Updated on 06/19/2012 4:54PM

Bill would deny funds for inspectors at U.S. horse slaughter facilities


LEXINGTON, Ky. – In a move that could prevent equine slaughterhouses from reopening in the U.S. in the near term, the House Appropriations Committee has voted once again to deny funding for federal inspectors at horse slaughter facilities.

In a voice vote Wednesday, the committee adopted Virginia Representative Jim Moran’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill. Moran’s amendment prohibits funding for the inspectors. The bill will now go to the House floor for a vote.

Legal U.S. horse slaughter ended in 2007, when plants in Texas and Illinois closed due to legal action and a state ban, respectively. Congress first denied funds for USDA inspections in 2008.

Moran introduced similar language in the Fiscal Year 2012 Agricultural Appropriations Bill, but although the language was adopted in the House’s version, it was removed in conference committee last November. That opened the door to horse slaughter within U.S. borders after a five-year effective end to the practice.

Earlier this month, Unified Equine announced plans to open a horse slaughterhouse in a retrofitted beef processing plant in Rockville, Mo., after residents of Mountain Grove, Mo., strongly rejected the plan. Unified Equine abandoned the plan, citing feasibility issues and expense. According to the Kansas City Star, the plant had planned to buy healthy, mature horses to be slaughtered for markets in China, Mexico, and Europe, as well as for some smaller horsemeat markets in the U.S. The company said it planned to employ about 50 people.

Valley Meat Co. also applied earlier this year to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for federal inspection to allow it to slaughter horses for meat export. That would have opened a horse slaughter plant in Roswell, N.M.

In a study released last June, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that nearly 138,000 U.S. horses – or roughly the same number as were slaughtered domestically in the year before the practice ceased in 2007 – shipped to slaughter in Canada and Mexico in 2010.

In May, Canadian slaughterhouse operator Viande Richelieu said it would no longer accept Thoroughbreds at its two Canadian facilities. That move followed an investigation by Ohio racing officials that resulted in the highly unusual return of two slaughter-bound racehorses, Canuki and Cactus Cafe. Ohio’s Beulah Park has an anti-slaughter policy. Viande Richelieu, which operates two of Canada’s four equine slaughterhouses, cited the expense and effort of returning the horses as part of its decision.

