Horse slaughter increases

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jan 31, 2005
by WLJ
— Legislation banning practice to be proposed.
New figures from USDA reveal an increase in the number of horses slaughtered in the U.S. last year for human consumption. Nearly 65,000 horses were slaughtered in 2004, 28 percent more than 2003.
However, those horses aren’t processed for domestic U.S. consumption. The horses are slaughtered at one of three foreign-owned slaughter plants, and the meat is sent to Europe and Asia, where it is considered a delicacy.
Because a large majority of the horses processed are competitive racehorses in the public spotlight and pets, several animal rights groups are stepping up their efforts to have the practice made illegal, including through congressional action.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA), sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. John E. Sweeney, R-NY, received the support of more than half the House’s members last year, but stalled out in the Agriculture Committee. A similar bill introduced in the Senate, by Sen. John Ensign, R-NV, was also popular with lawmakers, but did not progress sufficiently. There are indications AHSPA will be reintroduced in the 109th Congress before the end of February.
The proposed law also would prevent the slaughter of wild horses. That would combat a rider amendment in the 2005 omnibus spending bill instructing the federal government to send thousands of wild horses to auction, where they are likely to be bought for slaughter. Under that amendment, introduced by Sen. Conrad Burns, R-MT, wild horses would be put up for adoption three separate times, and if a particular animal isn’t adopted after the third time, auctioning off the animal is the next option.
Western ranching interests called the Burns legislation appropriate because wild horses don’t stay within fenced areas of federal land very well and once they get out they infringe on private ranch lands and utilize a lot of the forage set aside for cattle, sheep and other livestock. — WLJ