate business in our great country.
Source: The Humane Society of the United States, by Wayne Pacelle
A federal appeals court on Friday removed a temporary ban on domestic horse slaughter, clearing the way for companies in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa to open while an appeal of a lawsuit by animal protection groups proceeds.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver lifted the emergency injunction it issued in November after The Humane Society of the United States and others appealed the ruling of a federal judge in Albuquerque. The judge said the U.S. Department of Agriculture followed proper procedure in issuing permits to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.
The appeals court's order Friday said the groups had "failed to meet their burden for an injunction pending appeal." Click Here to view court ruling.
Blair Dunn, an attorney for Valley Meat and Rains Natural Meats, said the order lifts the emergency status of the case, meaning it will likely be months before a final decision is issued. Dunn said the plants are ready to open, although they could agree to remain shuttered if the plaintiffs agree to post a sufficient bond to cover the companies' losses should they ultimately prevail.
"They are getting ready to go as quickly as they can. It shouldn't take too long. Not more than two weeks," he said. The Humane Society, however, said "the fight for America's horses is not over."
"We will press for a quick resolution of the merits of our claims in the 10th Circuit," said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, the group's senior vice president of animal protection litigation and investigations.
The plants would become the first horse slaughterhouses to operate in the U.S. since 2007. Congress effectively banned horse slaughter by eliminating funding for inspections at the plants in 2006. It restored that funding in 2011, but the USDA did not approve the first permits for horse slaughterhouses until this summer.
The issue has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country's horse overpopulation, and what rescue groups have said are a rising number of neglected and starving horses as the West deals with persistent drought.
Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation were set to begin horse slaughter operations in August, but U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo blocked their plans while she heard the lawsuit by The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue and others. The groups claimed the plants should have been forced to undergo environmental reviews under provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act.
Responsible Transportation abandoned its horse slaughter plans and converted its plant to cattle before Armijo dismissed the lawsuit in November.
Attorneys for the plants have argued that the plaintiffs are simply in court because they are morally opposed to horse slaughter and are looking for a way to delay the plants while they lobby Congress for a ban.
Proponents of a return to domestic horse slaughter point to a 2011 report from the federal Government Accountability Office that shows horse abuse and abandonment have increased since domestic horse slaughter was banned. They say it is better to slaughter the animals in humane, federally regulated facilities than have them abandoned to starve across the drought-stricken West or shipped to inhumane facilities in Mexico.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, calls the practice barbaric and has said blocking a return to domestic horse "is an issue of national importance and scale."
Source: The Associated Press by Jeri Clausing
Help Make Horse Slaughter illegal in the United States! Contact Congress in support of the SAFE Act. Passage of the SAFE Act will not only ensure that predatory horse slaughterers cannot reopen their doors here in the U.S.— it will also stop the trafficking of horses to slaughterhouses across American borders. Click Here to Take Action!
Today the ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors issued an open letter [PDF] in response to recent developments in ongoing litigation brought by several animal welfare organizations to halt horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States. While an emergency injunction in a U.S. Court of Appeals has temporarily stalled horse slaughter plants from opening on American soil, that injunction could be lifted at any moment. The Ambassadors are calling on all animal advocates to take action to stop the inhumane slaughter industry by supporting the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act and promoting responsible horse ownership, rescue and adoption.
The ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors are respected equestrians and horse experts committed to animal welfare—and include several ASPCA Maclay National Champions and journalist and author Jill Rappaport. They are urging Congress to pass the SAFE Act to ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and transport to slaughter outside the U.S. once and for all.
As individuals who revere, care for, and work with horses, they can speak to the importance of humane treatment of these special animals. They have joined with the ASPCA in promoting and supporting the work of the robust network of horse rescue organizations across the country. Having witnessed undercover footage showing repeated cruelties in past American, government-regulated horse slaughter plants, the Ambassadors state in the letter:
We have seen the horrifying video and photo documentation from past horse slaughter plants that were on American soil and government-regulated—horse slaughter is utterly, unmistakably inhumane . . . [C]ommercial slaughter is not about providing a kind death. It’s only about destroying as many horses as quickly as possible and making a fast profit.The letter also acknowledges food safety concerns as another reason to ban horse slaughter.
