Compiled and Commentary by Vicki Tobin ~ VP of the Equine Welfare Alliance
Typical Horse Slaughter Supporter “Foot in Mouth” Syndrome
In case you missed the session on Lummis’ amendment, below is the Congressional Record Text. Some of it wasn’t displayed in the record but only in captions so I grabbed what I could – that’s the reason for the difference in format toward the bottom.
This link will get you to the videos, captions and official record. The videos are tricky – I had to hit “next clip” several times to get to the next clip.
Cynthia Lummis WY
Mrs. LUMMIS. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would remove the restriction only on the fee-for-service horse meat inspection portion. Since fiscal year 2006, Congress has prohibited the use of Federal funds to inspect horses. However, the USDA allowed for a fee-for-service program for mandatory inspection of horses destined for food until 2008, when Congress prohibited the program through an appropriations rider.
Before these bans, horse processing was a $65 million a year industry and owners could receive about $400 to $800 when selling a horse. I am offering this amendment because owners should have the option of selling their horse for processing under their personal property rights. It is not the Federal Government’s role to ban this option. The decision to allow for processing should be made by the States.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations has directed GAO to examine the effects of this ban on the welfare of horses and on the agriculture industry. This report was expected by March 1 of 2010. Over a full year later, we still have yet to be delivered a final report from GAO, but expect one within weeks of this debate. It is important that this analysis be considered when determining whether to consider this ban.
In particular, the GAO was asked to examine how many horses are now being shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, which outside analysis has confirmed is increasing. With the increased exporting of animals comes the concern of longer transportation times to slaughter and reduced inspections by USDA of travel conditions. USDA has no authority to ensure humane treatment once horses cross the border to Mexico or Canada, and there is no reason to believe horses are receiving better treatment by continuing this ban.
Additionally, there continue to be reports of increased animal abuse during the reduced options for unwanted horses. I can assure you this is true in my home State of Wyoming. Recently, 100 horses have been seized from a western Wyoming ranch where they were being starved and had to be transported to the eastern side of the State to the State’s Cheyenne stockyards. While the state veterinarian is caring for the animals currently, the options for selling these horses are limited.
There is just no place to send unwanted horses, and neglect will continue to rise across the country without a viable alternative. In fact, the Wyoming legislature this year made it a crime to release a horse on to public lands. Now, the reason people do that is because there is no other way to get rid of an unwanted horse. There is no opportunity to sell them into this meat market, so people are turning them loose with the feral horses, the wild horses, further exacerbating the Federal wild horse problem.
Congress needs to examine these concerns, and the GAO report should provide us the information needed to make an educated decision on this matter.
Now, I plan to withdraw my amendment after discussing this issue, but would like to provide my colleagues with the opportunity to present their States’ concerns with this ban and to ensure moving forward we examine the GAO report before finalizing any appropriations language for fiscal year 2012.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Steven Pearce NM
Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentlelady from Wyoming bringing this amendment.
You know, many times people think that horse slaughter is just simply inhumane. Somehow they think that horse starvation is somehow more humane. The truth is that people are going to get rid of their horses in some way, so what they do in New Mexico and in the Western States is they simply take them out and turn them loose.
Right now we are struggling with an economy, an economy that is having difficulties from every area, and too often we say it is just a problem of the economy. We don’t break it down to its individual components.
One of the components in New Mexico is that we have completely eliminated sheep from New Mexico. New Mexico used to be a large area of sheep production. That piece of the economy is simply gone because of regulations we in Washington and the States have put into place. New Mexico also used to have a vibrant apple economy. That is now gone because we have given favorable treatment to overseas products.
But then this is another element of the economy that has simply disappeared. New Mexico used to have a vibrant horse trade. Prices were high.
Now prices on horses are low because people know they have no option at the end of a horse’s life, so it is simply doing away with the horse market.
So we find that we in Congress are causing the economic decay of our entire Nation, and the gentlelady’s amendment simply says let’s study the facts. Let’s understand what is going on that we ourselves are causing. Let’s understand the economic duress that Washington and the States are putting on their own economies. It makes ultimate sense, and for us in the West it should be absolutely reinstated. We should reinstate the market there, because horses are being very inhumanely treated in the guise of some more humane treatment. So I thank the lady for her presentation.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Jack Kingston GA
Mr. KINGSTON. I rise in support of the Lummis amendment. I am disappointed that she is planning to withdraw it and that we will not be having a vote on it. We had a vote on it in full committee. It was actually Mr. Moran’s amendment that pulled it out. I did not support the gentleman from Virginia’s amendment because I believe there is a lot of emotion that goes on when we are dealing with a horse. It still is a private property issue, a personal property issue, and while I do not own horses, I have family members who own horses. I know that you do have to have someplace to move the horse on to when it ages out on you.
