Horse Health

EWA Pres: “Is the horse slaughter battle over?”

Open Letter from John Holland ~ President of Equine Welfare Alliance

“We must continue to work toward a federal law to remove equines from the food chain forever…”

Dear EWA member,

President of the Equine Welfare Alliance ~ John Holland

President of the Equine Welfare Alliance ~ John Holland

I like to take this opportunity each year to let you know what we think we can expect in the New Year. First, there is no doubt that 2014 was the year of the horse and there is a very real potential for 2015 to mark the end of the slaughter of US horses! The two big developments were, as you know, the inspections defunding and the EU ban on Mexican horse meat derived largely from US horses.

Inspections defunding

Last year at this time, we were facing the threat of up to four horse slaughter houses opening in the US, but I told you that it was not going to happen. I knew that to be true because Victoria McCullough and Joseph Abruzzo had kept us informed for months on the progress of the spending bill, but for obvious reasons we could not disclose anything until it was a done deal. We also told you that defunding would last through at least the 2015 budget, which it has.

An apology

In last year’s message, I also said that I thought Blair Dunn (attorney for Valley Meats) knew that his client’s dream of opening a horse slaughter house in New Mexico was fading fast and that some of the strange statements he had made in the press were merely posturing to position his client to sue for damages over being delayed.

Shortly thereafter Mr. Dunn sent me an email threatening to sue me for liable over that statement. I now realize that I was mistaken, and that Mr. Dunn was neither as knowledgeable nor as clever as I had assumed him to be and that my speculation that his posturing was a result of either quality was totally unfounded. I wish to take this opportunity to apologize for that error.

If there are any doubts that D’Allende Meats, the latest incarnation of Valley Meats, is destined to meet a similar fate, consider this. Even if inspections funding was to be restored, and even if they got a discharge permit, and even if the USDA gave them a grant of inspection (all unlikely in the near future), the USDA itself is not certified to inspect for the EU and they would have very limited market opportunities. Worse, the EU is now aware that the US has no system of traceability on drugs administered to horses and their ban on Mexican horse meat was as much about US horses as it was about Mexican slaughter.

The EU ban on Mexican horse meat

Finally, the EU has listened and taken action banning the import of US horse meat from Mexico, albeit a decade after first being contacted about serious food safety and humane issues.

While inspections funding and the lack of discharge permits kept the US plants from opening, the announcement from the EU that they would not accept horse meat from Mexico after 1/15/2015 has several impacts. It should drive down Mexican slaughter of our horses, and it is a fantastic card to play in the politics of Washington and elsewhere.

As we all know, Mexico has customers for its horse meat other than the EU. So we all wanted to know what percentage of their horse meat goes to non-EU countries. We are very fortunate to have great researchers who prefer to avoid the limelight. One obtained records of all horse meat sent by ship, and just recently the other was able to navigate the labyrinthine web sites of the Mexican government and obtain the totals for sea and air exports.

We found that only about 22% of their total recent exports have been going to non-EU countries. The largest is Russia with about 13.2% (When we had only the seaborne trade numbers, this number looked like about 6.6%). Interestingly, the next largest customer is Vietnam with 6.2%. This was a surprise and is almost identical to the percentage that France had been importing. Switzerland is next with about 5.3%.

There has been a lot of speculation about China, but they accounted for less than 1%, though Hong Kong was taking about 4%.

We expect that Mexico will be forced to drop its prices to attract more customers if they hope to make up their shortfall. We have found that Canadian plants like Natural Valley lost money for several years before throwing in the towel, so it may take a while to know what their new business model will look like. Meanwhile, we will track the exports and find ways to warn the remaining foreign consumers of what the EU/FVO found in their audits.

The next shoe to drop will be Canada. There is speculation that horse meat from Canada may also be banned, though there is a possibility that they will impose astrict 6 month quarantine. Quarantine would, however, not bring Canada up to the standards the EU places on its member country suppliers since some drugs (e.g. phenylbutazone) are banned from ever being given to a food animal. All of these measures will at the very least make the business much less profitable, and if anything less than a ban is imposed, we must expect the cheating that has been the rule with the EIDs (Equine Identification Documents) to continue.

Is the horse slaughter battle over?

No, we cannot assume that it is over, but with the strategic use of a powerful public relations firm to get the facts and the EU’s decision into the media,this may well be the beginning of the end. Now is the best possible time for slaughter to end as I explained in my recent article in New Zealand Horse Talk magazine.

We will be watching the number of horses going to Mexico closely, as well as Mexico’s exports of horse meat. We must also continue to work toward a federal law to remove equines from the food chain forever.

What can we expect from the pro-slaughter side?

We think that we can expect the pro-slaughter folks to go back to their play book of spreading stories about how the sky is falling without horse slaughter. When the US plants were closed in 2007, they started a campaign to publicize stories of abandonment and neglect.

