Horse News

Preventing Horse Slaughter – a Personal Evolution

By Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) posted to the Hill’s Congress Blog

“Live, active horses support an important infrastructure of jobs and economies in the United States”

A few years ago, when I was still serving in the Senate, I was asked to support legislation that would ban the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption. My initial reaction was cool to the notion that the federal government should be mandating or telling owners of these horses what they can or cannot do with their animals. However, my initial instincts on such a policy were outweighed by the personal and practical experience that horse owners brought to my attention, including my son, Chet.

An avid horseman, Chet is active in the horse industry and had rescued several horses from a “killer buyer” — one who buys horses from sometimes unsuspecting owners and then sells them to slaughterhouses. My son retrained and sold those horses to become champion polo ponies. His experience showed me that:

live, active horses support an important infrastructure of jobs and economies in the United States. A live horse needs to be fed, groomed and trained, as well as receive vet care, among other things. This in turn creates and maintains a viable and enduring way of life in rural America. The sale of horses to killer-buyers in fact generates very little profit for the seller while simultaneously choking off the demand for the goods and services that other buyers would create.

I was proud to become a co-sponsor of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and strongly support its enactment into law. Notwithstanding my personal evolution in seeking a ban to the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption and the interstate transportation thereof, which the legislation would do, I support this legislation for three compelling reasons: Banning horse slaughter would save taxpayers millions of dollars every year, as it would eliminate a wasteful federal program that only serves to benefit a handful of foreign-owned companies; it would help foster and promote sustainable jobs in rural America; and it would end the needless suffering of more than 100,000 American horses each year, which are hauled across the United States to slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada to supply so‐called “high‐end” restaurants in France and Belgium.

Recently the proponents of the horse slaughter industry, who have been vigorously opposing the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, seized on a report by the Government Accountability Office that made flawed claims, based on flawed evidence, about there now being “too many horses,” which are starving to death and subsequently depressing horse prices. None of this is true. Unfortunately, in the ensuing confusion Congress enacted H.R. 2112, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012, which removed a long‐standing prohibition on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to inspect horses bound for slaughter, thus allowing for the resumption of horse slaughter in the United States — and the expenditure of federal tax dollars on a program that will benefit only foreign interests, not rural America.

Horse slaughter proponents further claim that slaughter exists because there are too many unwanted horses, but fail to point out that even when horse slaughter was allowed in the United States, a large number of horses from Canada were imported annually to a horse slaughter facility in Illinois. If we had too many horses, why did that facility need to import them?

I spent my entire political career working to reduce federal spending, shrink the size of the government, and promote American jobs. Supporting the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act fits all of those key goals while also helping reduce unnecessary animal suffering. For myself, the horse industry, and the majority of Americans who support a ban on horse slaughter, passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is a win‐win issue for America.

Lott is senior counsel at the law firm Patton Boggs LLP and former Senate majority leader.

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21 replies »

  1. Thank you Mr, Lott. I hope you know how much your support means to the horses, owners and folks around the world who just like to look at them. We all appreciate your advocacy.

    That being said. Mr. Lott, get out there! Let the masses know you STILL do not support equine slaughter. Tell EVERYBODY you know the facts about the bloody horse slaughter ‘industry’.

    ‘We The People’ do not support the killing America’s horses- domestic or wild.
    Just say NO to SLAUGHTER! Speak up! Be a leader!

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  2. Injured horses rejected at Mexican slaughterhouse
    http://www.wsmv.com
    Lebanon ,TN horse hauler Three Angels Farm sold 34 horses to a Mexican meat-packing company for 37 cents…

    The rejected ones were most likely just left to die. Several had broken legs. The reporter did a terrific follow up report .

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  3. This goes back to the “starving horse is more inhuman than human consumption horse slaughter” illogical proslaughter argument; sorry, ain’t no hierarchy of evil when it comes to animal abuse in my book. Starving and slaughter are equally repulsive. In fact, slaughter is worse because of the food danger component and a starving equine can be rehabilitated, rehomed generating real US income for many.

    A living equine generates more long term, ethical revenue IN THE US, than a slaughtered one! And as we all here know, the owners of starving equines don’t sell to killers and the killers don’t want skinny, old equines.

    Not a fan of Lott, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    Mr Lott needs to go have a chat with Mr Reid (horse killer extraordinaire). Reid is also responsible for the gridlock in the Senate for just about everything.

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  4. OMG!!! Is this the Trent Lott that spent so much time disagreeing with us years ago on this issue?
    Well, he has many many friends on the Hill and if he truly feels this way, he needs to get his butt back on the Hill and rally the non-supporters. The truth does come out…Canada frequently sent many horses to Cavel, Intl in DeKalb, Illinois so the supporters of that idiotic claim about too many
    horses is irrationale to say the least. Again, its all about the $$$$ Don’t think for one minute these foreign companies haven’t set aside a coffer to pay the Low-Lifes supporting slaughter. Personally,
    I think these cattle people need to clean up their own slaughterhouses because people are sick and tired of all of the recalls on beef. I would imagine the families that had loved ones die due to the contaminated meat have been paid dearly. Some people have found that other sources of protein are better for you than red meat. I changed my habits for two reasons: Unhealthy meat and the appaulling way these animals are treated. However, this is my own personal opinion. I do not try to sway people from devouring cows. Again, the true reason has come out about the abandoned horses. It makes perfect sense that the Killer Buyers/truckers are the ones who abandon the animals which will not bring them any money. The Department of Agriculture needs to get a handle on all of these auctions, enforce our laws and follow the European Union regulations.

