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The AgriTalk broadcast is done for today, but the conversation continues. AgriTalk host Mike Adams shares his thoughts and opinions on the news of the week and invites your feedback.
Unthinkable for some and long overdue for others, it appears horse processing is about to resume in the U.S. for the first time since Congress ended it in 2007. Valley Meat Co. hopes to open a plant near Roswell, New Mexico by the end of April. Emotions and opinions on horse processing are strong and many as the debate rages on. Opponents can’t stand the idea of their beloved horses going to slaughter like cattle while supporters (including many horse owners) point to large numbers of abandoned and starving horses as proof of the need for processing as a humane end of life option. Even some who previously supported the end of processing now admit the unintended consequences of the ban. Sadly some who oppose the New Mexico plant, supposedly over concerns of treatment of the horses, have resorted to bomb and death threats at the plant site. Evidently they don’t believe in humane treatment for humans. Whether or not this plant opens remains to be seen. FSIS says it needs time to update its inspection process and the recent sequestration battle over meat inspectors may make it hard to add horse inspectors at this time. Still it seems the return to horse processing is more a question of when rather than if. The original ban, no matter how well intended by some, has failed to protect horses and in many cases made things worse. Resumption of processing doesn’t mandate anyone to send their horse to slaughter but it will provide a humane option that should not have been taken away in the first place.
It is fiscally irresponsible to spend our tax dollars this way. The food safety budget was cut with last year's Agricultural appropriations bill so how can the Congress and the USDA, and Oklahoma, justify taking away money from inspecting animals we raise as food, and food we eat, to inspect a meat not raised under food safety guidelines, which we do not eat. If the U.S. should attempt to regulate U.S. horses as food animals, it would require an entire bureaucracy to implement a system to track medical histories to the point of origin for recall purposes. Personally, I want no part in funding such a bureaucracy. Why? The American consumer does not eat horse meat and the majority of horse owners would designate their horses ‘not for slaughter’ if given the opportunity. In addition, there is no guarantee that the foreign entities that are purchasing and eating our toxic horses now will even buy one tomorrow, especially with the new EU regulations going into effect in 2013 and the fraud and deception rampant in the EU with this predatory industry. This money would be better spent actually regulating and ensuring that inspection of our current food products be completed correctly so that outbreaks of listeria, e coli, salmonella, etc do not occur.
In the US we are supposed to have strict guidelines under which our food animals must be raised. Our horses are not, nor have they ever been, raised as food animals in this country. As a result, those food safety guidelines have never applied to our horses. In the course of regular care, we Americans often give our horses substances which are banned by the FDA, CFIA and EUFSA from use in ANY animal intended for human consumption at any time in its life. Currently CFIA does not even test for BUTE. The FDA classifies horses as companion animals not as an agricultural product. Because our horses are not raised as food animals, there can be no ‘lot’ or ‘batch’ (indicating something of the same) testing for residues to obtain a reasonable confidence that the meat would be safe to eat. Throughout a horses life it may change owners multiple times! They often don’t remain with the original owners, aren’t kept under the same conditions, aren’t given the same feed, aren’t medically treated the same way, and the majority of owners have no idea what is or isn’t allowed in animals used as food animals, because we don’t raise them as food animals. The only thing the ‘same’ about our horses is that they are horses. Since U.S. horses can’t be labeled as the ‘same’ they could not be lot or batch tested for chemical residues. Each and every U.S. horse would have to be individually tested for chemical residues. That would cost a lot of tax payer dollars for a product we do not eat or want.
If these bills go into law,It will put every horse in this country in jeopardy as kill buyers do not care who they steal their inventory from or how far they ship them under inhumane and cruel conditions. The Oklahoma legislators rammed them down the throats of Oklahoma citizens who clearly, overwhelmingly, oppose them, poll after poll..including the one you have on your site that gets re-set every few hours.
If the goal is really to help horse in need, and not to just have a place to dump excess breeding stock,there are other options to handle horses whose owners find themselves in financial straits and those options are being expanded all over the country. It is time the gov’t and the breed registries get behind these options. Horse care education programs, hay banks, shelter in place programs, retraining options, low cost gelding clinics, humane euthanasia by a qualified veterinarian,and horse “havens” are just a few of the creative solutions caring horse owners across the country have been putting in place to help. The most beneficial would be responsible breeding practices and education, so that people who have no clue what they are getting themselves into when getting a horse can be educated on how to care for them properly.