Moran Calls on USDA to Deny Horse Slaughter Facility Permits

Source: Office of Rep. Jim Moran

Requests agency include slaughter ban in FY ’14 budget
Jerry Finch (Habitat for Horses), R.T. Fitch (Wild Horse Freedom Federation), with Rep. Jim Moran (U.S. Congress) discussing issues in the halls of Congress

Jerry Finch (Habitat for Horses), R.T. Fitch (Wild Horse Freedom Federation), with Rep. Jim Moran (U.S. Congress) discussing issues in the halls of Congress

Washington, DC – Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, today sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling on the USDA to deny permit applications for horse slaughter facilities, citing concerns with the cost and safety of the practice. Moran’s letter follows a New York Times report that the USDA may approve horse slaughter facilities in the near future.

“Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances that are banned by the FDA from administration to animals destined for human consumption,” Moran wrote. “At a time when USDA’s budget is diminished by budget cuts and sequestration…every dollar spent at horse slaughter plants would divert necessary resources away from beef, chicken, and pork inspections – meat actually consumed by Americans.”

The five-year ban on horse slaughter for human consumption ended in 2011 when the final House-Senate appropriations conference agreement removed Rep. Moran’s amendment that barred funding for USDA inspections of horse meat. In the letter, Moran praised the USDA’s support for legislative efforts to prevent horse slaughter and asked the USDA to include similar language in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal.

Moran continued: “While I work to restore this ban, I strongly urge you to exercise all available options to prevent the resumption of this industry.”

Moran’s letter also highlighted the negative economic impact horse slaughter could have on the entire U.S. meat industry. Earlier this year, the European Union discovered horse meat had made its way into the EU’s beef supply. In the month following media reports of horse meat-laced products, sales of frozen burgers in the U.K. collapsed by 43 percent.

“When asked if such a disaster could occur in our country, USDA representatives expressed confidence in the American food supply by emphasizing that there is no horse slaughter industry here to pose a food safety risk,” Moran wrote. “That reassurance that will no longer be available if horse slaughter is allowed to return.”

Full text of the letter below:

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

I write to express my concern that the slaughter of horses for human consumption may soon resume on American soil.  According to a February 28th New York Times article, the USDA is moving forward with processing Valley Meat Company’s application for horse slaughter inspections.  I also understand that four other facilities have filed applications for horse slaughter inspections.  USDA has verified that, in less than two months, a grant of inspection could be issued, and the slaughtering of horses could resume in the U.S.

Widespread public opposition to horse slaughter led to the closure of the last U.S. horse slaughter plants in 2007.  A prohibition on the use of taxpayer dollars for horse slaughter inspections was included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Agriculture Appropriations bill and routinely included each year until 2011, when the language was excluded from the FY 2012 appropriations bill.  The language was incorporated into the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill after I offered it as an amendment in committee, but unfortunately that bill was never enacted.  With the funding prohibition lifted, Americans – 80 percent of whom polls show are opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption – may soon see their taxpayer dollars spent to finance horse slaughter.

At a time when USDA’s budget is diminished by budget cuts and sequestration, it would be irresponsible to divert millions of dollars a year to inspect horsemeat consumed entirely by foreign consumers.  Every dollar spent at horse slaughter plants would divert necessary resources away from beef, chicken, and pork inspections – meat actually consumed by Americans.  In addition, horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances that are banned by the FDA from administration to animals destined for human consumption.  Contrary to the claims of slaughter proponents, these horses are not old and unwanted, with USDA statistics showing that 92 percent of all horses sent to slaughter are in good condition.

Recent events in Europe demonstrate the threat the horse slaughter industry could pose to the U.S. meat industry.  This year’s scandal over horse meat mislabeling and toxicity has shaken consumer confidence in the safety of all meat on the European market. In the month following media reports of horse meat-laced products, sales of frozen burgers in the U.K. collapsed by 43 percent, sales of frozen-meat dishes in France fell by 30 percent, and sales of ready-made pasta dishes, frozen foods and meat sauces in Italy dropped by 30 percent.  When asked if such a disaster could occur in our country, USDA representatives expressed confidence in the American food supply by emphasizing that there is no horse slaughter industry here to pose a food safety risk.  That reassurance that will no longer be available if horse slaughter is allowed to return.

