Time to ban horsemeat trade in all of North America, as investigation in Mexico uncovers horse sold as beef

by Wayne Pacelle as published on A Humane Nation

“A new study in six Mexican cities has found horsemeat in nearly 10 percent of meat products that are being sold as beef…”

American horses and burros, both wild and domestic, are NOT food animals. – photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Mexico is forging ahead on animal protection. Earlier this year, its Congress made dogfighting a felony throughout the nation. Mexico City adopted an extraordinary charter on animal protection. A number of major food retailers in Mexico have said they will change their purchasing practices to stop buying eggs and pork from operations that confine hens and pigs in small confinement cages and crates. Our Humane Society International/Mexico office and partner organizations are working hard to keep this important and strategic country trending in the right direction and to also crack down on other abuses of animals.

One of those abuses involves the slaughter of horses for human consumption. A new study in six Mexican cities has found horsemeat in nearly 10 percent of meat products that are being sold as beef or that are not clearly labeled. The samples of meat were collected from common vending points, including butcher shops, supermarkets, street markets, and street stalls.

The study, commissioned by HSI and conducted by researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, also found high levels of a veterinary drug commonly prescribed for horses, clenbuterol, in some raw meat samples. Clenbuterol is not approved for food producing animals, and can be harmful to humans.

The researchers collected 433 samples of cooked and uncooked meat from an assortment of vendors across Mexico, of which nearly 10 percent tested positive for horsemeat. Samples were collected in six cities: Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Pachuca, and San Vicente Chicoloapan. The samples included four types of meat samples (ground meat, regular tacos, crispy tacos, and thin steaks [bistec]) and were either unlabeled or labeled as beef. The samples that tested positive for horsemeat were obtained at informal selling points such as street stalls and markets, and most vendors appeared to be unaware that there was horsemeat in the products they were selling.

Mexico is the second largest horsemeat producer in the world, after China. According to the Mexican Ministry of Trade, between January and August 2017, Mexico exported almost 1,500 tons of horsemeat, worth more than $4 million, to Japan, Russia, and Vietnam. Mexico not only kills thousands of its horses for human consumption each year, but also slaughters tens of thousands of perfectly healthy American horses. U.S. kill buyers acquire working, racing, and companion horses and even children’s ponies and try to make a fast buck by funneling them to horse slaughter plants over the northern and southern borders. Just this year, as of September, kill buyers have shipped more than 60,000 horses to Canada and Mexico to be killed for human consumption.

Horses in the United States are raised as companions and partners in work and sport, and not as food animals. As a result, they are commonly treated with drugs deemed unfit for human consumption. In 2014, the European Commission suspended the import of horsemeat from Mexico to the European Union due to food safety concerns. The HSUS has documented, via undercover footage, the incredible suffering faced by animals: downed, injured horses slaughtered for human consumption despite being ill, horses suffering in export facilities on U.S. soil, and horrific welfare problems during transport. The same drugs would put at risk Mexicans, Canadians, and the Japanese, as well as visitors to those countries and others who would sit down to a horse steak – either knowingly or not. No one is immune from drugs long deemed unfit for human consumption.

Beyond the issue of self-interest and public health, Mexico should not be complicit in this grisly trade, and the United States should not use Mexico as an export market for an enterprise that’s illegal on our soil. The practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption should stop across North America. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 113/S. 1706, which would cement the existing prohibitions on domestic horse slaughter and build on that provision by stopping the export of horses for slaughter abroad, is just one important policy vehicle to help us achieve that goal.

The evidence that we’ve obtained in Mexico reveals that this ugly enterprise is trying to trick Mexican vendors and consumers. It’s a disreputable industry, and the country’s lawmakers should build on their recent good works and establish protections for animals who have changed the course of North American history for the better. It’s a small act of reciprocity for North Americans to honor the role of the horse in North American settlement, commerce, and recreation and end the most extreme form of human-caused exploitation of these noble animals.

P.S. Americans can take action today to protect U.S. horses from being slaughtered for human consumption. As our companions in sport and leisure, we owe it to them to make sure that their lives do not come to a terrifying end in a slaughterhouse to feed the international demand for horsemeat.

https://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/10/time-ban-horsemeat-trade-north-america-investigation-mexico-uncovers-horse-sold-beef.html?credit=blog_post_103017_id9361

Baby Donkeys Rescued From Meat Trade Are Now Ambassadors for Change

by as published on One Green Planet

“Many of our donkeys have been rescued from miserable live animal markets…”

Hamish, Clover, and Darcy were tiny babies, not yet weaned, when they were taken from their mothers and sent to be sold illegally at a market in the United Kingdom. Huddled together for warmth and comfort, the little donkeys were destined for the donkey meat trade – a little known but widespread and lucrative business which operates the world over.