It goes on to state:
For the roughly 130,000 horses that suffer at the hands of slaughter annually—a fraction of the 9 million horses in America—we have the power to take back the reins and lead at-risk horses to safety. Let’s refuse to allow commercial slaughter to be a convenient way out, and instead demand responsible ownership and promote rescue and adoption, just like we do for dogs and cats.
Read the full letter here [PDF]. Then contact your Members of Congress in support of the SAFE Act.
In response to the emergency motion filed on September 19, 2013, Federal Judge Christina Armijo has suspended Horse Slaughter operations at Rains Natural Meats until October 4, 2013.
Judge Armijo furthered ordered that this matter be referred to the Honorable Robert H.Scott for an evidentiary hearing to determine if her order should be extended beyond October 4th.
Judge Scott will also be ruling on the request from Rains Natural Meats to be included on the bond, which he granted to Valley Meats and Responsible Transportation on August 8, 2013. Our attorneys continue to contest this bond, as this case is against the federal government (USDA) and its permitting process, not the companies that were recently given permission to begin slaughtering horses.
Today our lawyers filed an emergency motion to expand the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against horse slaughter to include Rains Natural Meats located in Gallatin, Missouri.
Rains Natural Meats recently met all the statutory and regulatory requirements and has now demanded that the USDA send inspectors to their facility by as early as September 23rd so they can begin slaughtering horses.
If federal Judge Christina Armijo agrees, the TRO filed today will put an immediate halt to operations at Rains Natural Meats (Missouri). Valley Meat Company (New Mexico) and Responsible Transportation (Iowa) are currently under the TRO granted to us in court on August 2nd.
The backbone of the case is that the USDA hasn’t conducted the requisite NEPA analysis for opening commercial horse slaughter operations. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.
>>> Click Here to View the Emergency Motion
Help Ban Horse Slaughter Nationwide! Contact Congress in support of the SAFE Act. Passage of the SAFE Act will not only ensure that predatory horse slaughterers cannot reopen their doors here in the U.S.— it will also stop the trafficking of horses to slaughterhouses over American borders. >>> Click Here to Take Action!
There will be no horse slaughter for human consumption, and no federal inspection of horse slaughter plants, until at least the end of October. District Judge Christina Armijo in Albuquerque says she will decide by the end of next month whether a New Mexico horse slaughter plant can open.
The attorney representing Valley Meat Co. of Roswell says U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo put the case on an expedited schedule Tuesday.
Attorney Blair Dunn says both sides will file briefs over the next month and Armijo says she'll issue a final ruling by the end of October. Armijo last month issued a restraining order blocking Valley and an Iowa company from proceeding with plans to become the first plants to slaughter horses domestically in more than six years.
But the Humane Society of the United States and other groups sued the Department of Agriculture, contending it failed to do the proper environmental studies before issuing the companies permits.
Help Ban Horse Slaughter Nationwide! Contact Congress in support of the SAFE Act. Passage of the SAFE Act will not only ensure that predatory horse slaughterers cannot reopen their doors here in the U.S.—it will also stop the trafficking of horses to slaughterhouses over American borders. >>> Click Here to Take Action.
Navajo Nation rounds up horses on drought-stricken reservation; those unclaimed will be sold to Mexico to be slaughtered.
Navajo Nation rangers have rounded up numerous horses on the reservation under an operation conducted as part of the tribe’s response to the continuing drought.
A natural resources law enforcement official says least 248 horses were seized through Thursday and that additional horses were seized in operations late last week. The operations were conducted in the Iyanbito, Canyon de Chelly, Pinedale, Chinle, Black Mesa, Ganado and Blue Water Lake areas, the Gallup Independent reported.
