The treatment of horses transported overseas for slaughter and human consumption is at the heart of a two-day Federal Court trial which kicked off in Vancouver Wednesday. The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition claims the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is not following rules that require horses to be segregated and given ample head room during long-haul overseas flight to Japan.
The coalition is seeking a judicial review of the agency's pre-flight inspection practices along with an order that would compel the CFIA to comply with the Health of Animals Regulations in approving horse transport.
"To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that an animal protection organization has challenged the Canadian federal government over the transportation of animals in Canada," coalition lawyer Rebeka Breder said in her opening statement. "This case, in my submission, can have significant implications on future government decisions and the CFIA specifically, where their ongoing practice or policy is in direct contravention to existing law."
Compatibility of animals in question
The coalition filed the suit last year, claiming the inspection agency is following the guidelines of an interim policy introduced in 2017, instead of the sections of the Health of Animals Regulations which govern the transport of horses.
CFIA inspector-veterinarians have to ensure that all legal requirements are met before the horses can be shipped off to Asia. But Breder says the agency is side-stepping the regulations by claiming horses don't need to be segregated if they are "compatible" animals and that a horse's head or ears can touch the cargo netting above its head during air transport.
In its defence, the CFIA rejects the coalition's allegations. The agency also claims that new rules set to kick in next year make the case "moot." "The CFIA's role, on the facts of this case, is to determine whether the horses are healthy for export and are being safely transported," the agency said in a filing with the court. "There is no requirement on the CFIA to obtain a particular enforcement result, and it is well recognized that perfection in enforcement can never be more than an unattainable goal.
No agency above the law
Breder said the animals in question are mostly large Belgian draft horses, and they require room. "We're not talking about little ponies," she said. "We're talking about big strong animals." She also claimed that while draft horses may appear compatible with each other before being shipped overseas, they may become incompatible under the stress of a long flight.
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition is dedicated to banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption in Canada and the export of live horses for the same purpose. But Breder said their aim in the Federal Court case is limited to ensuring that the horses are transported humanely.
"No government agency is above the law," coalition executive director Sinnika Crosland said outside the courtroom. Crosland said her group doesn't want to see horses "crammed" into crates. "If they're going to ship them, they should put them singly in a crate," she said. "What they would need to do is make the crates high enough so the horses' heads aren't touching the ceiling, so they can comfortably raise their heads and not bang their heads or their ears up against the ceiling."
Source: CBC News
The 10 Years to AML: Path Forward for Management of BLM's Wild Horses and Burros is an agenda of the livestock industry, which aims to eradicate wild horses from America's public lands.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $35 million last week for the program supported by an unprecedented alliance including the Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation.
They say it would eliminate the threat of slaughter for thousands of free-roaming horses and shrink the size of herds primarily through expanded fertility controls on the range. Critics say it drops long-held opposition to the capture of mustangs across 10 western states and could allow for sterilization of mares — a hot-button issue with horse protection advocates historically.
They had sought a $50 million increase in the BLM’s $80 million annual horse budget, arguing any boost in spending on contraception and other population controls ultimately will save money as herds shrink.
“This is a historic moment for our herds, containing the strongest language protecting wild horses and burros we have ever seen in an annual appropriations bill,” Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Friday. He said it increases “commitments to protect these animals from killing or sale to slaughter.”
BLM estimated 88,000 wild horses and burros are roaming public rangelands, more than three times what the agency says the land can support. Another 50,000 that have been removed from the range in recent years were in holding facilities at an annual cost of about $50 million.
Horse advocates have argued the animals must be permitted to roam the range in federally protected management areas established under the Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. They say BLM’s population quotas are often outdated and lack scientific data to support roundups to cull herd sizes.
Ginger Kathrens, director of The Cloud Foundation based in Colorado, said the new initiative dubbed the “Path Forward” should be called the “path to extinction.” She said it sets population targets to less than 27,000 — the total when federal protections first were enacted nearly a half-century ago. “The extinction-level number is what caused Congress to unanimously pass the Wild Horse and Burro Act,” she said.
Source: Time Magazine
The conditions for breeding and slaughtering horses in Uruguay, Argentina and Canada, from which a large part of the horse meat marketed in supermarkets in Europe, are denounced Wednesday in videos broadcast by German, Swiss NGOs and French.
Agonizing horses, foals dead from cold on the ground at a Bouvry-Export company center near Calgary, "the biggest horse slaughterhouse in Canada", are shown in a video relayed in France by the Welfarm Association of protection of farm animals, which castigates in a statement "the true face of horse meat".
The images filmed in January and February 2019, showing animals trembling, sick, lying on frozen ground, were filmed by the Swiss associations Tierschutzbund Zurich and German Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF).
In Uruguay and Argentina, the images show lean animals, or parked in thousands without care in front of slaughterhouses.
The Americas is the world's leading producer of equine meat. Of the approximately 4.8 million equines slaughtered worldwide in 2012, 41% were in North America, 11% in South America, 11% in Central America and only 8% in Europe (24% in Asia, 2% in Oceania and 3% in Africa), according to FAO statistics.
In France, where 10,200 equines were slaughtered in 2017, or 2800 tons carcass equivalent, the consumption of horse meat is very marginal. It represents only 0.2% of the quantities of meat that are bought by households in 2018, according to the statistics of the interprofessional meat Interbev.
Nevertheless, according to Welfarm, in 2018 France imported more than 4,300 tons of horse meat from the three countries mentioned in the NGO survey (Argentina, Uruguay, Canada), and 77% of the horse meat sold in hypermarkets came from that country.
Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Bouvry-Export said his company was "strictly controlled by the Canadian health inspection agency."
"Everyone can come to see for themselves," said the spokesperson on condition of anonymity, saying that "activism is out of control at the moment, that's all." that I can say.
On Wednesday morning, the French horse meat import companies such as SNVC (Normandy meat and brokerage company) that imports meat from Uruguay, or Equus, which imports directly from Bouvry-Export in Canada, were unreachable.
New investigations from Winter 2019 show that cruel conditions remain unchanged, at US auctions and in Canadian feedlots, as well as during transport and at the Bouvry slaughterhouse in Alberta.
HELP PROTECT AMERICAN HORSES
Every year, tens of thousands of horses from USA are live-exported to Canada and Mexico for the sole purpose of being slaughtered for human consumption overseas. If passed into federal law, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would prohibit slaughtering American equines on U.S. soil or abroad. Help pass The SAFE Act by contacting your member of Congress >>
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