New EU Regulations May Destroy Canadian Horse Slaughter Scourge

published on News of the Horse

“In 2015, 44,730 horses were exported to Canada from the United States for slaughter…”

The European Union has issued new guidelines for the Canadian horse slaughter industry that many believe will devastate the industry.  Starting March, 2017, all horses must remain in Canada at a feedlot for 6 months prior to being slaughtered if the meat is to be sold to Europe.  The EU states the holding time is crucial as North American horses receive drugs not approved for use in meat destined for humans.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the ruling with reporters.  “(CFIA) received a letter from the European Commission on Sept. 28, 2016, advising Canada that the European Union is implementing six months residency requirements.  Effective Feb. 28, 2017, the CFIA will only provide certificates for the export of horse meat to the European Union that meet the EU’s new six month residency requirement.”

The Canadian government has been working with the industry since receiving notification of the new requirements.  “The government understands the serious impact the EU measure of a 180-day holding period will have on exports. In 2015, Canada exported $36.8 million of horse meat to the EU,” the CFIA told reporters.

In 2015, 44,730 horses were exported to Canada from the United States for slaughter.  By contrast,  nearly 85,000 were shipped to Mexico for slaughter.  Animal welfare activists worry that with the Canadian horse slaughter industry under such tight restrictions by the EU, more horses will be shipped to Mexico, where the slaughter industry is largely unregulated and less humane than Canada.

38 comments on “New EU Regulations May Destroy Canadian Horse Slaughter Scourge

    • It just means they will now all go to horrific Mexico (longer trip–more horrific ending) and the push will be greater to open horse slaughter again in U.S. Keep in mind which party has been pushing to expedite the removal of the Wild Mustangs and has been in charge of the BLM for the last 8 years on November 8th.

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      • Not necessarily. In fact, unless EU lifts the ban on Mexican horsemeat with no additional conditions hindering the trade, it is not likely that most (some will of course) of those horses will end up in Mexico. This is because Mexico is already at max capacity for the possible outlets they have for horsemeat, which is principally domestic demand of cheap meat and export inter-Americas by means of food fraud, as evidenced by the fact the number of horses shipped to Mexico continues to decrease inter-year, albeit at a much reduced pace of what we’ve been observing since 2015.

        In this regard, it seems that live horse prices for the Mexican market are approaching the break even point, particularly after the strong devaluation of the Mexican peso experienced since the oil prices began to fall in Q4 2014. For killer buyers to ship to Mexico they need to make a profit, otherwise they will move away to ship cattle or stay at home living off their wives. If what the plants pay barely covers their operation costs then there is no point in continuing in the business. The plants are more than happy to take horses even at cheaper prices (the cheaper the better) but if they have to fork out more pesos becuase the dollar is strong they won’t be interested at all.

        In fact, an hypothetical massive (and extremely unlikely) revaluation of the dollar (which equals to a devaluation of other currencies) might very well put all killers out of business, but it may kill all but a few American exports of any kind.

        As for opening new plants in the US, this is unlikely since:

        a) Currently it is illegal to sell any horsemeat produced in the US (domestic, in-house consumption is legal though)

        b) The primary market for the meat produced in the US plants up until Sept. 2007 was the European market, as some exports to Mexico, which were shipped to the filials of the EU companies there (so they were not real sales). It is also very unlikely that any new plant opening in the US will get EU approval and business opportunities in other non-EU markets are next to none since their demand is already fully covered by other, cheaper suppliers like Argentina or Brazil. And no, Russia won’t touch anything made in the US for political reasons.

        c) To make a successful landing in non-EU markets, the US plants will have to drop prices so much that they won’t be competitive anymore. This essentially would require a massive, across-the-board fall in US wages (which might be the case if Trump wins though) to make them as competitive as developing countries where working conditions are substandard.

        d) The Mexican plants now rely heavily on domestic demand of meat at very cheap prices, which they are able to produce since horses imported are cheaper than finished prime beef. They won’t be importing meat from the US unless the price drops substantially (bringing the plants to financial collapse, which is not the first time it happens, see the Valley Meat Inc case in Canada) or peso suffers and extremely unlikely revaluation against the dollar, or costs in the US drop so hard to make them comparable to developing countries.

        e) New US plants don’t have supply chains in Mexico, which is even more corporatist that the States (meaning a more solid control of the market by fewer companies that protect their own interests), particularly in rural and poorer areas.