It is very emotional in America. We look down at other nations that eat horses, but I have eaten horse before. In Kazakhstan I ate horse, and it wasn’t bad. But we as Americans, we have an obesity problem, so we can pick and choose what we want to eat and what we don’t want to eat, and people feel like, well, we are too good to be eating horses. I understand that, but the rest of the world does eat horses and I think, frankly, that is a different discussion, as my friend from Virginia knows.
But I wish we were having a vote on it. [Page: H4223] Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Jim Moran VA
Mr. MORAN. I do rise in opposition to this amendment that would allow horse slaughtering to resume in the United States.
The language that the gentlelady’s amendment would strike was put into the bill as a bipartisan amendment by two Republicans and a Democrat–Mr. Sweeney, Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Spratt. What it did is to restrict funding for Federal activities involved with meat inspection. Thereby, it stopped horse slaughter for the purpose of human consumption in any facility in the United States, and it stopped new facilities from opening. It passed this body by an overwhelming vote: 269-158. Now, every year since, the language has been retained in the Agriculture appropriations bill. There are six very good reasons for doing this.
One, it’s money badly spent. Only foreign corporations which deal in horse meat for consumption in foreign markets would benefit from the Federal inspection of U.S. horse slaughter plants. So we are using American taxpayer money to inspect meat so that foreign corporations can send it overseas so that people living in foreign countries can consume it. There is a $37 million cut below last year’s levels in the Food Safety and Inspection Service. So here you are cutting $37 million in food safety inspection. Yet you would be adding this additional burden onto the Food Safety and Inspection Service, an additional responsibility to inspect horse meat. Remember, this is meat that will be exclusively consumed in foreign countries. Before the ban, most meat was exported to France, Belgium and Japan. We should be using our resources to focus on meat consumed by our constituents.
Secondly, the American public overwhelmingly does not support the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Three-quarters of our constituents across the country oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Thirdly, American horse meat invariably contains harmful chemicals because horses are not raised for human consumption. A recent FDA toxicity report found any number of substances that could cause adverse effects in humans. One example is phenylbutazone. It’s known as “bute.” It is the most common anti-inflammatory given to horses. It is difficult to know every substance given to every horse in the United States. Because they’re not intended to be raised as food, they’re given different chemicals.
The only way to ensure that such harmful substances don’t make it into the food supply is to prevent horse meat from entering the market.
Fourth, most horses sent to slaughter are, in fact, healthy. Sometimes it’s framed, as my friend from Georgia suggested, as a way to dispose of unwanted horses. The facts don’t support this claim. When horse slaughter was allowed in the U.S., 92 percent of horses sent to slaughter were healthy and could have continued to have been used as productive animals. They weren’t old and infirm, because sick and old horses aren’t used as a food source. People don’t want to eat meat from sick, old horses.
So we are talking about primarily healthy horses.
Fifth, other, more humane options are available. A licensed veterinarian can humanely euthanize a horse for $225. That is not cost-prohibitive.
I want to underscore, too, that my very good friend was complaining that there was too much emotion in this argument. What’s wrong with emotion? I mean, the horses inspire us. That’s why most of the statues around the U.S. Capitol are of horses and of heroes riding on horses. Horses were critical to the expansion of the West. They aided in the development of agriculture. They provide entertainment and recreation similar to dogs and cats. They are treasured and loyal companion animals, and we revere them. That’s why the American public rejects slaughtering them for human consumption.
So let’s just summarize here.
A vote for this amendment is a vote to overturn established policy that was enacted under Republicans and supported by the American people to prevent horse slaughter to resume in this country. It would be diverting inspection funding, which is being cut substantially, to inspect meat that foreign corporations will be able to sell to foreign consumers. That’s not something this body should support.
With that, I can argue against every claim that was made, but I don’t think I will take up the time to do that.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Adam Smith NE
Mr. SMITH of Nebraska. Mr. Chairman, I do want to clarify for the record that this amendment is not about tax dollars. This amendment is about adjusting some policy that was put into an appropriations bill some time ago, long before the current makeup of Congress. We are talking about a fee-for-service scenario that would allow the private sector to ensure that there is safe, affordable horse meat to the general public, to a market overseas that is very robust.
Let me also say that a GAO study on the effects of horse slaughter plant closings on the welfare of horses and on the farm economy as a whole was requested by the Senate Ag Appropriations Committee more than a year and a half ago, and is overdue for a report.
