Thursday, April 4, 2013

Horsing Around

The phrase “horsing around” typically has fun and laughter associated with it, but this type of horsing around
is sobering:  our nation is on the verge of reinstating killing horses to be used as food, a practice Congress did away with in 2007, but lapsed in 2011. Now companies countrywide are gearing up to re-engage slaughtering horses for food—a topic of heated controversy.

Many animal rights organizations say that legalizing the killing of horses for meat is cruel and could result in unsafe meat.  Those who support the practice cite that horses are consumed worldwide anyway and that it would prove highly profitable for American companies to join in—with current plans only to export the horse meat processed here in the States.

Interestingly, the first horse slaughterhouse to re-open in the U.S. may be the Valley Meat Company, located just outside of Roswell, New Mexico—the same Roswell well known for “other” strange incidents. Speaking of strange incidents. . . Valley Meat Company attorney, A. Blair Dunn, reports that the future horse farm has had multiple break-ins recently as well as a bomb threat and death threats.

Despite those occurrences, Valley Meat Company, once a cattle farm, looks to be the first farm in our country to start slaughtering horses for human consumption. They’re not alone, either. Plants in Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma are also making preparations, while across the country companies are applying for permits with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to get back on the horse meat production bandwagon.

It appears that the USDA is doing some doublespeak on the subject, too. The USDA seems to want the horse-killing ban reinstated; however, if it’s not reinstated, then they will be instrumental in helping the horse farms and slaughterhouses become operational. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “We’re very close to getting the work done that’s needed to be done to allow them to operate.” Meanwhile, another USDA official believes that the steps to get these horse farms and slaughtering facilities operation will take significantly more time due to testing and inspections processes.

The bottom line is, however, that these horse farms and slaughterhouses are on track to become operational. The same official who hinted at a delay said that once the companies complete “necessary technical requirements” and when the USDA agency completes inspector training, then “the department will legally have no choice but to go forward with inspections.”

And that’s just what Valley Meat Company is planning for. Once they’re operational, they hope to process 100 horses a day—with a net gain of approximately $200 to $250 per horse, says Valley Meat’s attorney Dunn.

In the meantime, bi-partisan federal lawmakers are working on legislation to reinstate the ban on killing horses for food—legislation that would also prohibit U.S. companies from slaughtering horses in the States and then exporting them for consumption.

This legislation isn't looking too promising, however, since individual states in our country, such as Oklahoma, are taking matters into their own hands to end the ban on horse slaughter for meat and to sell it in other countries.

That’s an awful lot of “horsing around.” Read more about it by clicking here.