28 March 2018
The Need for Horse Slaughter Facilities in the United States
Is slaughter a necessary evil? Often, a bloody, gory picture is what comes to mind when the topic of slaughter is brought up. Horse slaughter has been a highly debated topic in the recent years. Slaughter facilities are broadly viewed as evil and inhumane. As a result of constant debate on horse slaughter, in 2007 U.S. withheld federal funding for the required inspection of horsemeat. Therefore, resulting in the ban of horse slaughter. This ban will be surrounded with more controversial topics. Many Americans are unaware of or ignore the fact of the large number of neglected and abandoned horses in our country. Is this large number because of the ban? Does the ban increase the welfare of the horse? Will economics be affected by the ban? The ban on horse slaughter should be lifted because it will have positive impacts on the economy, improve the welfare of horses, and also allow the U.S. to produce horsemeat.
The issue of horse slaughter began around 1979 when the high number of deaths in horses being shipped to Europe became a concern suggest writer Natalie Anderson in the article “Protecting Equine Welfare and International Consumers of Horse Meat: A Proposal for the Renewal of Horse Slaughter in the United States”. This lead to the prevention of overseas shipment for processing through legislation passed. As a result, by the end of the 1980’s slaughtered 320,000 horses in 16 plants in the United States (130). Animal rights groups pushed the bill passed resulting in loss of federal funds for inspection. By bearing the expense of inspection three facilities remained open until Texas and Illinois passed state legislation banning slaughter for human consumption forcing them to close their doors (131). Animal rights groups have made numerous attempts to permanently ban horse slaughter as well as the export intended for human consumption, but continuously unsuccessful. (132-133). This ban has severe impacts on this topic. Writer Natalie Anderson believes that “The de facto ban on horse slaughter in the United States, although well intentioned, has resulted in unintended negative consequences on equine welfare, the domestic horse industry, and the safety of international consumers of horse meat.” (159). Writers K.E. Holcomb et.al suggest “Closure of the last US equine slaughter facilities in 2007 and the economic recession that began in 2008 are 2 factors believed to have precipitated the increasing number of unwanted, potentially neglected, and abused horses in the United States.” (4142). In addition to the ethics resulting in the ban of slaughter, authors Dan Lawler and L. Leon Geyer argue that “one must consider the ethics of not slaughtering horses in a world plagued by food crisis; are those calories wasted and could they be efficiently relocated?” (273). Tom R. Lenz, DVM adds “To many Americans, the horse is a symbol of beauty, grace, and the American West and is a cultural icon. This perception of the horse has greatly complicated the unwanted horse issue and the discussion of end-of-life decisions for horses.” (253). Writer Laura Durfee believes animal welfare groups are “emotionally charged” and never acknowledge what will actually result from the ban of slaughter (353). Authors Mykel Taylor and Elizabeth Sieverkropp add the closure of horse slaughter plants as well as the economic recession had an “estimated 12%-16% decline in price” for horses priced under $1500 (61). Animal welfare groups should observe the negative impact the ban of slaughter has had on our country and the welfare of animals.
Than ban on horse slaughter has put horse owners in a tough situation with no economically efficient disposal of the unwanted horse. According to author Laura J. Durfee in the article “Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislation: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society” the number of abused, neglected, and abandoned horses will increase (354). Horses are now forced to die a slow and painful death of starvation and dehydration because of the ban on horse slaughter. As a horse owner seeing these horses suffering miserably is terrible to see. It is pathetic that down just about any country road there is a horse suffering from this ban of horse slaughter. The ban of slaughter also resulted in the loss of $39 billion generated directly into economy as well as about 460,000 jobs (356). In addition to jobs and revenue, slaughter provide disposal of an unwanted horse in an economically and humane way (359). Local government animal control agencies bear the cost and responsibility of these neglected horses. These agencies are funded by your tax dollars, and the cost is estimated around $127 million the first year (367). These cost could be eliminated by removing the ban on horse slaughter, and then money will be brought back into our economy.