The devastated horse industry continues to be attacked by misinformation, and we certainly have a problem here because I would allege that the economics of the ownership of horses are upside down. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, the result of this misguided campaign will eventually be a Nation where very few can even afford to own a horse. Without a secondary market, the value of horses at every level has plunged. Fewer horses mean fewer jobs, fewer horse trailers sold, fewer veterinary service dollars spent, fewer saddles sold–and the list continues.
Destroying the U.S. horse industry closed the U.S. to a very robust global market and gave other countries this economic opportunity. With the ability to ethically produce horse meat under regulated, humane conditions in the United States, we would almost immediately create jobs and minimize suffering.
I yield back the balance of my time.
The Acting CHAIR. Does any other Member seek recognition?
Cynthia Lummis WY
Mrs. LUMMIS. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Virginia inadvertently misrepresented the terms of this amendment. They only applied to the fee-for-service component.
With that, Mr. Chairman—-
Note: there was an objection here and a bit more banter here but it didn’t appear in the captions
I don’t know who was speaking here – there is more than one voice
02:24:04 I DIDN’T HEAR THAT AND I OBJECT.
02:24:08 IF YOU WITHDRAW THE AMENDMENT, I WON’T OBJECT.
02:24:16 SHE HASN’T WITHDRAWN IT.
This was Lummis
02:24:17 NOW I’M NOT GOING TO WITHDRAW THE AMENDMENT.
02:24:19 I ASK FOR A VOTE.
02:24:25 I’LL ASK FOR A VOTE.
Dan Burton IN
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Let me just say to the gentlelady that this is an emotional issue, and those of us who do not agree with you feel strongly about it.
Now, I believe, if you put that amendment in, it could very well jeopardize the ag bill. I don’t think you want to do that, so I hope you will reconsider withdrawing this amendment. In committee, your amendment was defeated. There are a lot of people in this country who feel very strongly on both sides of this issue, but the American public, whether or not you agree with them, feels very strongly, as Mr. Moran said, so I hope you will change your mind.
Regarding some of the things I’ve heard about these horses starving to death on the plains and everything–and I was not going to speak on this–there are a number of people in this country who are willing to put up millions and millions of dollars. In fact, I know some of them. They have bought ranches and want to take these wild horses and put them into an area where they will be safe, where they will be [Page: H4224] protected, where they will be cared for. We are talking about, in addition to the ranches, maybe another 600,000 or 700,000 acres that would be used for these horses and for them to be able to survive.
[Time: 15:30] If you have ever looked at the way they transport these horses to slaughter, they cram 20 horses into a truck that’s built for 10. They don’t feed them. They don’t water them properly. And those horses are so mistreated, it’s unbelievable, when they go to slaughter. And that’s why they close these slaughterhouses. In addition, you ought to see what they do in these slaughterhouses for these horses. They hang them up by a hook while they’re still alive and they’re squealing, and they kill them in a very inhumane way.
I am not for changing our agricultural attitudes in this country. We have to have the slaughter of pigs and cows and chickens and that sort of thing. So a lot of times people say if we’re against horse slaughter, we want to do something to hurt the agriculture community. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We just want to make sure that these animals are treated in a humane way, number one, and, number two, that the American taxpayer is not paying for the French to get horse meat.
So let me just say to the lady one more time, I sincerely hope that she will reconsider. We have a disagreement. I hope you will reconsider and withdraw this amendment because I don’t think something of this emotional status should impede or impair something as important as the ag bill.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
Jack Larson GA
02:27:48 I RISE IN STRONG SUPPORT OF THE AMENDMENT AND BELIEVE WHILE IT MAY BE AN EMOTIONAL ISSUE, AND AS MY FRIENDS SAID, EMOTION IS GOOD, THERE’S A LOT OF LOGIC IN THE GENTLEWOMAN’S POSITION.
02:28:03 THAT’S WHY I’M A STRONG SUPPORTER OF IT AND RECOGNIZING SHE’S ON HER FEET, I’D LIKE TO YIELD HER THE BALANCE OF MY TIME.
Cynthia Lummis WY
Mrs. LUMMIS. Before I withdraw the amendment, I wish to correct that this amendment has never been considered in committee or on the floor. This amendment only applies to the two lines in this horse inspection issue which deal with an individual’s right to pay their own money to have a horse inspected.
There are no taxpayer dollars involved in this amendment. I’m only striking the two lines that now you’re even not allowing people to pay their own money to have a horse inspected.
With that opportunity to correct the record, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw my amendment.
I thought you’d all enjoy this comment that was posted on Duquette’s facebook page yesterday.
“c-span…..what a blast! Your buddy Lummis didn’t do too well. I thought her head would start to spin like in the exorcist!”