Thankfully, the three young donkeys, thought to be no more than ten weeks old when found, were rescued from the market by UK charity, The Flicka Foundation, which cares for and rehabilitates horses and donkeys at its sanctuary in the South West of England. The three youngsters now act as ambassadors in the organization’s fight against the trade in donkeys as food.

“Many of our donkeys have been rescued from miserable live animal markets here in the UK,” said Judy Giles, Flicka’s Director. “Sick, elderly or abandoned donkeys are bought by dealers in Europe for pennies and traveled to the UK in filthy, cramped lorries. Those that make the horrendous journey enter the UK meat markets, to be sold and cruelly shipped back to the continent for European corporate dinner plates. Thankfully, Hamish, Clover, and Darcy were rescued before it was too late, but so many millions of other donkeys are not so lucky.”

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the article.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/baby-donkeys-rescued-from-meat-trade-are-ambassadors-for-change/

Missouri State Rep Would Welcome Tainted Horse Meat on the Table

Source: Multiple

“The Safeguard American Food Exports Act — would bar horse slaughter in the U.S. and ban horse shipments to Mexico”

Advocates for horses worry that U.S. restrictions against slaughtering the animals in this country soon could come to an end, and one Missouri lawmaker says he welcomes that.

Slaughtering horses isn’t illegal in the U.S. but has been barred by a technicality, in that over the previous two presidential administrations no federal money was appropriated for U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections of processing plants. With such oversight, the meat could not be sold.

The last horse slaughter plant in the U.S. closed a decade ago, but that hasn’t stopped horses from being exported to Mexico for slaughter despite efforts by places like Greenwood Stables and Equine Horse Rescue near Peabody in south-central Kansas, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2nK408T ) reported.

A measure introduced in both houses of Congress — the Safeguard American Food Exports Act — would bar horse slaughter in the U.S. and ban horse shipments to Mexico, and a Humane Society spokeswoman said recently she expects a “major battle over horse slaughter” this year.

Republican Missouri state Rep. Warren Love says he welcomes that legislative fight. The Osceola rancher considers horses livestock, calls slaughter a form of euthanasia and says the demise of slaughter severely damaged the horse industry. He hopes that changes under President Donald Trump, proclaiming, “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

Trump has not issued any opinion on the matter, though he has called for a repeal of other business regulations.

At Kansas’ Greenwood Stables and Equine Horse Rescue, run by 20-year-old college student Saje Bayes and her mother, Amy Bayes, the tandem has a working relationship with a man who buys horses to resell them to Mexican slaughter plants.

The man lets them have dibs on any horse they think they can find a home for. Last year, that amounted to 700 horses — a fraction of the number the man drove to Mexico.

“The picking is the worst thing ever,” said Bayes, a Newton librarian. “He puts up with a lot from us. He lets us pull horses he would rather we not. He gives us a chance to find them homes. He’s been nice. We’re not friends by any means, and he knows what side I’m on. We just agree to disagree.”

Critics said horses during the road trips to Mexico typically don’t get food or water and must stand in crowded trailers for journeys that can last 36 hours.

Cindy Gendron, manager of the national Homes for Horses Coalition, believes horses clearly are different from cattle, noting that “Americans don’t eat horse meat.”

One reason for that: Drugs that are injected into horses. But horse meat from Mexico has gone to Europe until 2014, when the European Union banned the import after an audit cited inhumane practices at Mexican slaughterhouses. Much of the meat now goes to Asia and the Middle East.

New Rule Tightens Canadian Horse Slaughter Imports

Story by Pat Raia as published on The Horse

 “False documentation (has) been a proven fact for years, yet nothing is ever done about it…”

Beginning in March 31, all horses imported from the United States into horse processing plants in Canada must be held in U.S.-side feedlots for a minimum of six months. The regulation is intended to address food safety concerns expressed by European Union (EU) buyers.

While some equine welfare advocates hope the regulation will increase paperwork and decrease profits for exporters of horses into Canadian processing firms, others believe the rule won’t reduce the number of horses exported for processing every year.  