I am encouraged by USDA’s statement of support for appropriations language to prohibit taxpayer dollars for horse slaughter inspections.  I also appreciate your support for a “third way” solution for unwanted horses rather than slaughtering them for human consumption.  In acknowledgement of these positions, I urge you to include language prohibiting funding for horse slaughter inspections in your FY 2014 budget submission to Congress similar to the amendment that I offered the past two years.

I believe that you, consistent with your regulatory authority, should deny Valley Meat’s permit for horse slaughter inspections so further consideration can be given to the important responsibility of monitoring equine drug residues.  To this end, I ask that USDA provide an official response to the petition for rulemaking to label horse meat as adulterated prior to issuing a grant of inspection.

Finally, I request that you provide me with an estimate of the total expenditures required to reinstate a USDA horse slaughter inspection program. This calculation should include inspector training, creation of a testing regimen, continuous updates to that testing regimen as new drugs are discovered, creation of a traceability program, and plans for the testing of meat from each slaughtered horse. This last item is critical because, unlike other types of livestock that are raised in lots with similar medical regimens, each horse has a unique medical history.  Sampling, therefore, will not be considered an accurate representation of all horse meat.

It is regrettable that Congress allowed the prohibition on federal funding for horse slaughter inspections to lapse.  While I work to restore this ban, I strongly urge you to exercise all available options to prevent the resumption of this industry.  I also stand ready and willing to work with you in developing a responsible plan for handling unwanted horses.

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Jim Moran

33 comments on “Moran Calls on USDA to Deny Horse Slaughter Facility Permits

  1. I appreciate Congressman Moran’s support but aren’t USDA’s hands tied on this matter? Should we all be sending this letter to the President. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to block any of these horse slaughter houses from opening. What are the best things that all of us as supporters can do?

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    • We really need to make the people overbreeding horses for profit and perfect conformation accountable for their stock. Simply, dont breed more than you can raise. Some of the worst offenders breed way too many horses every year, and what they dont think is perfect get disgarded at auction, and bought by kill buyers. I know personally a QH rancher that has 40 or more mares dropping foals each spring and she supports horse slaughter because she lost so much money at auction because they were closed down. That is how she thinks of her horses, profit no matter what. Over breeding more than they can handle. Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds as well. All 3 are the worst offenders. Disgarding them when they no longer win, or they break down and are forced to retire. Also defunding the BLM and stopping them from taking away our Wild mustangs and burros, closing down the PMU facilities. (which cause cancer in women anyways). I could go on and on, but this is where it needs to start to remove the need for any idea of horse slaughter in the first place. Write, write, and write some more to our legislators.

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    • No, Paula, the USDA is mandated to follow the law. Now, the same laws that apply to them regarding having to inspect potential slaughter facilities also pertain to them regarding the need to adequately investigate the numerous violations to the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 that was never enforced on the foreign-owned facilities in TX and IL. I know for a fact that the violations were reported and ignored. When the violations include over 40% of slaughtered horses who are not “rendered insensible” by the ineffective captive-bolt device which was designed for use on head-restrained cattle, there is serious reason for them to revisit this process and make a determination based upon facts and the law.

      Bottom line: if commercial horse slaughter could be accomplished humanely, we would not be having this discussion!

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  2. Reblogged this on Serenity's Musings and commented:
    Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia(D) request agency to include slaughter and deny permit applications for horse slaughter facilities, citing concerns with the cost and safety of the practice.

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  3. We also need to remove all of the BLM mustangs and burros from Oklahoma and new Mexico for their protection. Ole Skye had her eye on them and so does Ricky. We don’t need to supply them with the public.s wild mustangs and burros. We already know that the BLM had been instrumental in their demise in slaughter houses in Mexico. Wait till Oklahomans lose their “property” to the state so they can keep slaughtering. Just keep pushing the SAFE Act and close these hell holes. Let them eat the costs. Don’t lose focus people. We need to end horse slaughter once and for all.

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    • Yeah!! I too worry about the wild mustang’s, those horse meat eating sicko’s have got their eye on them because they know that they are drug free!!!!! They have a lot of them in their holding pen’s. I lose sleep over this every night thinking about them.!!!