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    • Mexican horsemeat exports to EU member states are banned since January 15, 2015 and that didn’t change so no requirement for Mexican horses.

      However, there is word that SAGARPA is negotiating with the Comission lifting the ban. If they do, then US horses will also be required this in all likeliness.

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      • Thanks for the info, Daniel. I remember reading a ban was in place but also that several cargo shipments were found soon after heading towards Europe.

        What effect (if any) will Brexit have on this legislation?

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      • Hi Ici,

        Yes, there were at least illegal six shipments detected since March 2015 but overall, according to official records, shipments almost ceased completely. However, there are still regular shipments of stuff reported as animal byproducts which are not covered by the ban.

        Generally speaking the ban is largely observed save when they seem to be running short of supply somewhere else. At least that’s what we can extrapolate based on the data available.

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      • Regarding your question on the Brexit, once UK ceases being an member state it will have to apply for a third country export authorization similar to Canada or Mexico.

        UK imports very, very little horsemeat, it essentially covers its own internal demand (which is very small) and then imports a moderately small amount to EU countries, principally France (60 to 90 tons monthly).

        When the May government enforces the Brexit clause (it is still part of EU), exports to EU countries will cease until UK applies for a third country permit, following submission of a third country residue monitoring plan, assorted documentation and an initial audit.

        UK may be able to import meat from non-approved EU third countries like Mexico without any other restriction that those imposed by the crackpotish May government but, again, they will not be able to reexport it to EU legally. The importer will have to change the label and commit fraud. And, even if not part of the EU, crime is taken seriously in UK, particularly after the horsemeat scandal.

        In other words, the Brexit won’t have a particularly relevant effect on the Americas-based international horsemeat trade, save for perhaps build up the pressure on the French horsemeat distributors to find enough EU-approved supply at a reasonable price in EU states and Argentina, Brazil and, particularly Canada, which is their main supplier due to cultural ties and affordable price.

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  1. Shared with my comment: Wow! This new Canadian Horse Slaughter regulation will require all imported horses to Canada to remain for 6 months at a feedlot before being slaughtered. Good news for our work to #EndHorseSlaughter. However many of our Pacific Northwest and Montana, Colorado, well all states, especially LA, TX have been shipping horses to Mexico for slaughter because Mexico has far more lenient restrictions…

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  2. This is great and will hurt a lot in the pocket the Canadian horse killers. However, I’m sure they are concocting with CFIA some way to elude this or make the warehousing records credible to auditors while not really warehousing them. We need to keep a close eye to this, monitor any regulation change they propose to cope with these new requirements and anticipate to their movements.

    The key of the horse slaughter business is that they are killing animals that are not intended for human consumption at prices way lower of what prime beef usually fetches at the kill floor… so theoretically they won’t stand for long if they have to pay upkeep for six months while maintaining horsemeat prices at current levels. If forced to pay gold the killers will simply opt to supply from EU member states at EU prices.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is great and I think it will hurt a lot in the pocket the Canadian horse killers. However, I’m sure they are concocting with CFIA some way to elude this or make the warehousing records credible to auditors while not really warehousing them, which will provide them two more years of horse killing till the next audit while they patch their sinking business with more lies and phony documents. We need to keep a close eye on this, monitor any regulation change they propose in Canada to cope with these new requirements and anticipate to their movements by offering legal challenges.

    The key of the horse slaughter business is that they are killing animals that are not intended for human consumption at prices lower of what prime beef usually fetches at the kill floor… so theoretically they won’t stand for long if they have to pay upkeep for six months while maintaining horsemeat prices at current levels… unless they transfer that cost to the end consumer, but I don’t really think they have much leeway to do that without sales dropping. If forced to pay gold the killers will simply opt to supply from EU member states at EU prices (and there are some EU countries that are quite poor, like Romania or Bulgaria, meaning corporatist governments, low wages, precarious work conditions and low cost, being thus prime candidates to host more plants). The key thus is whether this will be cheaper or not than EU, Argentina o Brazil. That’s the only critical factor that will tell what will happen starting next February.

    The first time this surfaced I tried to look for the legislation implementing the new rules but had no luck (it seemed they haven’t published it then).

    Also, we need to highlight that, although these new regulations come from EU, the Commission is shooting itself in its collective foot, since the six-month warehousing thingy comes from a bad interpretation of European legislation (Regulation EU 37/2010) from industry, resulting from mixing it up with another legislation (Regulation EU 1950 / 2006) that also applies but does not supersede or override the other, which is also newer. Unless they modified it all and they are only requiring now the six-month warehousing think!

