Horse News

Lobby Group Will Urge Congress to Fund Export of Tainted Horse Meat

Urgent Press Release from The Equine Welfare Alliance

CHICAGO, (EWA) – The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has passed a resolution calling for the reinstatement of USDA inspectors for horse meat.

The NCSL is a non-governmental lobbyist organization which serves the nation’s 50 states legislators to advocate and lobby for the interests of states before Congress and federal agencies. The resolutions NCSL passes are not binding and merely allow them to lobby on behalf of the states.

Representative Sue Wallis (WY) who is vice chair of the NCSL’s Agriculture and Energy Committee, went on record asking that she be allowed to slaughter horses to feed Wyoming children, the poor and prison inmates without having the meat federally inspected for consumer safety. The Wyoming livestock board responded quickly by stating in no uncertain terms that “horse slaughter is not an option.”

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) strongly opposes the misuse of tax payer dollars to fund inspections for an industry that is not needed or wanted by the overwhelming majority of Americans.

US horses are not raised as food animals and as such, receive numerous substances on a routine basis that are prohibited for use in food animals. Our country does not track horses and has no mechanism to remove horses from the food chain that have received prohibited substances.

Horse owners were vehemently opposed last year at an attempt to implement NAIS, a national tracking system. Considering that less than two percent of the horse population ends up on slaughter trucks and represents only three cents on every $100 earned by the horse industry, the cost of implementing a national tracking system to accommodate an insignificant percentage of horses makes absolutely no fiscal sense.

In the NCSL release, as with most pro horse slaughter communications, there is no mention of the known drug issue in American horses. “It is a travesty that legislators would even consider reinstating inspections knowing that there is no way to guarantee consumer food safety” said EWA’s Valerie James-Patton.

A recent survey of horse owners by the publication, The Horse, revealed that 96% of horse owners give their horses at least one of the banned substances on a regular basis. A peer reviewed scientific study by Drs. Marini, Dodman and Blondeau that was published in the scientific journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, revealed 100% of the slaughtered Thoroughbreds traced in the study had received the carcinogen phenylbutazone. It should be noted that these tainted horses were shipped to the European Union for human consumption while the USDA was supposedly inspecting the horse meat. Another study in CA of Thoroughbreds revealed a 99% usage.

“Instead of wasting valuable legislator’s time on this nonsense,” commented EWA’s Vicki Tobin, “a better use of time and donations by these pro horse slaughter groups would be to address why excess horses continue to be produced every year and start working on solutions. Continuing to slaughter the victims of irresponsible breeders and owners, is only going to perpetuate the problem, not correct it.”

Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 120 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.


National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) adopts new policy resolution calling for USDA inspection of horse meat.

The policy resolution was passed at the annual Legislative Summit held in Louisville, Kentucky on July 25-28, 2010. The policy was first reviewed and passed by the Agriculture and Energy Committee, and then passed at the Business Meeting of the 45 states in attendance. Policies which receive a super majority vote of more than 3/4 of the states attending give NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. the authority to lobby Congress on behalf of the position of the states.

USDA ante-and post mortem inspections are mandatory if an animal is to be sold as meat, and the animal must be slaughtered in a USDA-inspected facility. Federal appropriations law contains a prohibition on allowing federal dollars to be spent on salaries for inspectors who inspect horses before or after slaughter, making it impossible for operations that want to process horse meat within their borders to market this meat. Inspectors also cannot respond to a voluntary, fee-based inspection request to inspect horse meat. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) believes that these provisions unduly restrict states’ action regarding horse slaughtering facilities within their borders. Therefore, NCSL calls upon Congress to remove these restrictions in existing law, and not insert similar provisions in subsequent appropriations bills or other legislative vehicles.

The closing of horse slaughter facilities in America has decimated the equine industry, and has curtailed the ability of states and tribes to control the numbers of excess and abandoned horses on their lands. Documented reports indicate an increase of 400% in the number of starved, abandoned, and neglected horses between 2008 and 2009 alone. This has resulted in unprecedented state budget increases and taxpayer costs at a time when states cannot afford unnecessary expense. It has severely impacted the livestock industry as a whole, and by eliminating the salvage value of horses has significantly reduced the market value of all horses. The loss of markets for horse meat for pet food, for the maintenance of zoo animals, and for byproducts has greatly impacted these sectors. The loss of horse products for export has eliminated more than

$42 million dollars of direct income for an already struggling sector of the livestock industry, not to mention millions of dollars in indirect costs because of the loss of value of individual animals. Given the current state of the horse processing industry, it is particularly important that the federal government not restrict access to inspection.

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19 replies »

  1. Just last week it was reported on Bite news that a underground group of Australian wild horse avocates went to a group of wild horses waiting slaughter. And put bute in their water. And then announced it on the news.
    Now thats grass roots cutting the legs off the horse eaters.


  2. This Lobby group really wants to poison humans, when the entire world knows horsemeat can kill and sicken people. Aren’t they afraid of being sued, Sue?

    “Phenylbutazone is known to induce blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia and deaths. Hypersensitivity reactions of the serum-sickness type have also been reported. In addition, phenylbutazone is a carcinogen, as determined by the National Toxicology Program.

    For animals, phenylbutazone is currently approved only for oral and injectable use in dogs and horses. Use in horses is limited to use in horses not intended for food. There are currently no approved uses of phenylbutazone in food-producing animals.