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      • Mustangs are not drug free. They are “processed” w/ vaccines, dewormers, fertility drugs etc when they are stolen from their legal domain and incarcerated.
        God bless Moran and the few voices of reason in our deeply corrupted kleptocratic government.

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  4. God Bless Jim Moran. He is a refreshing voice of reason, and a voice for the voiceless. He has long been an outspoken advocate for humane conditions for animals.

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  5. Thanks again to Rep. Jim Moran. His letter to Sec. Vilsack is clear and concise and falling on what seem to be sympathetic ears as Sec. Vilsack has made it clear to Congress they need to ban horse slaughter permanently.

    It is so insane that people just don’t comprehend or don’t want to comprehend the drug residue issues. Not to mention the shear savagery of processing an equine.

    (But beware…I still think there is a sneaky ol’ fox somewhere near the hen house)

    The S.A.F.E. Act has to pass for the war to diminish. We still have to deal with illegal operations like those found here in Florida…but that’s a fight for another day.

    God Bless Jim Moran

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    • I echo your comment, Steve.

      Even though it’s “sheer savagery” and not “shear savagery” 🙂 the scissor-like adjective you use is reminiscent of the terrifying devices employed to murder the gentle, harmless horses (including the too-close-for-comfort wild ones).

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  6. THANK YOU, THANK YOU from so many folks that want this stopped!!!! Mr. Moran is working so very hard to help all the horses from being tortured!!!!! Thanks Again

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  7. I will be sending him an email thanking him for all his support on this critical issue. We all too must send emails and calling our prespective legislators asking them to support Rep. Moran. Our legislators must be told to honor the wishes of the 80% in the country who do not support the slaughter of our horses and other equines. The more support he receives from his collegues, the
    better chance we have of keeping slaughter facilities out of this country..Rep. Moran as we can see is committed to finding ways to care for the so called unwanted horse population. Its a bunch of bs because the only ones supporting slaughter are the trainers, livestock owners and breeders who see this as a way of culling out their less than perfect crops. No horse is ever crazy, its the idiots that try to train or own them. However, we must positively push those that represent us in Washington to pass legislation making this whole process illegal and against the law.

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  8. Yes! Let’s talk about horse slaughter and the ludicrous possibility that millions in funding to the USDA would go to inspect a process in clear violation of the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 for foreign-backed companies and a foreign market that is many times an illegal one:

    Bovines and equines (cattle and horses) are both supposed to be “rendered insensible with a single (1) shot” before vivisection, before they hang on the hook, according to Federal Law. A large percentage (at least 40%) of horses regain consciousness on slaughter lines after they are hanging. The captive-bolt is ineffective at rendering them senseless and they are routinely shot in the head multiple times before their vivisection for harvesting is completed. Animal advocates are outraged over this because of the extremity of this barbaric practice. This is evidenced in the following video, as well as many that can be found on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwPqh43_NkM. And here is the law: http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/07C48.txt.

    The specific fact that equines commonly have to be struck multiple times with the captive-bolt, or shotgun, is what makes commercial horse slaughter in the U.S. a clear violation of the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. The meat produced contains dangerous levels of adrenaline and cortisol, in addition to all the prohibited substances and medications given U.S. horses. It’s bad meat and baaad business.

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  9. Rep. Jim Moran is listening to the American public, unlike most of his colleagues. We all appreciate a man -or woman- with guts and integrity.

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  10. Congressman Jim Moran’s email address?? I want to send him a letter thanking him for his efforts & I want to send it to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. I’m going to send Sen. Leahy everything I can until he contacts me to tell me to stop……..& then I’m going to keep sending more until horse slaughter is outlawed once and for all. That’s the only way, folks.

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  11. Someone needs to release all the wild horses and burros already being held so that they are not slaughtered. This is disgusting we are killng them in Mexico for $. Will we have any wild plains animals left?