The horse slaughter ban should be lifted because the overall welfare of the horse has drastically decreased as an effect. The ban increases the number of neglected and abandoned horse left to starve to death. Horses are now required to travel a significant farther distance, on average more than 200 miles longer. Horses shipped to Mexico must be unloaded into pens on the border where they are required to stay for six hours in the blazing desert sun without adequate food and water (Anderson 140-141). Most horses rejected at the border are abandoned just North of the border, and other taken to feedlots and left to die. Horses are rejected due improper function of Transport Program, shipped even though unfit (Anderson 141-142). At an export pen in Texas, its estimated 35 horses per month die while waiting. Once horses cross the border they are no longer under USDA jurisdiction (Anderson 142). The intent for the ban of slaughter was to increase overall welfare, but instead the welfare of these horses has dropped tremendously. Horses are now forced to suffer because their owner can now longer tend to them resulting in inhumane treatment of the horse. The American Veterinary Medical Association considers two methods of slaughter humane the captive bolt method, and overdose of barbiturate anesthesia (Anderson 145-146). A humane practice of slaughter can be practiced in the United States to prevent and decrease in the horses’ welfare.
Horse slaughter should be brought back to the United States for economic benefits. Authors L. Leon Geyer and Dan Lawler suggest roughly 115,000 horses were slaughter per year by three U.S. facilities prior to the ban in the article “Yea or Neigh? The Economics, Ethics, and Utility of the Horsemeat Filet”. The slaughter of these horses brought roughly $65 million per year directly into our economy that is now being generated in Mexico and Canada (252). In the article “It Cost How Much To Get Rid Of My Horse?!? Why The Economic Down Turn Has Illustrated The Need For Horse Slaughter Facilities” writer Brenna Koehler explains rescue facilities can only care for about 13,400 unwanted horses a year. With roughly 125,000 unwanted horses a year and nowhere for owners to take them leaves owners to abandon or neglect these horses (378-379). The major increase of abandoned horses in the wild has caused tremendous damage to land along with other issues (380). “Each unwanted horse cost local taxpayers $3,600 per year”, with 125,000 unwanted horses that’s roughly $450 million per year (381). The ban of domestic slaughter forced owners to pay to dispose unwanted horses that once could be sold at auction for slaughter. Horse prices decreased 8% to 22% (Geyer et. al 252). The horse industry in the United States offers 460,000 jobs and generates $39 billion directly into the economy (Durfee 256). The ban of domestic horse slaughter has had a negative impact on our economy. These unwanted horses are now benefiting other countries economies, and costing the U.S. and its taxpayers a significant amount of money.
Domestic slaughter should be brought back for the production of horsemeat. The increase in population yearly will result in a need for proteins that horsemeat contains a high percentage of according to author Silvius Stanciu in the article “Horse Meat Consumption – Between Scandal and Reality” (702). Humans all over the world excluding the U.S. consume horsemeat (Geyer et. al 252). Americans believe horses should not be consumed because they consider them a companion animal instead of livestock, which is what they are classified as (Geyer et al. 253). Despite the beliefs of horsemeat being contaminated veterinarians and nutritional data verify horsemeat is healthy and safe for human consumption (Geyer et. al 250). Horsemeat can be closely related to beef; it is also categorized as red meat (Stanciu 701). Horsemeat can be prepared for consumption in a variety of ways (Stanciu 699). Beef and horsemeat are difficult to tell apart during processing (Stanciu 702). With strict regulation and proper facilitates horsemeat for human consumption is a nutritional substitute for beef or other red meats.