Barbara Tally More than 1 year ago
I'm not a religious nut but... Proverbs 12:10 "A rightous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel." Proverbs 24:11 "rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter." Still gonna do my part to stop this robin. Any way I can. Supporting organizations who are trying is better than doing nothing. Would you like a copy of the book by Heller; I have more copies to send out.
Diana Bodensteiner More than 1 year ago
Good move by the appropriations committee. The USDA refuses to back the kill buyer claims that the horses presented to Canada for slaughter have never had a dose of bute. EU has tested meat from American horses and found drug residues from prohibited substances. We don't want the USDA sending ineligible meat to EU and getting caught. That would ruin the reputation for the rest of our ag products. In another 12 months none of our horses will be eligible for EU horse meat anyway. When EU final rules go into effect July 2013 all imported horse meat will have to come from horses that were raised in an EU approved program that tracks the horses and his drug history from birth. Some of the smaller horse meat importers may buy ours for a while, until they realize they are eating horse meat not fit to be eaten in the EU.
Barbara Tally More than 1 year ago
AND ANOTHER THING... The problem not only lies with breeders, its also a problem with the tracks. Horses that perform @ sub-par or are considered too old to race, don't win enough are prime candidates for slaughter. The high number of injury or death at tracks is the result of "packing/rolling" track surfaces to created inflated pace/speed figures. We have watched too many break down when in reality there wasn't a need for this to happen. This sport has a very dark and clandestine side that can be Corrected if people care enough to make the problems at American tracks an issue. Same with Slaughter. Does anybody have enough empathy to WRITE to legislators in thier state or to track stewards and racing commisioners? I HAVE. I also suppot The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation through contributions and by God I'm on a FIXED income. If I can do it so can you. So to sit at your flippin'n computer and kavetch one way OR another dosen't cut it.
Suzanne Moore More than 1 year ago
You are so right! There are several free fax services on the Web. You can even fax documentation for what you tell them. I and some friends faxed the ENTIRE membership of the House Appropriations Committee urging the to support the Moran Amendment. The bill will pass the House - it passed the House last year. The Senate and Conference Committees are up next! I lived in Dallas - right between the two Texas plants - for 15 nightmarish years. My own horse escaped being stolen by a hair's breadth, but several of my friends were not so fortunate. I will do whatever it takes to prevent this horror from coming back.
Morris More than 1 year ago
just this last week, i was at a 4-h horse event, while sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up, having a good horse conversation, with the high sheriff, (who is a avid horseman & his children quilify for the world paint horse show, every year), i was allowed to over hear a conversation he had with a complaining lady. she was demanding that he go arrest, a young man because his horses were not fat enough to suit her. now this young man he didnt really want these horses, because they had belonged to his grandpa & daddy, whom had both recently passed. he had just inherted the farm, with the horses on it. he & i gelded all the studs in the winter of 09. i hauled 12 head to auction for him in the fall of 2010, they were 8&9 year old barron brood mares. i turned around & hauled them home, after the sale because they were all marked NO BID. the boyy has had a run with several bleeding heart groups who didnt want to help him, all they wanted to do was tell him what he should do. never mind the fact that he had no money. on the advise of the bleeding heart group, he had removed the barb wire from the fences. wrong thing to do . this lady was complaining because with slick wire the hungry horses were pushing through & eating on the side of the county road. opon hearing the ladys demand. I WANT HIM ARRESTED. the sheriff turned a very red color in the face, gritted his teeth & turned to the lady , in a soft & polite way he replyed to the complainent. " lady, i dont think i am going to do that. because if i arrest him, i will have to take the horses too. the country is all ready feeding way more horses than it should be. besides that if i arrest him , he will spend his grocery money for bail. then next month ill have to arrest him again, for not providing for his family. & then i will have to feed his family also. i think i will just go help him repair his fence , instead." after its all said & done slaughter is the most humane poilicy. its hard to see or understand that. when you are looking out the window of a penthouse & living in a concrete jungle. the whole thing in a nut shell is there too many horses. the lack of a slaughter market is what has created this terrible situation. you see i love horses also. over 60 percent of what i have accumilated in this world came from the horse industry. my retirement was based on a healthy horse market. ( you think i didnt take a hit). the fact remains we dont live in a perfect world, horse slaughter is a nessasary evil, that we have lived with for generations. what happens without it.? look around. hungry & abused horses. "an ole railbird"
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Morris, yours is a sobering tale: but so true, and I wish there were more people who understood what you're saying. Judging by the paucity of comments, compared to other more appealing stories, nobody wants to confront this issue, which says it all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What paucity of comments? You better come back. There are plenty of comments addressing this situation squarely on the head - including mine. What says it all is that there is no "lack of slaughter," and hasn't been for 30 years! If it hasn't solved any problems so far, it's not going to. As anyone could see if they wanted to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excuse me, "Morris," but I'll bet I've heard this very same story - with a few variations - at least a hundred times since the domestic slaughter plants closed. Now, how can you blame "the lack of a slaughter market" when in fact, we are sending MORE horses to slaughter now than