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  12. This is a travesty to the American way of life. Historically there has been NO slaughterhouse in the entire world to do this painlessly, quick, or without violations. None! The pro-slaughter people are revving up the engines of the factions by stating we are attempting to get rid of MEAT and make everyone be veggie eaters. I am a bonafide meat eater, but when the risks elevate of eating horse meat with ALL the dangerous elements my and family I became seriously on guard and changed our eating habits and store purchases a great deal. What scares me is they will attempt to do this and they are saying they have experience professionals going to do the killing-get this straight-there is NO way ANY ONE in the US can be EXpirienced professionals if they haven’t been open in the US for the past how many years, these people were already so BAD at their job they were shut down and to take the training if they don’t kill horses, which, think about it how do they get trained people? Kill some horses…so does that mean they have already started doing it ? or are they just getting trained in procedure and when they open that’s their professional help ready to go? Maybe cattle killers who have no experience killing a horse which is many times more difficult? So what I want to have our government ponder as Moran is grasping for help and Vilsack is doing what he is legally able to do…why would we offer sacrificial horses to die at the hands of people just learning this process? Why are we making these animals suffer more? What they accomplished in Ok they are saying that horse owners and anti-cruelty people are terrorists, that’s sad, now Mrs. McNeil is allegedly getting threats and they are all hiding behind these publicity stories. So what we want to do is be aware that when the pro-slaughter people are hundred dollar bills out of their mouths we have to put as many emails, phone calls, and positive comments out there as horse owners as we can. Also be very aware there are rescues that are stating that they are in a hurry to adopt the slaughterhouses, so they are actually going to take horses to slaughter, which enables them to be killer buyers who can take horses from homes, mark them for death, and seal the deal. So its a haunting picture of what’s to come for America’s horses, as for the BLM mustangs there’s no expression for the amount of weight that has come onto those animals. They have never been in a home, respected and loved, sawdust and grained and a foreign owned company wants to put them in cans. This is a sick way to treat our history. Millions are contributed to save buildings from where some American was born, or lived once, or shot a gun, and so on and on. Why is it so hard? Futher more the Ranchers and Cattlemen who want the lands for their cows and want the Mustangs gone, they wont stop until every creature is dead. This is really the first nail in the coffin for all other animals. I pray for these animals. I also want to point out we have a lot of people who over the years wanted mustangs to adopt and we would here about the roundup by the time it was over, the lack of publicity and the gangle of killer buyers already hawking the horses from other people we couldn’t get our hands on them. They would spread rumors about them being so dangerous and such-I train for a living and anything that has not really been handled in a positive way or limited touching needs to have a moment to regroup taking patience that you really have to have, not a fake wait and then hurry up kind of patience. So they kept people from traveling to buy them. Its been a façade that they have always controlled the horses, the more the killer buyers get to choose from. So I hope everyone is very serious about supporting the SafeAct We need it.

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  13. We need Congressman Moran to stand strong for all of us in this time of complete and utter chaos in our Government. I seems to me we have so few politicians willing to fight for the truthful rights of our wild horses, burros and animals in general. It is time to make our stand and I repeat WE WILL NOT STAND FOR HORSES TO BE SLAUGHTERED, TRANSPORTED, ROUNDED UP. WE WILL FIGHT LIKE HELL TO KEEP OUR HORSES FREE.

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  14. Someone needs to come up with a plan on what the BLM can do with the 50,000 wild horses they are holding in pens. I feel that the only reason they are being held is to be sent directly to the slaughterhouses once they are open for business. We need creative solutions to that issue or I fear they will be the first to be shipped to the nightmare that keeps many of us awake all night. The rescues are overloaded and underfunded already. Let’s put our creative minds together and come up with something our legislators can “run” with…

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    • Defund the BLM, save money there. They round up burros and horses and now we have a ton in pens…let them out and let them be free. It would be an outrage if they all went to slaughter. There was no reason for them to be rounded up in the first place

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  15. The SAFE act is a great start, but won’t be the total solution. Greed will still drive people to use the meat in pet foods, or any other use that makes a profit. We need to realize too, that the oil pipeline is behind a lot of the BLM’s “round ups”. What is our nation going to do about that issue?

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  16. From the above letter from Congressman Moran:
    “I also appreciate your support for a “third way” solution for unwanted horses rather than slaughtering them for human consumption”

    can anyone tell me what the “third way” solution for unwanted horses refers to?

    Like

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