Iowa Facility Is Second to Win Approval to Slaughter Horses

July 3, 2013 04:01 AM
Iowa Facility Is Second to Win Approval to Slaughter Horses

July 2 (Bloomberg) -- An Iowa facility has been cleared to slaughter horses for human consumption, the second such operation approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a week.

The agency said it was forced to act under the law when the company, Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, met all the requirements to be inspected. A facility near Roswell, New Mexico, was granted approval on June 28, clearing the way for the first slaughtering of horses for meat in the U.S. since 2007.

Separately, a group of animal-welfare advocates has sued the USDA seeking to keep the plants from opening.

Unless Congress renews a ban that expired in 2011, the USDA is required to issue a grant of inspection and provide inspectors that would enable the facilities to operate, agency spokeswoman Michelle Saghafi said in an e-mail.

The Obama administration "has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter," she said. "Until Congress acts, the Department must continue to comply with current law."

Horse slaughter is an emotional issue among animal-welfare advocates in the U.S., where eating of horse meat is rare and surveys show most Americans oppose the practice. Many farmers and ranchers say humane slaughter is necessary to dispose of unwanted animals.


Last Plant

The last U.S. horse-meat plant closed six years ago after Congress banned funding for inspections for such facilities. That ban lapsed in 2011 and measures to renew it are before lawmakers.

Along with the New Mexico and Iowa plants, a third application, from a company in Gallatin, Missouri, is pending.

Responsible Transportation didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment. On its website, the company says its mission "is to improve the quality of life of the unwanted horse population," by following professionally supervised, government-regulated euthanasia processes and allowing horses not to be transported outside the U.S. for slaughter.

"We believe it is our responsibility to restore the value of the horse industry. In doing so, the quality of life for the entire population of horses within the United States will improve," the company said.


Lawsuit Filed

The animal-welfare groups, which include the Humane Society of the United States, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

"Horse slaughter plants pollute local water bodies with blood and offal, permeate the air with a foul stench, diminish property values and put horses through misery," Jonathan Lovvorn, chief counsel for aminal protection litigation at the Washington-based Humane Society, said in a statement.

The case is Front Range Equine Rescue v. Vilsack, 13- cv-3034, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).


--Editors: Jon Morgan, Michael Shepard


To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at


To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at


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Spell Check

7/4/2013 08:40 PM

  The same people who are against putting old horses out of their misery and making them into meat, those are the same people who are for abortion and want to put grandma to sleep the minute she becomes a financial burden. you see they want everything to LOOK nice, and if grandma doesn't look nice...., on the other hand they want to FEEL good, which means they want to "save the horses" because horses are noble creatures, Whoa unto them.

7/19/2013 07:17 AM

  Horse slaughter is a highly expensive proposition for taxpayers. Each plant will cost taxpayers $400,000.00, according to this press release. This issue crosses all party lines. Voters and politicians from all sides of the isle are against horse slaughter for a laundry list of reasons. Here is the press release: "According to the USDA, each horse slaughter facility...would cost U.S. taxpayers over $400,000 per year in operation costs." This is the worst economy since the Great Depression. In addition to the cost of the USDA inspecting plants, at a price tag of $400,000.00 per plant to U.S. taxpayers, the meat will not even be eaten in the U.S. Why should we, as American taxpayers, pay for these inspections? Additionally, we have to factor in the taxpayer expense of police officers who will likely be taking more reports on horse theft and making more investigations into horse theft. As a horse owner, the thought of horse theft and stolen horses ending up at slaughter concerns me greatly. I would hope that it would concern you, too. Many people think of their horses as family members.

7/19/2013 07:18 AM

  I am also against the USDA opening up inspections for the proposed horse slaughter plants in the United States because horses in the U.S. are not raised for human consumption. As a grower of corn, wheat and soybeans, having the USDA inspect horse slaughter plants concerns me as well. They are our friends and companions (at least they are my friends and companions), and as such horses are treated with drugs like cats and dogs to a wide variety of vaccinations, bacterins, topical and oral treatments that are not approved for human consumption. We use gloves with topical treatments, because we don't want equine drugs touching our skin, let alone consuming them. It's not economical to raise horses for slaughter in the U.S., because it takes more money to raise a foal to maturity than the horse meat market is willing to pay. It's an economical losing proposition. Therefore, the USDA has no business inspecting a horse slaughter plant that by default will be receiving horses that are not fit for human consumption. The horses they will be receiving have not been raised drug-free for human consumption. As a grower of corn, wheat and soybeans, the USDA's reputation directly affects many. The European Union, which is where most of the horse meat would go, has a zero tolerance for Bute (Phenylbutazone) , which is routinely given to horses in the U.S. It is estimated that 90% of horses in the U.S. have been treated with this drug, not to mention all of the other drugs. There is no good way to test for all of these drugs on every horse destined for slaughter, which would need to be done, since they are not raised for human consumption in the U.S. Many tests would need to be run on each horse, and there is no way to do this in a timely fashion, especially given that the tests have to be run after the horse is dead, and that autopsies need to be performed within 24 hours. The owners of the proposed Gallatin, Missouri horse slaughter plant say they will have the University of Missouri test each horse. That would mean dead body parts would need to be shipped from Gallatin to Columbia, and the University of Missouri does not perform testing on the weekends. Most of the horses destined for slaughter are young or middle-aged, and in the prime of their lives. Two that have been rescued from slaughter have gone on and are now showing at the Morgan Grand National level. I would like to send you information on what New Jersey has done regarding horse slaughter in the hopes that you will take note: "The law prohibits anyone from knowingly slaughtering or selling a horse for human consumption."


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