Under the new regulation, exporters must certify in writing that the U.S. horses exported into Canada for processing haven’t received any drugs within the prior 60 days. But said horse welfare advocate Jerry Finch, founder of Habitat for Horses, the horse-processing industry has long had a reputation for falsifying paperwork connected to exported horses.

 “False documentation (has) been a proven fact for years, yet nothing is ever done about it, so any such regulation is nothing more than a PR effort to make the consumer believe they are receiving the very best horsemeat available; like so much of the food supply, the image of wholesome, healthy, and safe food is a far cry from the reality,” said Finch. “The killer-buyers simply sign the form, the buyers for the slaughterhouse sign it, and done deal. A horse bought at the racetrack in Kentucky on Monday will still be in the food chain by Wednesday.”

The Canadian regulation mirrors one long in place at processing plants in Mexico, which did not eliminate the EU’s food safety concerns. After a 2014 audit, the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) banned the sale of horsemeat processed in Mexico on grounds that exporters falsified processed animals’ medical and drug treatment records.

An uptick in sales to Russian and Chinese markets resulted, said horse processing proponent Dave Duquette. He expects the same after the Canadian rule become effective.

“All the ban did was up sales to Russia and China–and they don’t have the same welfare (regulations) as the EU or that we do,” Duquette said. “The regulation is a (horse) welfare issue, and it lessens the welfare of horses.”

Tom Lenz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, said that an estimated 5 million horses are processed for human consumption worldwide each year.

“The last time I checked, China was processing roughly 2.5 million horses a year for food,” he said.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. horses exported to both Mexico and Canada has stabilized between 130,000-150,000 per year, he said.

“I don’t see that changing much,” Lenz said.

In any case, Lenz said import/export rules won’t make tracking the number of U.S. horses exported for slaughter any easier in the future.

“It’s my understanding that starting this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture is no longer keeping track of the number of horses exported for slaughter,” Lenz said. “So, we really won’t know in the future if the numbers are increasing or decreasing no matter what regulations are established on either the Canadian or Mexican side.”

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/38935/new-rule-tightens-canadian-horse-processing-imports

New Requirements for Export of Horse Meat to the EU Now in Effect

Published on The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Website

“Horses should not be shipping straight to Canada to slaughter any longer, without residing in Canada for 6 months…”

March 1, 2017: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding industry that the European Union (EU) has implemented a six month residency requirement for horses imported into Canada effective today.

According to new requirements, Canadian establishments that export horse meat to the EU must make sure that horses imported into Canada are resident in Canada for six months before slaughter and export.

The CFIA will only provide certificates for the export of horse meat to the EU that meet the EU‘s new six month residency requirement.

This new requirement does not impact food safety. It is mandatory for every horse (domestic or imported) presented for slaughter in a Canadian federally registered equine facility to have a record of all vaccinations and medications given in the previous six months. This is referred to as the Equine Information Document.

Associated Links

http://defendhorsescanada.org/

Federal Legislation Introduced to Prohibit Slaughter of American Equines

Source: Multiple

“This bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food.”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

On April 22nd, 2015, federal lawmakers introduced legislation to prevent the establishment of horse slaughter operations within the U.S., end the current export of American horses and donkeys for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1942, was introduced by Reps. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).

Last year, more than 140,000 American horses, donkeys and mules were slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries. The animals often suffer long journeys to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico without adequate food, water or rest. At the slaughterhouse, horses are  brutally forced into a “kill box” and shot in the head with a captive bolt gun in an attempt to stun them before slaughter—a process that can be inaccurate due to the biology and nature of equines and result in animals sustaining repeated blows or remaining conscious during the kill process.

For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride,” said Rep. Guinta. “To that end, horses are not raised for food – permitting their transportation for the purposes of being slaughtered for human consumption is not consistent with our values and results in a dangerously toxic product.  This bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food.”

Horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “We must fight those practices. The SAFE Act of 2015 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve.”

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is an absolute travesty that must be stopped,” said Rep. Buchanan.  “This bipartisan measure will finally put an end to this barbaric practice.”

Horse slaughter is an inhumane practice that causes great pain and distress to the animals, and poses numerous environmental and food safety concerns,” said Rep. Lujan Grisham. “The vast majority of my constituents oppose horse slaughter. I’m proud to support the SAFE Act to ban this cruelty once and for all.”

