House Leadership Renews Push to Reinstate Horse Slaughter in US

Source: Equine Welfare Alliance PR

Chicago (EWA)– EWA has learned that Mr. Douglas A. Glenn, Director, Office of Financial Management, Department of the Interior, has notified his department in a letter dated 22 February, that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) has been tasked to study any changes in the state of equine welfare in the US from 2010 to the present.

The request to the GAO was made by the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee and the Chair of House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration.

Attached to the letter was a statement of the scope of the work to be performed, including addressing four questions:

  1. What is known about changes and trends in the U.S. horse market since 2010?
  2. What impact, if any, has the prohibition on USDA funding for horse slaughter inspection had on horse welfare and on states, local governments and Indian tribes?
  3. What is known about the number of abandoned and unwanted horses in the U.S. and associated environmental impacts?
  4. What is the current capacity of animal welfare organizations and shelters to accept and care for unwanted and abandoned horses?

The study request clearly marks the first step in a renewed attempt to lift a ban on the funding for the ante-mortem inspection of slaughter horses. The funding provision is in the annual budget, and thus must be reintroduced whenever a new budget is adopted. Without inspections, it has been illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption off and on since 2007.

The request is essentially identical to a GAO study made at the request of Roy Blunt (R-MO), Herb Kohl (R-WI), and Jack Kingston (R-GA) in 2009. The resulting report (GAO 11-228), took almost two years to complete and was not released until the eve of a critical budget vote in 2011. Though devoid of welfare data, the report claimed that equine abuse and neglect had soared, falsely implying a 60% increase in Colorado after the closing of the domestic slaughter plants.

GAO 11-228 then became the key proof used by proponents of reinstating the inspections funding. It was constantly cited as showing that the defunding had been a mistake, and it resulted in the Congress reinstating inspections funding in the 2012 budget. The funding remained in place until 2014, by which time EWA had exposed the fact that the original GAO report had fraudulently used the Colorado data, and that there had been no increase in abuse and neglect. Five slaughter houses applied for licenses to slaughter horses, but none opened before the funding was again withdrawn in 2014.

Horse slaughter faces bipartisan opposition in Congress, making a report such as GAO 11-228 essential to justify bringing it back to US soil. In the period since domestic slaughter ended, horses have been shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. However the US does not track the drugs given to horses, and this has resulted in the EU (European Union) banning Mexican horse meat and placing strict quarantine on slaughter horses in Canada.

John Holland, President of EWA, explains “The study is preordained to meaninglessness, since there was virtually no significant change in the number of horses being exported for slaughter over the proposed study period (112,850 in 2010 and 114,091 in 2016). But this ignores the reality of the cauldron of deceit that our government has become. Those requesting the study merely need a document to wave over their heads while they passionately berate their colleagues for causing a nonexistent tragedy. And no doubt, the once trustworthy GAO will produce a document concluding that the exile of the horse slaughter industry resulted in a disaster, tantamount to the Bowling Green massacre.”

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) is a dues-free, 501c3 umbrella organization with 330 member organizations, the Southern Cherokee Government and over 1,200 individual members worldwide in 23 countries. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids. www.equinewelfarealliance.org

Feel Good Sunday Videos: Celebrated Equine Christmas Videos take a Holiday this Year

This article first appeared here in December of 2013 (these just get better and better)

Fighting the Good Fight for the Horses and Burros Takes a Toll on Free Time

John Holland, president of the Equine Welfare Alliance and covert owner of Howling Ridge Film and Fertilizer Co., has been entertaining us with equine holiday videos over the years.  But this year we are going to be forced to sit back and enjoy the works of years gone by as John, like many, has been up to his eyeballs in important issues and is making great strides forward for the horses and the burros in the real fight, on the all too real battlefield and that fight has held precedence over the production of the annual Christmas video.  Keep up the good works, John and the EWA, we are all on the same page and support your efforts.  Merry Christmas and enjoy!” ~ R.T.

Appalachian Christmas Tail (2006)

Christmas Spirit (2006)

A Christmas Legend (2007)

It’s a Wonderful Life (2008)

How the Grinch Stole Equus (2009)

The Christmas List (2010)

All John’s videos can be viewed at the (EWA Video Page)

North American Experts to Present at Equine Advocates 2015 Horse Summit

Press Release from Equine Advocates

Gloria Steinem to Welcome Invitation-Only Audience with Letter Calling for PMU Ban

EquineAdvocatesCHATHAM, N.Y., May 6, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The fourth annual 2015 American Equine Summit will be held on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17. Horse slaughter; the transfer of PMU (pregnant mares’ urine) production to China; alternatives to ERT/HRT drugs made from horse urine; and wild horse and sporting horse issues highlight this year’s Summit. Featuring presentations from highly respected equine and medical experts in North America, the Summit includes a statement by famed writer and political activist Gloria Steinem calling for an end to the 73 year-old PMU industry.