    Since I have an old .ppt on this that comes pretty handy -and I’m short of time tonight- I’m just pasting a screenshot that illustrates this.

    Such a shame they do not know their own stuff.

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    • Daniel, unfortunately there are in Canada feedlot operations which raise horses from birth for the slaughter market, so this part of the industry may in fact increase to meet demand. People selling breeding stock to Canada may want to take that into account.

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      • Yes, as there are also in the EU. The thing is the price, it is uneconomical for the plants to move to this system without impacting heavily their bottom lines. If they have to start breeding horses like cows for the price they better move to EU and save the hassle of all the EID/ECD phony scheme and do foal meat only. Wages and costs in Romania and Bulgaria are lower than in Canada… those guys don’t have Canadian lifestyles.

        There is also a problem with certain markets / customers that ask for redder meat that comes from adult horses only. Horses are more expensive to feed and care for long periods, they grow up and mature more slowly and require more “finishing” time than heifers and beef.

        The horsemeat industry was built on the “recycling” of unfit for human consumption animals discarded by the sport horse industry… and previously (before the full mechanization of transports and farm equipment in the first quarter / half of the 20th century) from work animals that were injured or too weak to work anymore. They are not the typical country dudes that raise beef or have a dairy farm.

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    • Good points, Daniel. I would add that costs in Canada will be higher not only due to the “lifestyle” but the climate. Even where I live livestock have to be fed hay at least six months a year. If they are pregnant or unsheltered it takes ever more feed (and labor) to keep them thriving.

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  4. I hope this puts a dent in the amount of horses slaughtered. If they can not ship to Canada will more ship to Mexico? I just want this whole ugliness to come to an end and for the bastards that do this to go broke!

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  5. I think here in Canada … there will be many ‘meat buyers’ effected. As in can’t afford to do this anymore (really good thing). However those that have ‘land/pens’ & the $$ to feed horses for 180 days, will most likely carry on. Here is what I’m really interested in…horses sold at many auctions may now have to have that ‘proof of Sale’ & required to hand it over. In other words NOT leaving the kill buyer being the only one to ”sign off’ on this document! A meat buyer saying ”Oh yeah, I’ve owned this horse for 6 mos.” just doesn’t cut it. These guys will look for every loop hole they can find….lie, lie, lie! The CFIA (if they do their job) has their work cut out for them!!!

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    • This is correct. Further, it should be noted that while EU is big, it is not the sole market the Canadian killers have. In fact, the leading customer for already cut Canadian horsemeat is Japan. France comes next followed since Q3 2015 by Belgium with not particularly large shipments (typically half of what they imported from Mexico).Switzerland is the other European country that sources heavily from Canada, but already cut orders by a third since January.

      Just like the Mexican EU ban didn’t result in the total cessation of live horse exports to Mexico, this won’t put all the killers in Canada out of business, specially if CFIA finds a way to let make a way around the new rules (likely by continuing not to enforce penalties for forging the EID/ECDs and laundering at official level all imported horses as born in Canada).

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      • Looking forward, if demand drops there will still be unwanted horses to consider, and how. Over time we can hope overbreeding will stop, as will the “disposable horse” industry. One suggestion I’ve made over the years is for horse people to pay a 10 cents (or some realistic value here) fee per 50 lbs. of feed purchased, and for those funds to be pooled to allow for a public horse cemetery in every state that opts in. The idea is that horse owners would have a low or no cost option to bury an old or ill horse, in a location they could always visit and in which they could leave a marker etc. It would require a bit of organization but would soon enough empty the kill pens at auctions all over the US. It would also end the suffering of both the horses involved and their owners, who often have no better options today.

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      • That’s a good idea for the short to mid term future, although I anticipate the impact of this ban may not be as big as expected, judging by our experience with the EU Mexico ban.

        Also, according to economic theory, ideally in the long run market forces will act on the excess offer of horses and discourage overbreeding, hence reducing the number of horses available and driving their price up, which would make very difficult for certain segments of the population to own them in the first place. For this to work best, law enforcement needs to take neglect seriously and impose penalties so strong that act as deterrants for breeding.