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  5. Thank you RT for highlighting the economic stimulus of LIVE horses vs. slaughtered ones. It makes me crazy when the horse eaters claim slaughter helps the equine industry, when the economic reality is that it does exactly the opposite! Slaughtering horses kills equine industry jobs and demand for horse-related goods and services. We need to be hammering this point home to every legislator.

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    • Equine antislaughter and welfare advocates have been saying this for years…..that former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says this (slaughter ain’t good and live equines are better for the US than dead ones) is akin to former Senator Conrad Burns saying the captive bolt is inhumane…..and he (Burns) said that. DUHhhhhhh!?!?

      A slaughtered equine is worth next to nothing for the US; a starving or overbred equine has a chance to be something more in the right human hands and helps the economy. Either scenario, it is despicable human behavior for a buck….starving or not euthanizing responsibly is one step below HCHS….but it is all evil.

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  6. The horse industry is not only in rural America, I live in SoCal. It’s a huge industry, thriving and hiring. There are horses everywhere, even in the heart of Burbank where the big movie studios are located. Probably 90% of food markets carry 50# bags of horse carrots. How about all the online shopping for horse items. Yesterday I bought 2 sets of 4 Professional Choice boots and 2 sets of bell boots well over $300. Afterwards, I went to buy hay and pellets. It is a big industry supported by LIVE HORSES. I wonder if each of us could get a petition going to all of the tack shops and feed stores owners, hang a petition on the wall and have customers sign it. How does one get an official paper petition going, we could even sit at the supermarket. Does someone know how to start this?

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    • Denise- I agree 100%, there are “urban” horses in many places in Ohio, not every horse owner lives and rides in the country. (Stables and trails in Central Park comes to mind). I love your idea about petitions in tack and feed shops. I’ve been putting up flyers in feed stores, grocery and hardware stores, anywhere that has a bulletin board. I think you could use verbiage from any online anti-slaughter petition, print them and go park yourself anywhere people might sign or at least listen. With permission of course.
      Unfortunately, I just read an article this morning. Tractor Supply Company has partnered with (what I believe to be) a pro-slaughter organization. I’d call for a boycott but there are few alternatives for horse owners.

      http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=19606

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      • Many feed and tack also serve the meat industry producers and Farm Bureau members…..they wouldn’t let me put flyers up; if I did it anyway, they’d be torn down by the store, co-op or the pro horse killers that patronized the store. It is still worth trying.

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  7. I once heard a very good piece of advice.
    “Politicians wait until they see which way the Parade is going, and then they jump in front and wave the banner”.
    ALL of us have been beating the drums and getting the parade started. We need to keep the momentum going and keep beating that drum.

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  8. Thank you, R. T.

    The most significant part of this article is that you have the former Senate Majority Leader (who knows how things are done and how they ares supposed to be done) refuting the validity of the GAO study. This is the lynch pin used to cinch the removal of language forbidding the funding of horse meat inspectors. This may get the attention of some people that have not taken a hard look at it. When I tell someone who did not follow the pre-release of the report stories, or who does not have the training to evaluate research or recognize faulty logic that the GAO study is flawed, they look at me like I am the one who has been drinking the company kool-aide. However, when the former Senate Majority Leader says that both the methods and the conclusions of the study are flawed, he has the authority and the credibility that should cause at least a few people to pause.

    To my knowledge, this is the first official, previously or presently serving, who has publicly questioned the validity of the GAO report. This is a huge step—in my mind anyway.

    I understand that not everyone will agree with me on this point, but I do not think it is helpful to be critical of someone who is supporting an issue that is so important to us. Senator Lott is using a public forum followed by decision makers, both elected and appointed. He has retired from public life after leaving office amid controversy/ Personally, I am grateful that he is willing to risk stirring the stick from what was a difficult time in his life to take a stand for horses.

    Senator Lott stated that his thoughts about horse slaughter have evolved—changed gradually—We need some other people to evolve who are indifferent, uninformed, or misinformed to consider just what happens to horses once they are sold for slaughter until they bleed out.

    We need to keep providing opportunities for people to think about horse slaughter. If we can get people to open their minds, if only for a few minutes, to what actually happens to horses, they will convince themselves that there are better choices for horses who no longer can be used for the intention for which they were purchased.

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  9. If you figure live equines create more monies than the meat..then the Govermnent of Canada is going to need some very strong convincing to think different…Horse meat is the Third largest red eat export to overseas markets ..thus creating a 3 billion dollar market…These are figures released by the government of Canada…not being negative but a few letters of protest aren’t going to stop a market like this …It’s like the mustang issue…a few thousand head of horses is destroying the Eco system …but cattle and sheep don’t…It has only taken a few ranchers to convince someone important that the cattle need that land…thousands of protests from horse people can’t stop the annilation of the mustang..it’s a simple money plan…wild horses only cost the government..cattle and sheep generate billions for the country….

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  10. Mr. Lott, I would like to know what we the people in Missouri can do to stop this new Horse Slaughter House from coming into our area. I don’t want it in Missouri period. This new facility is supposed to be built right outside of Mountain Grove, Mo in the little community of Dunn, Mo. I just live a few miles from Dunn. Most of the people I’ve spoken with in this area are “against” a Slaughter House for Horses. I have heard that between 200-400 healthy horses will be shipped into this facility from other states & butchered here every day. I contacted Roy Blunt our Senator & he is in full support of this Slaughter House coming into our state. I am totally “against” butchering horses for their meat. This is not about horses that are being abused, starved or neglected. This is about making money by selling their meat. How do we stop this? Thank You. Lila Spence

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