we did when the domestic plants were open? There is NO "lack of slaughter," and there never has been for something like 30 years now. We always sent hundreds of thousands of horses to slaughter in Mexico and Canada, so now we send all of them there. The kill buyers are still at the auctions just like always, and in fact, that won't change even if we DO get the Moran Amendment back on the books. Things will be just like now - no domestic plants but Mexico and Canada will STILL be there - at least for a while. Slaughter is market driven - we are already slaughtering as many horses as the market will bear. We couldn't sell any more if there were slaughter plants in every corner in the US. Did you somehow miss the fact that we are in a recession that's so bad it's been compared to the Great Depression? The bottom has dropped out from under everything. Why would you expect the horse market to be any different from all the other markets? THAT'S what happened to the price of horses. The kill buyers are still there. You say those horses didn't get a bid at the auction? That was the KILLERS that failed to bid on those sick, skinny horses, for crying out loud. Human consumption horse slaughter plants no matter where they are will NOT accept sick, old, lame, injured, skinny horses. Never have, never will. The killers aren't going to bid on horses they know the slaughter plants are going to reject. Are you getting my point? As for the rest of your "story," I don't know who your friend talked to, but obviously they weren't the right people. There is lots of help out there - yeah, you may have to ask around a bit, equine or large animal vets, your county extension office, the PHONE BOOK. It IS there. I'd have thought your Equestrian sheriff would have known about some... They were right about barbed wire and horses. If your friend had just electrified a wire or two those horses would have stayed FAR away from that fence. I'd suggest he and the sheriff do that this time. As I posted earlier, I and my horses lived in Dallas right between the two Texas slaughter plants. Believe me, there is NOTHING humane about horse slaughter. In fact, there is NO humane way to slaughter horses. They are as different from food animals as it's possible to be. Horses are high-strung, panic prone prey animals - creatures of flight. If they can't run, the immediately panic, raising their long, flexible, upright necks and throwing their heads around wildly. Not only is this dangerous for all concerned, it makes the proper use of the captive-bolt pistol impossible. The captive bolt was designed for cattle, and it's totally unsuitable for horses. The mandatory head restraints used on cattle cannot be used on horses. The mandatory ONE shot is rarely enough to fully stun a horse. Even 3, 4 or more shots often don't do it and the horses come to while strung up being "bled out." This is NOT fiction. Not only did I see it myself in Kaufman, TX, but there are verified videos all over YouTube that tell it like it is. So, IF your friend got a no bid that means the killers don't want those horses. Forgive my skepticism, but I would think an "old rail bird" would know that slaughter is still as available as ever and that the number of horses we've sent to slaughter is actually us significantly from last year, and last year was up from the year before. If slaughter were the answer for over population, we wouldn't be seeing over population now would we? Actually, slaughter is the CAUSE. The big breed orgs like the ASPCA and Jockey Club have come to depend on slaughter so they can over breed to their heart's content, and get paid for dumping their unfortunate "culls." The same for irresponsible owners. If everyone KNEW they had to take the responsibility for their animals themselves, they might be more careful. Now, I don't know what your friend's REAL story is - if you even HAVE such a friend, but, as I said, there is a lot of help out there these days because of the recession. Just look for it a little bit. Surely the sheriff can help. One more thing. I have NEVER lived in a penthouse or a concrete jungle, not even in Dallas. I come from a lower middle class family and wasn't able to get my first horse until I was 33 years old. Even so, I was single, and it took all my discretionary income - and then some - but that didn't bother me at all. That was 35 years ago. I married and, after my horse came so close to getting stolen in Dallas, I couldn't stand it any more and now live in my husband's native Indiana. Worked out great, because I don't have to board my horses any more. They're right here at home with me.
Morris More than 1 year ago
less goverment, rail the the mulitudes. EXCEPT we gonna create a whole bereaucracy, THE HORSE POLICE. theywill go around telling horse farms, how many mares they can breed, each year. what will the penilty be , for a violation? death to the culprates? come ride around the country side with me. i will venture to say ,that in 1/2 of a work day (4 hours) i can show you 100 head of un wanted horses. they are getting fewer by the day though. their dieing of a few at a time. some of the deer hunters are shooting them, to keep them out of their game feeders. now i ask you . is this better than slaughter?? when every single old person & the mentally impared have adequate houseing & care. then & only then should we think that we are well enough off, that we can provide heaith care for livestock. i really dont want to believe that the usa is a country that would take better care of their aging horses than they do of their eldery & mentally impared. but we are headed that way. if you dont believe it, just read the comments on this blog. have a nice day knowing that a 30 year old horse has health care. but 80 year old citizens dont. "an ole railbird " said it .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Morris - See my answer to your first story. As for this one, if you and others keep over breeding for the AVAILABLE MARKET, how the h$%l do you expect but horses you can't sell? You need a short course in economics. And, as a taxpayer, I will not see my taxes spent funding inspections of slaughter plants so you can do as you d$#n well please. You want the govt. out? Well, just wait until you see what hoops you're going to have to jump through if we want to keep selling horse meat. The European Union is THE horse meat market, and they know our horses are not food animals here and that many of their medications and other products contain substances that are BANNED from ANY use in ANY food animal at ANY time during their entire life. ONE exposure to a banned substance and that animal must be banned from the human food chain for LIFE. They're tired of getting our tainted horse meat, so after July 1, 2013, they will no longer accept our horses unless we have implemented a passport system comparable to the one they use for horses. Check it out: https://www.box.com/s/c26dc21083d75ce42223 This is the system used for horses in the UK, and ours would be very similar. You'll have to do this for EVERY horse, whether you plan to sell for slaughter or not. Unfortunately, all of us who would NEVER sell our horses for slaughter will have to cope with this mess too - Not to mention having our tax money go to pay for it - thanks to you who think slaughter is a viable alternative to taking responsibility, even for animals you happen to inherit. There IS euthanasia - and it's NOT slaughter! You do have to pay for this instead of getting paid, but that;s the breaks, right?