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      • Daniel, I hope you are right, but my experience with large breeders is they have the land and the broodmares, so aim to produce one foal each year per mare regardless, then weed out the foals to get top dollar for the best and get rid of the rest before investing a lot in training or raising them. If you are looking for highest market value you have to increase the odds of producing that top product, and that means more breeding. Since the horse racing industry produces a high percentage of horses ending up in slaughter, even then they are often still young horses who have just enough training to run a few races to see if they are any good before being sold.

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      • I’m sure this largely correct, it is basic economic theory that has been proven time and again to work. But we need to make some clarifications and take it for what it is: an overly simplified model that serves as a general reference.

        The problem here is that I’m talking about numbers, about trends, limits and incentives, not necessarily about what’s more ethical or moral.This is not a magical solution that will save everybody immediately but rather will take many years until we see the effects and the path will be rather grueling.

        Breeding will continue, slaughter will continue and abuse will continue, but we will see changes in trends converging to less breeding and a reduction of slaughter numbers, together with a raise in prices that, hopefully, may make impossible for less economically-capable people to own horses, meaning less chances of overbreeding (and less neglect cases each time there is a hike in hay prices) and rendering the slaughter business unprofitable for the plants, since horses will be significantly more expensive to buy and they don’t have much leeway to transfer that increment of costs to the end consumer.

        Of course, if this were to happen during a several years horse prices will crash and it we will see horses dumped at auction at ultra-cheap prices that nobody or few will want.

        Existing plants will be glad to take them for their non-EU markets, namely Japan, Vietnam and US, at even more cheap prices, meaning more $$$ for them. It could be that this reduction in prices makes them temporarily more competitive than Argentina, Brazil or Mexico, and perhaps Japanese and Vietnamese customers will prefer to buy Canadian at cheaper prices… who knows. And, of course, judging by how the whole EID/ECD scheme worked for them I guess that shipments to EU will more or less continue by means of documentary fraud, some more $$$ for the plants

        However, conforming breeders find that they are recouping less and less of their costs by culling their herds at auction they will be faced with three possible options:

        a) Shot or euthanize their excess horses on the farm, which still will be far more ethical and humane than the slaughter pipeline.

        b) Abandon their excess horses to die, like if they were puppy mills (they actually are!), in whose case we need serious law enforcement to act as deterrent for such a practice and breeding/ownership in general, as I said before.

        c) Breed less, adjusting them to the demand for the animals they produce, or shut down or downscale their operations.

        And frankly, if their businesses revolves around mass production and churning babies like sausages in a pork factory, they really should quit and dedicate themselves to the manufacture cheap consumer electronics, of the kind made today in China. Either that or society accepts as a whole that it is OK to discard these animals like if they were made-in-China cheap toys.

        This is something that is widely know by scholars, check for example the technology vs jobs dilemma. We are in a turning point and the economic model of developed countries not only must, but is already shifting from mass production to efficiency. We cannot keep mass producing stuff like if we were in the 1950s. Contemporary economy no longer works that way…

        Chances are that, as usual, both the EU regulations and any attempt to reduce slaughter numbers through economic or fiscal policy will be resisted by large breeders who will look for ways to keep the slaughter pipeline open by influencing legislators to relax regulations, since these basically requires them to drop their current outdated mass-production model and shift to a more efficient, technologically advanced one. And, to be frank, the most likely scenario is that they have their way.

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  6. I am of course very happy to hear this. But this would be extremely difficult to enforce. They could just say “Yup, this horse has been at my feedlot for 6 months. How would anyone be able to disprove? The only way to enforce would be a third party would have to document with pictures and microchips each and every horse. I am praying that is possible, but have serious doubts

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  7. Saving America’s Wild Horses

    With drumming hooves, they come running.
    With tails flagged high, they come running,
    With flowing manes, they come running.
    With flared nostrils, they come running.

    Oh, what a glorious sight!

    Clouds of prairie dust mark their passing.
    The scent of crushed sage comes drifting.
    Glistening hides in sunlight, reflecting.
    Separated mares and exhausted foals nickering.

    Oh, what a careening flight!

    What would cause this reckless running?
    Over rocky hills, unshod hooves come crashing.
    Older horses lose their footing
    Lathered sweat whitely spraying.

    Oh, what a panicked flight!

    Exhausted, on splayed legs, with sides heaving
    Too spent to nicker at their mothers’ leaving
    Foals collapse, roiling dust enshrouding
    From the chopper blades’ wild whirling.

    Oh, what a tragic flight!

