Source: By Karrie Allen as published on the Chatham Courier
For 2 years, but Equine Advocates president says, ‘we are finally on the road to a permanent ban’
CHATHAM, NY — Jan. 17 was a good day for Equine Advocates President and founder Susan Wagner and the hundreds of organizations and supporters who have lobbied to end horse slaughter in the United States. On this day, President Barack Obama signed the $1.1 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, which included language to defund horse meat inspection, thus ending horse slaughter in the United States for two years.
While grateful to Obama for signing the bill, Wagner also thanked Vice President Joseph Biden “for spearheading the effort to insert the language into the Omnibus bill.”
She also credited Florida State Sen. Joseph Abruzzo and equine advocate Victoria McCullough. “It is because of their tireless and dedicated efforts that horse slaughterhouses will be prevented from opening in the U.S.” due to passage of the bill.
In 2012, Wagner hosted the first American Equine Summit at her horse rescue and sanctuary in Chatham with two objectives: To come up with a strategy to reverse the damage done by Congress and move toward a federal ban on horse slaughter and to empower the “80 percenters” who are against horse slaughter and give them the tools to be able to effectively make their voices heard and inspire change. Among the speakers was McCullough, CEO of Chesapeake Petroleum and an accomplished international equestrian.
At this summit, McCullough announced that she would take on the challenge of ending horse slaughter in the United States, stated Wagner. “She took the lead from the experts speaking at the summit, each of whom had invaluable information and experience and helped contribute to the resolution of this hard-fought issue.”
One of the experts was John Holland, president of the Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA), who was also a speaker at the summit. McCullough used much of his research and information from published papers and studies to make her case against horse slaughter to Vice President Biden, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and others in the Executive Branch, noted Wagner.
One such case was the 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that blamed falling horse prices and increased abuse and neglect on the closing of domestic slaughter plants in 2007. Texas and Illinois closed the last three plants in 2007 and that was the last time horses were slaughtered in the United States.
From 2006 through 2010, horse slaughter shifted to Canada and Mexico and exports increased from 148 to 660 percent, according to the GAO report.
“That GAO report was like a fixed race,” commented Wagner.
The EWA and Animal Law Coalition (ALC) set out to prove the report was fraudulent — and they did. “Our EWA research looked state by state at trends in abuse and neglect and at the factors that might have been responsible for the trends, such as unemployment, the rate of slaughter, the price of hay, etc.,” stated Holland in an email. “What we found was that the rate of equine neglect was largely determined by the price of hay and that the price of hay is largely determined long term by land use policies and short term by weather.”
Slaughter proponents used the results from the GAO study to push for the reinstatement of inspections funding, he added, but research by the EWA proved the study “had been completely misrepresented. This became ammunition for reversing the reinstatement.”
According to an EWA press release, funding language was passed by both the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committees in 2013, but neither budget reached the floor for a full vote. It was the key support of Vice President Biden and congressional leaders that pushed for the language in the bill.
McCullough “was the one who made this happen,” Holland stated in the press release. “It was the fact that Victoria … was spending her own fortune without regard for any personal gain that I believe gave her the credibility to accomplish this.”
He later added in his email that McCullough, who had already gained a ban in Florida, felt the information she got at the 2012 summit “showed that slaughter of horses is in no way justified.”…(CONTINUED)