    “””Investigation by FDA and State regulatory counterparts has found phenylbutazone on farms and identified tissue residues in culled dairy cattle. In addition, USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service has reported phenylbutazone residues in culled dairy cattle presented for slaughter for human food throughout the U.S. in the past two calendar years. This evidence indicates that the extralabel use of phenylbutazone in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older will likely result in the presence, at slaughter, of residues that are toxic to humans, including being carcinogenic, at levels that have not been shown to be safe.””””


  3. I can’t believe thatthis petition was first ciruclated at the KENTUCKY meeting place. What the hay. Why didn’t horse people have a lobby there.


  4. The questions I would ask the legislators are, “Would you serve potentially tainted horsemeat to your families, especially children and young people who could build up carcinogens in their bodies over time and suffer the consequences? Will horsemeat be on the menu at Congessional dining halls? Are you willing to take that chance? If not, why on earth would you subject others, both in the U.S. and around the world, to something you would hesitate to do to your collegues and those YOU care about?”


    • Oops – forgot the “export” part, but I think these questions could be crafted in such a was that they would still bring the points home. Additionally, how did consumer groups and the general public react to the proven poisoning of pets and children from Chinese products tainted with melamine, lead and heavy metals exported to the U.S.? Again, are you willing to take the chance with people’s lives and our country’s reputation?


    • That is a very good idea about the way to present the facts of toxic meat. We also must protect the wild ones from the likes of slaughterhouse sue.

      I would also include the dangers of humans eating the wild horse meat from mares given birth control drug. I read that drug drug causes miscarrage in humans. We have documents and facts that wild horses are poached and sold into slaughter. Plus the BLM can’t tell one horse from another because they do not use any decent id system. The BLM even claims some of those wild horses showing up at auction sales are “feral escaped horses” so that must mean those horses may have had bute 😉

      It is a huge issue now and a known fact-girls maturing younger and younger due to hormones in the food supply. That birth control drug makes any wild horse unfit for humans to eat for its entire life. How do we know the blm didn’t by mistake dart males with the drug?


      • PZP is indeed on the list of substances that are banned in food animals. Also, the BLM sometimes gives bute to the horses – do they know which ones? I believe they also worm them – all modern paste wormers are on the banned list. Goodness, maybe the Mustangs aren’t so “clean” after all.


  5. What is infruiating to me is the concept that an obviously “special interest organization” like NCSL solely exists to find ways around their own state and federal representation process to basically pretend collective bargaining with Congress on behalf of ALL their constituents. What an insult to the Constitution!

    Go try to trace the layers of NFP, corporations and funding sources with these crooks (NCSL). Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be able to figure it out.

    The money, time wasted and disservice they do to OUR country and individual states is outrageous. It is basically another venue for big corporations, special interests (NCBA, AQHA, etc) to muddy the legislative waters with distraction and favoritism.


    • Right! Canada has a bill pending to ban horse slaughter there because 90% of the horses they slaughter come from here and, since we don’t have the guts to ban slaughter here, they don’t want to have to take the responsibility for exporting meat they can’t guarantee is safe. Now, how embarrassing is THAT?


  6. I generally don’t like to wax darkly, but it occurs to me there’s only two ways Horse could ever be considered safe for human consumption – straight off the range or raised that way.
    If that’s where these people are directing their thought processes, I think they’d be surprised to find how dark it could become.


    • Lisa, you are correct on 2 counts: (1) it is very dark for the normal human mind to consider how to do the horsemeat safely, and (2) wild and strictly raised are going to slaughter as I type…..along with the stolen, abused, overbred, injured equines currently going to slaughter with NO production histories or inspections.


      • The new traceability rules from the EU are now being enforced. Canada will have to abide by them – so will Mexico if they intend to export the horse meat they produce. It may get quite interesting very soon.


      • morganlvr (excellent equines btw):

        Depends on the seriousness of enforcement at each end of the “meat” and those standards. And Mexico is a complete MESS! ….it is akin to the wild west of the 1800s on crack.


  7. It will depend on the enforcement, of course, but by 2013 Canada has said that it will require all horses presented for slaughter to be in the “passport” system like they have in the EU. There horses are implanted with a microchip shortly after birth and issued a passport. On the passport the horse’s vet is required to list any and all substances he/she administers. The passport must remain with the horse for life no matter how many time he/she changes owners – including the slaughter buyers.

    For now, every horse will have to have a requiring that either slaughtered animals have complete health records showing they have not received banned substances or a 180 day quarantine for the horses that have had permissible drugs. Claude Boissonnealut, head of the CFIAs red meat programs, has indicated that Canada will likely abide by the 180 day quarantine, as mandated by the EU.

    Horses coming from auctions and other sources in the US will have to be kept drug free on a feedlot for half a year. Producers estimate that feeding horses that long will more than double their cost, making them less competitive with horses from other sources.

    So, no matter what, it will complicate life for the people involved quite severely. The EU – or Canada – might decide to ban US horses completely.

    As for Mexico, the EU had inspectors checking the facilities that export to them came down HARD for inhumane practices. They gave the plant a certain time to shape up and they will inspect again. If the plant doesn’t measure up, they may stop importing from Mexico. No matter what, the Mexican plants will have to abide by the EU’s rules if they plan to export to them.

    Of course Mexico has plants catering to the locals, and, well, you know they won’t be worrying about the meat being contaminated, but at least they are a much smaller percent than the ones slaughtering for export.

    We need to shame our legislators for allowing this to go on this long. We need to take responsibility for our horses ourselves.

    Linda, I LOVE your suggestion about asking them to allow their own families to eat this meat. That’s VERY good!


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