Horse News

Horse Slaughter is Bad for the Economy, the Community and the Taxpayer

article by John Holland from the pages of the North Platte Telegraph

The Great “Horse Sense” Debate is On

EWA President John Holland speaking before White House in 2010 ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Senator Tyson Larson’s bills LB 305 and 306 are the latest examples of bad legislation introduced in an attempt to bring back the U.S. horse slaughter plants. LB 305 would require the taxpayers of Nebraska to pay for the establishment of an ante-mortem inspection program designed solely at circumventing the Congressional elimination of funding for mandatory USDA inspection of horses killed for human consumption.

LB 306 would make it a crime for a horse rescue to refuse to accept any horse offered to it. These bills are part of a proxy war between corporate agriculture, breeders and what they see as the “animal rights” movement. LB 306 penalizes those working to compensate for over-breeding and is more a vendetta than reasoned legislation.

Larson claims that opening a horse slaughter plant would be good for Nebraska’s economy, but Nebraska already enjoys the second lowest unemployment in the country (4.4 percent). In fact, history tells us that it would bring only misery and loss to Nebraskans.

I will present evidence proving that horse slaughter is bad for the economy, the community, the taxpayers, horse owners and the horses themselves. American horse slaughter is a dying practice, and spending treasure to resuscitate it is folly.

Ignoring the worst economy in living memory, both [Charles] Stenholm and Larson claim that the closing of the slaughter plants has harmed the horse market and increased equine neglect. I will first prove this is impossible.

A brief history of horse slaughter:

In 1990, there were about 12 horse slaughter plants operating in the U.S. One of these was Central Nebraska Packing in North Platte. Along with plants in Canada and Mexico USDA statistics show they slaughtered a total of 419,133 American horses that year. Both the number of slaughterhouses and horses slaughtered declined steadily through the decade despite no legal restrictions until California banned slaughter in 1998. Nobody claimed that this 77.5 percent reduction caused any problems.

By 2000 there were only three, foreign owned, horse slaughter plants left in the U.S.; two in Texas and one in Illinois. Horse slaughter declined until 2002, and then rebounded slightly to a level just over 100,000 horses a year.

In January 2007 the two Texas plants were closed when the courts ruled that a 1949 law against selling horsemeat for human consumption was still in effect. The Dallas Crown plant in Kaufman Texas had earlier been ordered closed by the town Board of Adjustments because of pollution, but had successfully remained open through legal delaying.

The remaining Cavel plant in DeKalb, Ill., was shut down in September 2007 after unsuccessfully challenging a new state law against slaughtering horses for human consumption. The removal of funding for required inspections had also closed the plant temporarily and the work-around program allowing the plants to pay for their own inspections was eventually ruled to be illegal. Like Dallas Crown, the plant was also facing massive fines for its sewage discharge.

The key to the issue is what happened after the plants closed; virtually nothing. The plants relocated their plants to Canada and Mexico in weeks.

In the 10 years before the closings an average of 117,121 American equines were slaughtered per year, and in the three years afterward the annual average was virtually the same at 116,867.

Just as many horses are being purchased at approximately the same prices from the same auctions as before the closings. Therefore, any claim that the closures harmed the horse market or caused horses to be neglected is inescapably false.

We have had slaughter available and it failed to protect the horse market from the recession.

Click (HERE) to Comment in Support

Click (HERE) to read opposing view

23 replies »

  1. Charles Stenholm says: “What the animal rights activists such as Mr. Holland want to take away is the value of all of our animals.”

    Boy they sure do love to throw around the title “activist”! Each and every pro-slaughter proponent seems to be on the same page, do they have a handbook or something? A list of rules that says which words to use and how to say things to subtly try to sway the general public? Because it certainly seems like they do!

    My second favorite line: “What the activists want to do is have the government tell you what you can and can’t do with your horse. This is intrusive and wrong.”

    Why is that my second favorite line? Because not only does he get to use the word “activist” again, but then he goes on to say that “us activists” are trying to govern the way they treat animals – like the actual government doesn’t already do that! You “can’t” starve the horse. You “can’t” beat (abuse) the horse. You “can’t” leave the horse standing in deep manure or mud. You “can’t” leave the horse without adequate shelter…. So, really, he’s just trying to stir up the “anti-legislation” groups. And BTW Charles, the government also tells us to wear seat belts in cars, and where we’re allowed to shoot guns… I bet those laws piss you off too.

    Processing. That one word also keeps cropping up. I get that they’re trying to make it sound like the cattle operations, who also use the word “processing”, but in reality, it is slaughter. It is inhumane due to the fight or flight aspect of the horses genetic makeup that makes it slaughter. Processing is what happens AFTER THE HORSE IS SLAUGHTERED. Oh, and “end of life” options, that’s one I hear everywhere too.