“I want to thank you for helping to alert the public to the dangers — to horses as well as to women – that have come with the use of pregnant mares’ urine as a source of human treatment,” Steinem wrote.

A preview of the new film, “One Day,” by Victoria Racimo about the rescue of 1977 Thoroughbred champion Our Mims promises an emotional conclusion to Saturday’s schedule.

The Summit, which will be held at Equine Advocates Rescue & Sanctuary (www.equineadvocates.org) in Chatham, N.Y., was first held in 2012 in response to the threat of horse slaughter returning to the US.  A meeting between Summit presenter, equestrian and philanthropist Victoria McCullough, and Vice President Joe Biden resulted in Biden adding language to the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act to defund horse meat inspectors.

A 2010 toxicology report (http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/Food_and_Chemical_Toxicology_FINAL.pdf ) proved that individuals who consumed the meat of equines treated with the common anti-inflammatory drug Phenylbutazone could be at risk for life-threatening diseases. “The 2010 report and other studies about toxicity in horse meat changed the way our government and the EU view the slaughter of American-bred equines for food,” said Equine Advocates President, Susan Wagner. “It’s not only unethical, it also poses serious risks to human health and food safety.”

Presenters for the 2015 American Equine Summit include (in alphabetical order):

  • Paula Bacon, former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas  – Keynote
  • Alex Brown, Horseman and Author
  • Vicki Burns, Conservationist and Animal Advocate, formerly of Winnipeg Humane Society
  • Holly Cheever, D.V.M., Award-winning Large and Small Animal Veterinarian
  • John Holland, Equine Welfare Alliance
  • Russ Mead, Esq., Animal Law Coalition
  • Victoria Racimo, Filmmaker, President of Palomino Entertainment Group
  • Jerilynn C. Prior, MD FRCPC, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, University of British Columbia
  • Loni Stewart, Canadian Horse Defence (sic) Coalition
  • Susan Wagner, Equine Advocates
  • Carol Walker, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
  • TanNa Young, Coordinating Producer, CBS’s “The Good Wife,” Filmmaker

Founded in 1996, Equine Advocates is a national non-profit equine protection organization based in Chatham, N.Y. Its mission is the rescue, protect and prevent the abuse of equines through education, investigation, rescue operations, the dissemination of information to the public and through the operation of a horse sanctuary for slaughter-bound, abused and neglected equines. For more information, contact info@equineadvocates.org or (518) 245-1599.

John Holland, Pres. of Equine Welfare Alliance, with an update on horse slaughter, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 1/28/15)

painy

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Action Alert from Equine Welfare Alliance

copyright Terry Fitch

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT ON VIRGINIA BILL

We have a bill pending in the Virginia legislature that needs supporters.  As you know, much of our work is directed at determining the state of equine welfare so that we can dispel propaganda about the effect of laws and provide the truth.  At present there are five states that provide this information and we are working on getting more.

All you have to do is reply to ewa@equinewelfarealliance.org with an email saying your organization supports the legislation. If you do not belong to an organization but know an organization that may be interested in supporting this effort, please pass this on.

Kindest Regards,

John Holland
SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:

Report on cruelty to equines. Requires localities to submit annually a report to the State Veterinarian detailing the number of persons who have violated the animal cruelty statute with respect to equine animals as well as the nature of each violation and the penalty imposed in each instance.

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1464

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

Report finds hope for US equine industry after prolonged decline

Source: The Equine Welfare Alliance

the price of hay in every state over the past decade with increases in many states of over 100%,

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

CHICAGO, July 15, 2014 — The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) with the assistance of the Animal Law Coalition has released the first Annual Equine Welfare Report. The report contains statistics and records obtained from federal and state agencies as well as breed registries.

“The findings are grim for the horse industry,” says EWA’s John Holland, “We found that the decline in new registrations which began in 2005 continued into 2013, with some breeds reporting registrations down as much as 75%.”

The report details the price of hay in every state over the past decade with increases in many states of over 100%, and some showing increases as much as 220%. Worst hit were the western and southwestern states, which were plagued by persistent drought.

The report, however, offers a glimmer of hope in recent increases in the amount of land allocated to hay production following the removal of corn ethanol subsidies that Congress terminated in 2011. This marks the first upturn in over a decade.

The report also finds the export of horses to slaughter declined in 2013, down from an almost two decade high in 2012.

An earlier EWA study found that the price of hay was the dominant factor in determining the likely rate of neglect, with the rate of unemployment coming in a distant second.