The SAFE Act would also protect consumers from dangerous American equine meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the unregulated administration of drugs to horses. Because horses and donkeys are not raised for food, they are routinely given hundreds of toxic drugs and chemical treatments over their lifetimes that are prohibited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in animals intended for human consumption. Those drugs, although safe for horses, are potentially toxic to humans if consumed. In December 2014, the European Union announced its suspension of imports of horse meat from Mexico after a scathing audit of EU-certified Mexican horse slaughter plants, which kill tens of thousands of American horses each year. Additionally, the discovery of horse meat in beef products in Europe shocked consumers and raised concerns about the potential impact on American food industries.

The concerned American public is encouraged to contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act in order to protect America’s horses and overall consumer health from horse slaughter.

EU Ban does Little to Slow Export of US Horses to Slaughter

Source: Equine Welfare Alliance and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

An official AG’s opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office is clear-cut: these shipments violate Texas law.

Slaughter BoundEquine Welfare Alliance and Wild Horse Freedom Federation continue to monitor the shipment of horse meat from Mexico into the Port of Houston, and then on to other countries. There are two important reasons we are doing this. The first has to do with Texas statutes and the second is related to the recent EU decision to ban Mexican horsemeat.

Texas Ag. Code 149 is a 1949 law that makes the shipment of horse meat illegal in the state of Texas. This is the same law that in 2007 closed down the plants in Texas and the same law that made American Airlines cease shipping horse meat from the two Texas plants. Attorneys have researched the issue and believe that once again this state law is being broken.

An official AG’s opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office is clear-cut: these shipments violate Texas law. We are working closely with the Harris County (Houston) District Attorney’s office to try to gain compliance.

[https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/opinions/49cornyn/op/2002/htm/jc0539.htm]

Secondly, the EU food safety ban of horse meat from Mexico took effect January 15. We have been carefully monitoring the shipments through the Port of Houston to determine the effect of the ban on the export of horse meat from Mexico. Since 87% of horses slaughtered in Mexico and shipped to the EU are American, we expected a sharp decline in shipments. This decline would logically be consistent with a sharp decline in the number of American horses exported from the US to Mexico for slaughter and shipment to the EU.

The number of US horses exported to Mexico for slaughter has gone down since the EU ban took effect, but not nearly as much as expected. USDA data shows that in the four weeks since the effective date of the ban, fewer horses have been shipped to Mexico from the US for slaughter compared to last year. However, the reduction thus far seems to be no more than 10% to 20%, far less than the hoped for 87%.

We must, however, realize that the plants may have had an order backlog with non-EU countries and that they could keep their volume up for a while by clearing this backlog. There are some indications that this may be at least partially the case given the most recent reports, but only time will tell.

The last shipments from Mexico prior to the EU ban were not scheduled to arrive in Antwerp until the 16th of February. All of the eight containers were shipped through the Port of Houston in violation of Texas law. Intermeats and Empacadora De Carnes De Fresnillo are listed as the shippers.

Questions remain. Has the EU food safety ban been fully implemented? What will be its longer term impact on the export of US horses? Are other non EU markets taking the horse meat banned by the EU as unfit for human consumption?

What we do know is that two shipments were dispatched from Mexico in early February, after the effective date of the EU ban. The shipments from Empacadora De Carnes De Fresnillo were consigned to non EU countries, Russia and Vietnam. We anticipated continued exports to these two countries, as well as possibly Hong Kong, given pre-ban trade patterns.

Slaughterhouse boss admits charges over UK horsemeat scandal

Sources: Multiple

Peter Boddy, 65, admits to failing to abide by EU regulations concerning more than 17 horse carcasses

Abattoir owner Peter Boddy (right), who is the first person to face jail after admitting criminal charges connected to the horsemeat scandal. Photograph: Justin Tallis/PA

A slaughterhouse boss is the first person to face jail after admitting criminal charges connected to the horsemeat scandal which rocked British supermarkets in 2013.

Peter Boddy, 65, admitted one count of failing to abide by EU meat traceability regulations concerning more than 17 horse carcasses. The charge carries a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.

At an earlier hearing, Boddy – who runs a slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire – pleaded guilty to failing to comply with food-traceability regulations which state the source of meat should be traceable from field to fork.

He admitted selling 50 horses for meat but failing to keep proper records to show who bought them.

There is no suggestion that buyers did not know they were purchasing horse meat. Prosecutors said they did not know where the meat might have ended up.

Wearing a khaki hunting jacket and clutching a deer-stalker, Boddy stood in the dock at London’s Southwark crown court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to the second count.

The slaughterhouse’s 54-year-old manager David Moss, admitted forging an invoice concerning the number of horses sold in a transaction on 12 February 2013.