    John, I have a question for you. In my opinion, if someone is pro-slaughter because they TRULY cared about the fate of horses they would try to push ALL sorts of different positive solutions (gelding clinics, euth clinics, breeding restrictions, etc.), NOT just slaughter. Since NONE of them seem to actually care about the horses – since all they push is slaughter – why are they pushing slaughter? <– That is my question to you. Why? Anyone can look at the statistics and see, logically, that slaughter is not the reason for the glut of horses, the low prices, and the abuse and neglect. So WHY push slaughter? The counties that have the slaughter houses don't make money and only have ecological disasters to clean up. The people working in the slaughter house are not high in numbers and are high in immigrants (if I'm correct). WHAT IS THE REASONING? I just don't get it. Please, if you have ANY idea why they continue to push this issue, I would LOVE to know why.


    • Stenholm pushes it because he gets paid to push it. It’s the same with Conrad Burns who is a paid lobbyist for the AQHA – the puppy mill of the equine world.

      Overall, they push it because it removes all accountability and responsibility of ownership. It allows breeders to cull their excess. Not only can they dump their mistakes so they can breed more but they get paid to do so.

      That’s what is so humorous when they claim it controls the population when it reality, slaughter causes the over population. Why should a breeder breed responsibly when slaughter gives them a dumping ground with compensation? All consequences for over breeding have been removed.

      Slaughter also allows an owner to abuse and neglect their horses without ever being held accountable. What better way to hide their crimes than to ship the victim off to slaughter.




  3. The whole answer is: They do not want any horses in existence. THey don’t want to see these iconic animals in shows like Cavalier. They don’t want to see people riding, loving, and caring for their equine family members. They don’t want to see anyone enjoying this animal that has helped America become what it is today. From being ridden in the Civil War, to participating in rodeos, to being ridden in jumping and other equine shows. These are bloody, cruel, individuals that are self serving and have no souls. THey are the ones that should be slaughtered by their own means that they are pushing. God help us to deliver these people to their demise of years in jail at hard labor. This will never punish them for their dastardly deeds. This will not bring back our beautiful animals. There is no more beautiful picture than to see a beautiful horse running with his mane and tail flowing behind and around him or standing erect on a hill with his mane and tail blowing in the wind. What a majestic and beautiful icon we have and there are those that consistently want to take it away from us. DAMN THEM.


  4. Heads Up RT ~BLM Nevada News
    FOR RELEASE: Feb. 18, 2011
    CONTACT: JoLynn Worley, 775-861-6515,

    Special Task Force Visits, Evaluates Antelope
    Wild Horse Gather

    Reno, Nev.— The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) asked the American

    Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to evaluate the handling, health

    care and welfare of the wild horses and burros at various gathers and

    facilities. As part of its evaluation, the AAEP BLM Task Force visited the

    Antelope Gather Wednesday and Thursday this week to observe and evaluate

    conditions at the gather. The Antelope Gather is the third gather the AAEP

    has visited during the BLM’s current gather season.

    The task force data collection will be limited to the safety, health

    status, health management, care, handling and welfare of wild horses and

    burros in the BLM program. A written report of the findings and any

    related recommendations will be supplied to the BLM.

    The Antelope Gather continues today in the Goshute Herd Management Area

    (HMA), with the gather site being moved to the north end. The BLM Elko

    District has gathered 1,029 wild horses from the Antelope Complex. Eight

    horses have been released back to the range. The BLM plans to gather and

    remove about 2,000 excess animals to reduce the wild horse population to

    within a range of 427 to 788 animals, which is the appropriate carrying

    capacity for the Complex based on the available water and forage in the


    The Antelope Complex consists of the Antelope HMA which is managed by the

    BLM Ely District and the Antelope Valley, Goshute, and Spruce-Pequop HMAs

    which are managed by the Elko District.

    Seven wild horses have died at the gather, some of which were

    gather-related and some non-gather related. One mare sustained a cervical

    spinal cord injury during gather operations and died yesterday.

    The gathered animals are being transported to either the Gunnison

    Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Utah; the Palomino Valley Center near

    Reno, Nev.; or the Indian Lakes Road Facility in Fallon, Nev., where they

    will be prepared for the BLM adoption program. Un-adopted horses will be

    placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and

    retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming

    Horses and Burros Act. The BLM does not sell or send any horses to


    The BLM has scheduled observation days on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for

    the duration of the gather to provide the media and public opportunities to

    view gather activities. Call the Wild Horse Gather Information Line at

    775-753-0227 for a recorded message with information on daily gather

    activities and updated gather schedule. The scheduled observation days

    provide visitors more opportunity to interact with BLM staff and include

    escorted opportunities to observe the animals at the gather and holding

    corrals. Credentialed media and visitors are encouraged to sign up prior to

    arriving by calling Lesli Coakley, BLM Elko District public affairs

    specialist, at (775) 753-0386, or email to

    The gather is expected to continue into late February. Daily updates of the

    gather and photos are posted on the BLM website at:



  5. These people have been out there and the horses have consistently had little or no water?! This is worthy of a fine and should be sited. It is part of their contract to provide water and feed. This is not being done. This observer group is out to lunch… mar



    American Association of Equine Practitioners
    4075 Iron Works Parkway | Lexington, KY 40511
    Phone: 859-233-0147 | Fax: 859-233-1968 | e-mail:
    Copyright © 1996-2007 American Association of Equine Practitioners.