The report also contains a detailed record of legal and legislative battles that have raged over the past few years, especially as concerns horse slaughter. “Slaughter in the U.S. is now illegal again thanks to the tireless efforts of Americans who care about horse welfare,” said Laura Allen, president of ALC, “but the effort continues to ban the export of horses for slaughter in other countries.”

Finally, the report provides an update in the abuse and neglect rates in the five states where these records are kept at the state level. Only Colorado showed an increased rate of neglect, but it was the only state that reports such data within the drought plagued regions. “When the price of hay increases dramatically, you can be sure that the neglect rate will follow the same trajectory,” explained Holland.

Happy Birthday, John!

Today is our good friend John Holland’s birthday!  I know you all appreciate his many years of hard work with Equine Welfare Alliance, and thought you might like to wish him a happy year ahead.  Please send him a birthday wish below, or e-mail him at john@equinewelfarealliance.org

EWA President John Holland speaking at DC March for Mustangs demonstration 3/2010 ~ photo by Terry Fitch

EWA President John Holland speaking at DC March for Mustangs demonstration 3/2010 ~ photo by Terry Fitch

John Holland on Mustang Matters today

John Holland, President of Equine Welfare Alliance, will be a guest on Fox News Radio – Mustang Matters

 

When: May 21 [today] at 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Pacific time (two different segments).

 

Where: www.991fmtalk.com

There will be two one half hour segments that will air consecutively but on different markets.  It will be hosted by Lacy Dalton and Eddie Floyd who will discuss the issues involved in protecting both our wild and domestic horses with John.  Call in participants will be given a chance to ask questions of John and the work of the Equine Welfare Alliance.

Be sure to tune in!

Horse Slaughter Falls Flat in the Year of the Horse

Guest Commentary by John Holland ~ president of Equine Welfare Alliance

“…if there is one consistent theme in Congress, it is that they almost never do things the way they are supposed to…”

Happy HorseThis is part three concerning the omnibus bill. Part one, as many of you have discerned, was our optimistic New Year’s message hinting at good things ahead, and part two was the announcement of the defunding language in the omnibus budget and how it got there.

These developments have led to the question of how long this will stop slaughter houses from returning to the US. I will attempt to explain the answer to that question. Like most things in Washington, the answer is a bit convoluted. However, I think it is safe to say it will stop their return for at least two years and here is why.

Budgets are, as we all know, a one-year affair that begins October 1st. The process is supposed to start with the President’s budget, which is broken into 12 separate budgets (such as the Agriculture Budget), which in turn go to the various appropriations committees to be amended.

These budgets are then supposed to go to the floor of their respective houses for a vote. Following their passage in the Senate and House, the resulting budgets are supposed to go to a conference committee to hammer out differences, and then back to the House and Senate for a final vote.

But if there is one consistent theme in Congress, it is that they almost never do things the way they are supposed to. According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress has passed a full budget only three times in the past 26 years! Most years they pass a CR for all or most individual budgets.

Last year, the agriculture budgets got through the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, but neither reached their respective floors for a vote. Both budgets had defunding language, as did the President’s budget. The budget for other departments didn’t even get that far.

A CR, or Continuing Resolution, is merely a way of keeping spending at the same level (or at some multiple of the current level) for an additional period. The duration can be from a day to as much as the remainder of the current budget year.

An omnibus budget is yet another way for Congress to shortcut its budgeting process. This fiscal year, we got a series of short CRs, followed by an omnibus budget.

Since the omnibus was based on the bipartisan budget “framework” agreement reached a month earlier, and since that agreement was for two years, we can be sure that the 2015 budget will be a one-year CR.

Now it gets kind of ironic. The late Sue Wallis, Dave Duquette and even Charlie Stenholm had speculated publicly, and no doubt prayed, that there would be a CR for 2014. That would have continued the funding for inspections from the previous 2012 and 2013 budgets.

However there is something call an “anomaly” that can be added to a CR to place a restriction on certain funds. Since nobody was sure the omnibus would pass, a CR was indeed prepared and tucked away to keep the government funded the rest of the year if the omnibus blew up.

That CR contained an anomaly that prohibited any funds from being used for horse slaughter inspections. So had they been forced to use the CR, it would have had the same outcome (defunding). We knew this well before the budget deal was struck, and actually expected that is the way things would go.

And why is this important going forward? It is important because it was none other than Secretary Vilsack who signed off on the anomaly. That explains why Victoria wanted to thank him. It also means that it will be virtually impossible for the pro-slaughter camp to accomplish a removal of the defunding language for the 2015 budget CR.

So the plants are locked out for two years and probably more. And that is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would have said.

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