Thursday, December 1, 2011

American horse-slaughter industry back in business

President Obama was quiet as a church mouse as he signed into law a spending bill that restores the American horse-slaughter industry.
The ban that has been in place didn’t end horse slaughter, but instead moved the slaughter to Mexico and Canada.

Back in 2006 the ban had been imposed when Congress defunded the government’s ability to inspect plants that butchered horses for consumption.
Without those inspections, the meat couldn’t be sold, and the industry basically ended.
But the spending bill President Obama has just signed ends the prohibition on inspections, and the if anyone wants to open a horse-slaughter plant, they will have their inspections.

“While we have a long way to go, responsible processing represents a vital first step in reversing the unintended consequences to blame for the dismal state of neglected horses and their frustrated caregivers across our country,” said Rep. Adrian Smith, a Nebraska Republican who wanted the change. “Reinstating a humane, accountable and legal management tool is good for horses, good for owners and is good policy.”

A June report by the Government Accountability Office, said thlee was an increase in reports of neglect or abuse as owners of older horses had no way of disposing of them, short of selling them to “foreign slaughtering facilities where U.S. humane slaughtering protections do not apply.”

The move got a nod of approval from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said it had always been worried about the way Congress went about its initial ban. PETA said it predicted that horses would be shipped to foreign slaughterhouses.

Horse meat is regularly used for consumption by circuses and zoos, and it is now sent to countries in the Eastern Hemisphere where it is an accepted food.

A bill to ban horse slaughter and export of horses for slaughter has been introduced in the House and Senate, and the Humane Society of the United States said it would redouble its efforts to try to enact that legislation.
In the meantime, the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said there are no horse slaughterhouses operating in the U.S. that produce meat for human consumption, but the agency would be ready for inspections if a facility opens.
Another factor is that many states have laws banning horse slaughter.
Michael Markarian, who oversees the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which lobbies for animal protections, said any state that allows a horse-slaughter plant to open will face pressure.
“People will not be happy about their community potentially bringing in one of these plants,” he said. “Americans don’t eat horses, and don’t want them butchered and shrink-wrapped and sent to France or Japan as a delicacy.”

In 2010, about 138,000 horses were exported for slaughter, and another 30,000 horses were shipped for other purposes, though some of those likely were sent to feedlots to be fattened for slaughter.