The horses seized are said to be either feral or belong to residents who lack grazing permits or have more horses than their permits allow. Grazing official Wilbur Murphy said horses unclaimed by residents will be sold to a buyer either for resale off the reservation or for transport to Mexico for slaughter for meat.
The Navajo Nation has voiced support for a plan by a Roswell company, Valley Meat Co., to begin slaughtering horses for meat. A spokesman for Navajo President Ben Shelly has said the reservation can no longer support the estimated 75,000 feral horses that are drinking wells dry and causing ecological damage to the drought-stricken range.
The Navajo Nation Council has approved $3 million in emergency funds to combat extreme drought conditions on the reservation and nearly $1.4 million in additional funds for feral horse roundups.
Leonard Butler, a tribal Natural Resources law enforcement official, said tribal chapters that approved resolutions to conduct the horse roundups in their communities will be compensated with about $20 per head.
“That’s the incentive for the chapter to pass resolution to participate in the roundup,” Butler said.
Ranger Lorenzo Lapahie said horses that are branded will be kept for three days to give owners time to reclaim the animals by showing a grazing permit and proof of ownership.
Valley Meat’s plan has sparked a national debate about whether horses are livestock or companion animals and how best to deal with the tens of thousands of wild, unwanted and abandoned horses across the country. Horses were slaughtered domestically for decades until Congress cut funding for inspections for horse plants in 2006. That funding was restored in late
Source: The Associated Press
The Obama Administration has said repeatedly that it opposes horse slaughter. But actions speak louder than words. What’s happening now in Nevada suggests that the Administration — through its federal agencies — is actually complicit in sending horses to a slaughter auction.
This notice of a livestock auction — which is frequented by kill buyers
who purchase horses and transport them to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico — tipped us off that the Feds were up to something. 700 horses don’t just appear out of nowhere, so we did some digging.
And we discovered this back room deal between the U.S. Forest Service and
an Indian tribe to spend our tax dollars to capture wild horses and deliver them to the slaughter auction despite the stated opposition of the Administration to horse slaughter.
Under this arrangement, there is no way to distinguish between unbranded horses owned by the tribe from unbranded horses who are wild and protected under federal law.
The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have a legal responsibility under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act to ensure that protected wild horses on federal lands do not end up being slaughtered. In this case, the feds have admitted that horses were herded off public lands (green and light brown above) and due to the close proximity of the capture area to a BLM Herd Management Area, we believe that many of the captured horses are federally protected wild horses.
What they didn’t tell us was that the tribe executed the roundup anyways! Now there are 417 wild horses awaiting their fate at the slaughter auction. Kill buyers are already lining up to purchase these horses and truck them to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico.
>>> Click Here to Read More.
Press Release | August 5, 2013
Bipartisan legislation would prohibit interstate transport of horses in double-decker trailers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have reintroduced the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013, which would prohibit the interstate transportation of horses in double-decker trailers and would create civil penalties for each horse transported.
“Double-decker trailers are designed for cattle and hogs, not horses,” said Senator Menendez. “This legislation would put a much needed end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in trailers with two or more levels stacked on
top of each other, regardless of the purpose. Not only is this type of conveyance cruel, but it also jeopardizes safe roadway conditions for New Jersyans and all of those who travel through our state.”
Six states have banned the use of double-decker trailers for any type of horse transport: Maryland, Massachusetts, New York,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Other states, including Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Virginia have various state laws regulating their use. A uniform federal law is needed to eliminate confusion from a myriad of state laws on horse
In November 7, 2007, the USDA prohibited the transport of horses to slaughter in double deck trailers. The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013 codifies this across the board.
Senators Menendez and Kirk are both Co-Sponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R.1094 and S.541) which will ban the slaughter of horses on U.S. soil. It will also prevent transporting horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.