Urgent Press Release from The Equine Welfare Alliance
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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