    • Louie, Where is the link to leave a comment. Somehow I missed it.
      I don’t mind leaving my name. In fact I’ll post it in LARGE print!


  7. The paper wherein the debate is being hosted is not posting my comments either……Hmmm is right. So much for let the people speak.

    AAEP supports paid for equine slaughter.

    BLM sure busts their butts to find “entities” to “observe”, except for the likes of Laura Leigh…odd, don’t you think? Wonder how much that dog and pony show is going to cost the taxpayers.


  8. This was in our local paper. I told myself I wouldn’t read the pro position because it would only rile me up, but I read it anyway. It’s disgusting what has made it into the opinion column the past few weeks. My Grandma and I have had quite the debate since not being a horse person, she doesn’t see the problem with people who claim the reason they want a slaughter plant opened is because they love their horses. After all, their letters sound so sincere. Mmm hmm…

    This one was my personal favorite. Warning: don’t read unless you have a trashcan nearby to vomit into.

    This whole thing is a mess. We used to have a facility just up the road and re-opening it will only mean the stench of dying horses crying out in fear will return to our otherwise peaceful farm. Maybe it’s just me, but my family taught me to value life. All the beautiful, endlessly faithful horses I have had in my short life have died with their dignity and were laid to rest in a tranquil location somewhere in the west pasture. I still visit the resting spot of my favorite mare and lay flowers down.

    That aside, 306 worries me more. It would gut what few rescue operations there are in Nebraska by ensuring they can’t afford to go on. Want another 3 Strikes? Because that’s what will happen – the responsible rescues will go out of business and the irresponsible ones will hoard until we have another mass starvation issue on our hands. It’s entire purpose is to make sure that as many horses go to slaughter as possible by knee-capping any responsible citizens who might want to bail out some of the poor things.


  9. The fallacy with the pro-slaughter argument is it is only wishful thinking. They would like to bring back the days when rescues had to spend $6-700 at auction for a quarter horse, TB, paint, etc. (because they stacked so neatly in the KB’s trailers)! Face it, folks, including Slaughterhouse Sue and the infamous Illinois Horse Council, those days are gone forever. Wake up and smell the coffee.

    As for more BLM “spin” on their humane methods at the round-ups, the evidence continues to mount, thanks to the diligence of our advocates, to the contrary. The BLM has told so many lies they’ve lost all credibility and they owe it all to their actions at the Pryor round-up in September ’09. Even hiring a PR firm didn’t help this complicit agency. But you can’t tell the BLM anything. It’s like trying to teach an ape the scriptures. Their one truth is Bob Abbey’s statement, “We are not the bureau of horses.” Amen to that – they know nothing about the species!


  10. Please note:
    On the NPTelegraph page when you originally went to leave a comment, it said something to the effect of:
    Putting your first and last name, along with your email, will get your comment approved quicker.

    Now it says (and I copied and pasted, using their caps): FIRST AND LAST NAME ALONG WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS IS REQUIRED FOR APPROVAL OF A COMMENT!

    Nice. What a bunch of idiots. So, I went back just now and added the name John Smith, along with my email address and told them to publish my comment. We’ll see what happens NOW.


    • The comments have been posted. We aren’t sure what happened but they are moderated – they may have been swamped or been having tech issues. I suspect they are getting some nasty comments that we’ll never see!

      It always said to display your first and last name. Why not use your real name?


      • Why not? Because I will not do that. There are several personal reasons I will not go into, but other than those… let me see… I’ve written things in the past that have had me stalked, threatened, harassed, and impersonated. Never again.


  11. I thought that I had added the link for the letter, but I don’t see it in my comment. I meant for readers to be able to read the entire letter.


    • Thanks, Louie. I did see that, but thought it was “click here if you support the p;ro slaughter issue” I finally used it and commented with my name.


  12. I posted another comment with the link to the Paula Bacon letter, but I don’t see it there. Is it possible that they don’t display links?


  13. I just posted another comment (they apparently don’t print links). There needs to be an answer to the last person commenting who thinks that slaughter plants in this country would be a “more humane alternative” than the ones in Mexico. THERE NEEDS TO BE ANOTHER COMMENT. We need to offer viable solutions.


  14. From ISPMB newsletter–Karen Sussman attended the Slaughter Summit in

    Ex US Representative, Charlie Stenholm, is now a lobbyist for the horsemeat industry.


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