Some of our population believes horse slaughter is evil and inhumane describes author Tim Opitz in the article “The Tragedy Of The Horse, American Icon”. These people who are anti horse slaughter pushed for the ban of horse slaughter (357). They believe theses facilities do not follow all the regulations, and the captive bolt method, approved by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, is inhumane (364). No slaughter is easy to watch, but even these anti slaughter societies believe horses are being treated significantly more inhumane across the borders (365). The anti slaughter population continues to try to get permanent legislation passed banning horse slaughter but has been unsuccessful so far.
Several solutions have been attempted to regulate the welfare of these unwanted horses forced to travel thousands of miles and horse slaughter facilities, but none have fully succeeded. The Horse Transportation Act of 2009 fell through because of change in positions, and no one has brought it back up (Opitz 374). Recent attempts at a solution have tried banning the transport across borders for slaughter, but they do no think about what will happen to the overpopulation of horses (376). Attempts to open a horse slaughter facility for a solution for the unwanted horses are denied funds, which cause them to be unsuccessful (378).
In order for horse slaughter plants in the U.S. to be successfully regulated, the USDA must fund federal inspections as they do for other livestock. There will need to be strict laws that provide safety for employees and animals, as well as laws to ensure health risk are being prevented. The government must have highly qualified inspectors at every plant, which enforce these legislations and regulations. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act must approve all slaughter techniques used as humane. This will compromise with the population that believes slaughter is inhumane. The amount of revenue these plants bring to the U.S. will provide enough funding for inspections and employees.
In the future, if the unwanted horse problem from the ban of slaughter is not solved every city will have an abandoned horse left to die. As the horse population increases and no convenient, ethical way to dispose of them the number of unwanted horses continues to grow drastically. The more unwanted horses abandoned and left for the government or city to care for is more taxpayer’s money being spent. The opening of slaughter plants in the U.S. would benefit the problem of the unwanted horses welfare, provide economic benefits, and allow horsemeat for human consumption.
Anderson, Natalie. "Protecting Equine Welfare and International Consumers of Horse Meat: A Proposal for the Renewal of Horse Slaughter in the United States." San Diego International Law Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, Fall2015, pp. 125-164. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=112636504&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307.
Durfee, Laura Jane. "Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislation: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society." Indiana Law Journal, vol. 84, no. 1, Winter2009, pp. 353-371. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=36659936&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307.
Geyer, L. Leon and Dan Lawler. "Yea or Neigh? The Economics, Ethics, and Utility of the Horsemeat Filet." Journal of Food Law & Policy, vol. 9, no. 2, Fall2013, pp. 247-274. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=112566816&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307.
Holcomb, K. E., et al. "Unwanted Horses: The Role of Nonprofit Equine Rescue and Sanctuary Organizations." Journal of Animal Science, vol. 88, no. 12, Dec. 2010, pp. 4142-4150. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2527/jas.2010-3250.
Koehler, Brenna (Robinson). "It Costs How Much to Get Rid of My Horse?!? Why the Economic Down Turn Has Illustrated the Need for Horse Slaughter Facilities." Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, vol. 18, 01 July 2013, p. 375. EBSCOhost,
Lenz, T.R. "The Unwanted Horse in the United States: An Overview of the Issue." Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, vol. 29, no. 5, 01 May 2009, p. 253-258. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jevs.2009.04.001.
Opitz, Tim. "The Tragedy of the Horse, American Icon." Journal of Food Law & Policy, vol. 7, no. 2, Fall2011, pp. 357-382. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=112543839&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307.
Taylor, Mykel and Elizabeth Sieverkropp. "The Impacts of U.S. Horse Slaughter Plant Closures on a Western Regional Horse Market." Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, vol. 38, no. 1, Apr. 2013, pp. 48-63. EBSCOhost, doi:www.waeaonline.org/publications/jare/search-past-issues.
Stanciu, Silvius. "Horse Meat Consumption − between Scandal and Reality." Procedia Economics and Finance, vol. 23, no. 2nd Global Conference On Business, Economics, Management And Tourism, 01 Jan. 2015, pp. 697-703. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/S2212-5671(15)00392-5.