    The strong ones lead, the rest conforming
    As they heed the fences’ hazing
    Into the catch pens’ terminating
    Rails forcing a bewildered milling.

    Oh, what an end to their flight!

    Looking for lost foals, mares pacing
    Bloated bags with warm milk dripping
    A mute and painful weeping
    O’er the Truth so horrifying.

    Innocence, a victim of their flight.

    Stallions answer Nature’s calling
    Rearing, striking, biting, screaming
    Close-quarter conflicts inciting
    Instinctive challenges contesting

    The bloody purpose of their flight.

    Growing herds expanded grazing
    Might harm the desert tortoise feeding
    Politicians paid for by Big Oil, Big Mining
    Approved detailed plans for exterminating.

    Greed, the “No Exit” signage of their flight.

    Some spend months in metal pens confining
    Forgotten, rains ease their frantic thirsting
    Thousand rib and hip bones testifying
    Slow starvation caused their dying.

    Human error the Reaper’s demise of their flight.

    Too few selected for public adopting
    Wild Horse Protection Act ignoring
    Auctioned prices climbing, ever rising
    The “Killer Man” nods and ends the bidding.

    One final sorting changes the nature of their flight.

    Steel trailers travel south to border crossings
    Squeezed into plywood crates, foreboding
    Bewildered captives endure hours of flying
    No hay or water to ease their silent suffering.

    Japan’s slaughter houses, the destination of their flight.

    Electric prods keep dazed mustangs moving
    On slimy steel, hooves slipping, horses falling
    They’re lined up, wild eyed with nostrils snorting
    At the stench of filth and hot blood flowing.

    The Kill Box, the vile termination of their flight.

    Spinal cords severed by Ice-pick stabbings
    Strong legs collapse to the sounds of groaning
    Hind legs wrapped in chains are lifting
    Through cut throats, life’s blood is draining

    Can glazed eyes see their souls take flight?

    Wild burros, horses, mules trapped for Federal culling
    Race horses, ponies, trotters too old for sports or breeding
    Loyalty, trust unnoticed in the equine steaks now steaming
    As patrons of foreign dining enjoy their gourmet gorging.

    Ignorant of the bloody, heinous outcome of their flight.

    Horses carried men in battle, no beribboned medal dying,
    Pulled prairie schooners across the plains unending
    Built railroads, carried mail, plowed fields for planting
    In Arlington, proudly paraded veterans to their final resting.

    We must preserve, forever, the freedom of their flight.

    With drumming hooves, they come running.
    With tails flagged high, they come running,
    With flowing manes, they come running.
    With flared nostrils, they come running.

    Oh, what a thundering, glorious sight!
    © June 2, 2016 by Janice E. Mitich
    Picture Rock, AZ

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  8. This is inhumane to say the very least! All WILD HORSES deserve better than this!!! This is a life of Hell NOT a HORSES natural normal rightful life!! No more grazing& running FREE!!?? SHAME ON ANYONE THAT COULD TAKE THEM OFF THEIR OWN LANDS& PLAN TO HARM OR KILL THESE MAJESTIC AMAZING TREASURES!! So grow some compassion return THEM to freedom. As they were meant to BE!!!!! They shoudnt be in these ” pre-KILL PEN PRISON CELLS!!!! THE EVIL MONSTERS THAT TOOK THEM TO KILL THEM SHOULD BE PERIOD!!! Retire if U think death is any type of RESOLUTION 4 these blessings!!! DESERVE

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  9. The poem catches all the drama, the beauty, the good, the bad and the senselessness of horse slaughter. We will continue to fight to #KeepWildHorsesWild and #EndHorseSlaughter.

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    • BTW, these are not Mexican slaughter numbers, these are just the rate change of live horse exports to Mexico for last week and a comparison to last year. It doesn’t even show numbers at all and it includes all equines, regardless of intended use.

      Actual live horse exports to Mexico are posted weekly at http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/al_ls635.txt or the GATS site each month. Actual Mexican equine slaughter figures must be requested directly to SIAP.

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      • Well good for expanding on the Mexican slaughter horse numbers!!! Just horrible that so many of our USA horses are being shipped on that hellish ride to an inhumane and unjust murder, all for a buck…

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  10. Stop the killing of the horse 🐴 that the west used back than in old west a man would of been hung for killing our stilling a man horse this Brenda to stop now!!!Save The Horses Save them Now!!!!!!!

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