But he denied failing to comply with food-traceability requirements for more than 17 horse carcasses between July 2012 and February 2013, and the charge was left to lie on file, as well as a charge of failing to comply with EU meat-traceability regulations. The pair will be sentenced on 23 March at Southwark.

Judge Alistair McCreath released them both on unconditional bail, saying: “I tell you now that I have reached no view whatever as to the right sentence, no preliminary view, no settled view, nothing.

“I say that so that you understand that by granting you bail and ordering reports, I don’t give you any indication.

“So don’t run away with the idea that I have given you any kind of hint, any kind of indication or promise, what is going to happen.”

In a separate prosecution, slaughterhouse bosses Dafydd Raw-Rees and Colin Patterson, from Wales, will stand trial on charges arising from the horsemeat scandal.

They both deny 19 counts of selling goat falsely labelled as lamb shanks, lamb trim and mutton.

The pair, who worked at Tyne Parc, Llandre, in Dyfed, Wales, also deny failing to comply with food-traceability requirements.

Their company, Farmbox Meats Limited, is believed to have gone into administration and stopped operating.

The pair will stand trial at Southwark crown court on 18 May.

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

December Full of Christmas Cheer for American Horses

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Quietly, while most Americans made plans for holiday festivities several major milestones occurred this month that will enhance the safety and security of American equines during the upcoming new year. The activities of salvation seemed to occur unnoticed but we at SFTHH and WHFF want you to be well informed and perhaps even celebrate a bit over what has occurred.

First, Congress passed the Omnibus Bill on December 13th. The bill is a package that includes parts of the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bills and will fund most government agencies and programs until the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, 2015.

The legislation included language that prohibits the USDA from using any funds to provide inspectors at meat processing facilities that slaughter horses, continuing an effective block that has been in place since 2005, except for a brief period in 2012-13.

No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the United States, and the bill will prevent any such facility from opening until Sept. 30, 2015.

The language was included in the omnibus bill because both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees adopted amendments that prohibited funding for inspectors at horse slaughter facilities when they debated and approved their respective versions of the 2015 USDA appropriations bill. Many thanks to those who lobby on behalf of our horses in Washington D.C..

As a bonus the bill also contains a provision that would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from euthanizing healthy wild horses in its care or from selling wild horses or burros that result in their being processed into commercial products. Small step forward for the wild ones but a move forward none the less.

Secondly, and this may be the final death blow to the predatory business of horse slaughter, the European Commission has suspended the import of horsemeat from Mexico to the European Union (EU) due to food safety concerns. We equine advocates have tried to stay focused on the issue of food safety for years and it appears that such perseverance has finally paid off.

Effective Jan. 15, the commission has suspended a residue monitoring plan that tests for the presence of horse meat in other imported meat products, according to Aikaterini Apostola, press officer for health for the European Commission, during a recent published interview.

“Such suspension results in a ban of the import of horse meat, meat preparations, and meat products from Mexico,” Apostola stated in an email. “The measure has been taken after repeated negative outcomes of the audits carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate General in Mexico, the last of them in June 2014. This last audit also showed that many of the corrective actions that Mexico committed to take following previous audits were not yet taken.”

A key issue for the 28-member commission was inhumane treatment of the horses being shipped from the United States to Mexican slaughterhouses.

Michael Scannell, director of the Food and Veterinary Office, addressed the issue Nov. 30 at a European Parliament Intergroup meeting in Brussels by stating;

“In general, the worst contraventions we know are in relation to transport,” Scannell said. “By way of example, we will publish a report in the next number of weeks in relation to Mexico where we saw animals which arrived dead from the United States or non-ambulatory, i.e., they weren’t even able to stand.”

The transportation problem is also expected to affect slaughter operations in Canada, according to Scannell, who added the commission is close to imposing a “six-month” rule for Canada.

“So, in both cases, this will make it a lot more difficult — impossible in the case of Mexico, difficult in the case of Canada — to continue importing horses from the United States for subsequent export of horse meat to the European Union,” Scannell said.

So as you can see, American equine advocates truly do have something to celebrate this holiday season and we can look forward to the new year with vigor and anticipation as we push towards resolution the outstanding issues which still plague our American horses, both domestic and wild.

By “keeping the faith” we are trotting into a new era for our horses and donkeys…keep up the great works and take a moment to bask in the afterglow of these two great victories.

Thanks to all who work so hard for those who cannot speak for themselves.  You are very special, indeed.