In 2007 advocates undertook a major research project, fact checking every story in every state and found every article was either a complete fabrication or a mammoth distortion. We published a document called “Deleting the Fiction” (see also the full report) in which we documented what we found and the sources we used. I have to say, the Associated Press was the worst offender. Then as now, they seem totally unwilling to review or retract stories even when they are proven to be completely false. This tells us that we need to have powerful help with our media operations.

Most shockingly, the slaughter supporters even managed to get a deliberately distorted report out of the GAO that misrepresented data out of Colorado to supposedly prove that abuse had gone up 60% after the plants closed. So it would be a mistake to underestimate their reach.

Interestingly, the entire strategy of claiming severe unintended consequences backfired because it deals with equine welfare, not food safety, the issue of most concern to the EU. Even so, it has been their strategy for so long that they will likely continue to use it. We should all watch for these stories and check them out. If they are false, we need to have our PR machine respond quickly to get the facts into major news outlets.

I can say that 2015 promises to be an exciting year, and we intend to work harder than ever. The successes of the past year were not the exclusive work of one group or another. They were the result of all of us all working together. Keep up the great work.

And sadly we must go forward without one of the most effective legislators ever to champion animal welfare, Jim Moran. We all owe him a debt of gratitude and wish him the best in his retirement.

In closing, let me paraphrase what Chris Hedges said about fascists. We don’t fight horse slaughter because we think we will win. We fight horse slaughter because it is horse slaughter. In the end we will win this fight because we will accept no other outcome.

Happy New Year,

John Holland, President

Click (HERE) to download in PDF format

24 replies »

  1. We cannot even for a minute stop or let up on saving our Mustangs , they belong without question !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Dear geri, we all have to sleep with one eye kept open…………………………………..Never let down the guard not even for a minute ever…………………………..


  2. can anyone tell me why the safe act has not been passed yet ? with all the republicans over powering both houses , does this mean that we will be heard a little better then we have been in the past? with this new congress can we expect better service from the dept of int. mainly the b.l.m.. we want to be heard.


    • Cindy, the SAFE ACT cannot get out of committee. In the main this is because the GOP head of the Agricultural Committee from Oklahoma District 3 is against ending horse slaughter. There are many reported horse haters in Congress including Harry Reid who has been the Senate majority leader and is now the minority leader. Additionally, the House was the least productive body ever in our entire history so they passed almost no bills, period. It is not going to change but rather will likely get worse as the majority of the SAFE co-sponsors have been Democrats and now, as you say, both houses are Republican ruled. Not good for the horses. Sorry, as you appear to be a Republican so this may not sit well with you. I suggest you learn how it all works as soon as possible if you really care about ending horse slaughter.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The one factor that I have strong concerns to watch is the uninspected….unregulated…unprotected horse meat for zoos under Allende. This is where my battle in the horse meat industry originated. In the 1980s my grandfather had begun the argument with the BLM searching as a private citizen for answers. He pressed the plants in the US for answers. Especially when the issues of the Dekalb plant became grossly obvious. I published my argument in the local papers against the use of horses for zoos and pets. The lawsuits in the deaths of literally thousands of pets and breeding top notch rated dogs and cats devastating pet owners and caretakers and nearly wiping out the cat show industry. The action to BAN use of horsemeat in pet food wasa landmark quality but still offemding pet food companies snuck it in killing Americas pets again. The Allende company is a pilot idea to open in the way Bravo had….deceptive and under the radars protective watch. Theres no check of contaminates or drugs and worse because Allende will NOT be checking for human consumption standards (as if that exists). The lack of oversight required allows them to get away with for lack of a better word Murder. The Environmental impact issues can still stop them however we have to remain vigilant. One wain or one small relunctance to believe they will sneak itin they will use. And behind all the stories debunked and lies perpetuate these proslaughter people are actually planning and making changes that are Destructive to the future. I have noticed they have been rewriting the definitions online of Bute and have been getting changes to the Veterinary guides to establish a new clearer platform for their future argument. These folks are constantly working to pull out the largest deception of all. They are changing interneta published vet guides to make claims the horse meat is safe and chemical withdrawal periods in 2015 and forward articles and vet med manuals affirm the false claim of safety. They merely change the script to read their way such as they habe eith the wikipedia definition of horsemeat the only difference is….that can be repaired. The GAO report is one of a fraction of the false changes planned amd now going into print. The fact is…..they are NOT as lax or stupid as we often percieve them however behind the scenes these folks are developing HARD core deceptions and if you look at the BLM and question why? You will understand this is all parts of a larger mission. I deny them the commission of this deceptive without notice and constantly fact check. Keep in mind its a front they hold up for the public and whats Behind the front is very real…very dark…and very hard at work.


    • I believe there is an active horse slaughter plant in Nebraska – using “zoo meat” as their cover-up. You can see this slaughter plant on google earth and even see some horses in their pens.

      THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION. THIS NOTICE IS FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. For the proposed contract action the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only the following designated source under the authority of FAR 6.302-1. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexican Wolf Recover Plan, Region 2, intends to issue a sole source award utilizing Simplified Acquisition Procedures to Central Nebraska Packing, Inc., North Platte, Nebraska for the purchase of approximately 1,000 cases of Classic carnivore diet meat logs. The Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan provides carnivore logs to captive Mexican Wolves as well as for wolves in the wild. Central Nebraska Packing is American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) approved and uses only USDA certified horse meat. The Central Nebraska Packing Classic Canine Diet carnivore logs meet all the nutritional needs of the Mexican gray wolf. Central Nebraska is the only vendor who offers this type of product. The applicable North American Industrial Classification System Code (NAICS) code for this supply item is 311119, with a standard of 500. This notice of intent is not a request for competitive quotations. However, The Government will consider all responses received by September 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM Mountain Time. All responses must be in writing and are to be sent via email to the point of contact specified in this notice. The Government will not be responsible for any cost incurred in preparation of quotations. A determination by the Government not to compete this is based upon the responses to this notice is solely within the discretion of the Government. Information received will normally be considered solely for the purpose of determining whether to conduct a subsequent competitive procurement. All interested parties may submit a response for consideration via email to Lisa Rodriguez,

      Contract Specialist, email:
      Reference number: F14PS01280
      Issue date: 08/30/2014
      Response due: 09/08/2014 05:00 PM ET
      Set Aside: Total Small Business
      NAICS: 311119-Other Animal Food Manufacturing
      PSC / FSC: 8710-FORAGE & FEED
      Agency: DOI
      Contracting office:

      P.O. BOX 1306
      500 GOLD AVENUE SW
      ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87102-3118


      • The idea behind Allende opening a.Zoo meat front is toearn enough profit to bankroll a new run to reopen for consumption for humans. The idea is to open for zoomeat then to show they have no issues and play by the rules in order to gain trust and discredit our attempt to close them. Once they open for zoo meat then they will establish a Demand for outside the EU regulated counties that would allow them to pressure to open for free trade purposes. The intention is for them to provide an open free trade avenue with zoo meat and Force the Free trade agreement to Allow outsourcing for human consumption. Thats where the Real money is. The fact remains the strategy is get the door open. No other company selling for zoo meat has attempted human consumption and wont bc they are waiting for the first plant to get a human consumption deal approved and I gaurantee they will transition to become human consumption as well. Allende is a strategic position more than a company. The idea was to use his ethnicity and small business owner approach and then when that failed they jumped to safe to eat healthy food for poor people. We have abandonment of horses….starvation and neglect and abuse as excuses to open. The fact is there are several zoo meat oprations in the US and this is Not a recent discovery they have popped up here and there over the years. The thing is people do not realize what really happens. Maybe people do not understand these horses are also tortured and hauled horribly but under the radar. The reason the Santos situation is different is their zoo meat horses are only a vehicle to get to the free trade protections and deceptively open human consumption again. The way they are doing it is indirect so we have a harder time stopping it until the Safe Act is passed. The fact is they are intelligent enough to do this deception in phases so later they connect the dots and make it appear they lucked into it. Im just saying we need to use extreme caution. And A word to the wise…..Google Earth is helpful but it still doesnt see into the buildings to see the cruelties. Can u imagine horses butchered without Government oversight? It was mortifying with it.


      • I believe you are correct.
        And this solicitation for horse meat is for USDA certified horse meat – yes USDA certified horse meat – something that many of us thought was no longer in existence.
        Their website:

        I am not a carnivore expert but is there any reason that other meats would not be appropriate to feed carnivore zoo animals? I know the manager for a small zoo (with carnivores) and they do NOT USE HORSE MEAT.


      • So just how do they get away with saying USDA certified when no funding for horse inspections exists? “Central Nebraska Packing is American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) approved and uses only USDA certified horse meat.”


  4. The way I understand it horse meat fed to zoo’s big cats is killing them. If that is the case I can’t imagine the management feeding it to any of their animals. Also I wonder if not funding horse meat inspections cover a plant that sells theirs to zoo’s?


  5. Mr. Holland, thank you for this outstanding letter/report. Very much appreciated. Solid data that we have come to count on from you. Best of all is your ‘apology’. Iread it several minutes ago, and I’m still laughing out loud.


  6. The name of this article is “”Is the battle for horse slaughter over?”
    The article I found this morning says they are going another direction–trying to convince the public to put horse meat on the menu here. Remember a while back the article that only 60% of the people in America were American’s. Well since our open border policy , that number has surly climbed and these people come from countries that eat horse meat –we had better keep our eye on this being their next approach to our get rid of horses.


    • Thank you this aticle, Geri. You are officially part of the majestic PR team in place to get the ban. Everyone please take a moment to speak to the truth by commenting on the article, if comments are allowed. Otherwise, write to the editor.

      I am pasting John’s wonderful words as the inspiration: “We should all watch for these stories and check them out. If they are false, we need to have our PR machine respond quickly to get the facts into major news outlets.”


      • JAN—–I just looked in on the article to see some comments–and Thank You for your well spoken responses–it was 121 comments when I left—and as you can see we will have to stay vigilant, because they will convince these fools in a heartbeat.


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