Barbara Tally More than 1 year ago
Dear Anon; Bless you... you see the light! The U.S. sent 138,000 horses to slaughter in Mexico and Canada in 2010. Also everybody in the world of racing is talking banning Salix / lasix. Gee... clean horses, clean meat! I also want to put out there to anybody with artistic talent with an equine bent that The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is holding an Art auction (weekend of July 27-28) to raise funding for thier organization. I'm sending a piece up for Auction. Went to Cazenovia College for Illustration. Thinking of sending Barbaro. Its a big weekend up there with the Jim Dandy Stakes w/ the possibility of Rags running. Going up to Saratoga that weekend myself. SO if there's anybody who is artistic and wants the exposure now is the time to help in a great way. Check out thier web site. Once again Anonymous, A BIG THANK YOU for setting the record straight! XO
Thomas s More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't say the industry is growing. Most tracks are anti slaughter. Retirement farms exist with funding initiatives. We retrain a couple a year for show, pleasure or polo. 30,000 foals sounds high, but not out of line. The industry is ruled by trainers, breeders and owners. They are frequently silent on this subject...along with any other topic of importance in their business. Recent trip to a track to buy an off the tracker to retrain got us a horse...within the hour, other trainers were offering us their horses too....could've gone home with a herd.
Peyton Lasiter More than 1 year ago
What are the viable, realistic alternatives to slaughter? I don't know much about this issue other than it makes me sad to think they are slaughtered. How many race horses are bred and sold in the US each year? I am guessing the average race time for one is about 5 years, but the average life span is probably 10? Seems there would be an excess of them building up that would need care until natural death. Who is willing and able to provide that? Why not limit the number that can be born each year? I am just wondering. Not trying to suggest any solutions.
Natalia Olave More than 1 year ago
Horses live a lot longer than ten years of age. They can easily live into their late twenties, even early thirties. I do agree with you that there should be a limit to how many thoroughbreds can be born each year. There are too many horses and they really need to stop pumping out 30,000 foals each year.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Peyton, you talk a lot of sense. Some people are so out of touch with reality that they think a vacuum packed prime rib on the shelves of their local super-market comes from a celestial source that is free from anything remotely unsavoury. Dream on. As you say, there are far too many horses in circulation and far too many bad ones. The current situation is untennable...so a reduction has to be made. And, short of taking them out to the back 40 and putting a bullet in their heads (which is happening all too frequently these days) an organised and humane reduction (slaughter) is a much better and kinder idea. What would you rather do...leave them out on abandoned farms to die of starvation?
Grazyna Mianska More than 1 year ago
Very well put.
Barbara Tally More than 1 year ago
Why don't people put thier money where thier mouth is by supporting established foundations such as Old Friends and the Thoroughbred Retirement foundation??? how much money do you guys spend at OTB or at the track? If you took a small percentage of your wins and GAVE BACK for the health and welfare of the sport you support then things could improve and more would be saved, retrained, and adopted. I'm sick out people saying slaughter is HUMANE. Read Bill Heller's book "After the Finishline: the race to end horse slaughter in America." It will make you absolutely SICK. and to MORRIS: your spelling is as bad as your argument!
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Barbara, I wish it was that simple. The trouble is that there are just too many horses and not enough people with spare money available to keep them. And, like pet adoption, what seems like a good idea at the outset, can often become a disaster, when inexperienced people find out what owning a horse entails.
Zakk W. More than 1 year ago
They should send House Appropriations Committee to the slaughter house! Bastards!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The slaughter option is STILL here - just as it has been for the last 30 years for God's sake!!!!! Even if the Amendment passes both Houses of Congress, all it will mean is that no one can build horse slaughter plants on US soil! You can still send your horses off with the same kill buyers, and they will take them to Mexico or Canada as they have also been doing for the last 30 years. Until the European Union - the only real market for horse meat - shuts us down because our horses are not food animals and their products contain banned substances. Unless of course the USDA implements millions of tax dollars worth of tracking system and saddles horse owners with paperwork coming out their ears. See my earlier posts. Oh, yeah - several major Canadian plants are not going to accept any more Thoroughbreds, starting NOW. Sorry. God! Either you people aren't nearly as bright as your horses or you are pro-slaughter trolls. You HAVE to know that slaughter never went away! Whatever. Good-BYE!
Suzanne Moore More than 1 year ago
Don't know how I got to be Anonymous all of a sudden. Oh well....
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Check the Jockey Club Foal Paper App for 'retirement plans?'.