Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More on US Horse Slaughter Legislation: Important Summations of the Bill

This article provides a few additional points about the proposed Horse slaughter legislation. In particular, it shows what it is and what it is not. For one, it is not an outright ban on slaughter or horses. Instead, it would ban horse slaughter for human consumption. It would also ban the shipment of horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

It also clearly shows how fierce the opposition is. And as would be suspected, this is mainly money and political interests who instead look to rhetoric and money as excuses to continue this horrifying practice.

Here are a few paragraphs taken from the article below. They provide a summation of the important points.

Pickens said nearly all thoroughbreds, Arabians, quarter horses and wild mustangs sent to the plants are healthy young horses that he said the USDA has said are in "good to excellent" condition. He questioned why the state allows foreign countries, that he said pay little taxes, to slaughter American horses for consumption abroad.

"They should slaughter their own horses, not American horses," he said.

Congress tried to end the slaughter of horses last year by overwhelmingly approving legislation eliminating funding of Agriculture Department horse meat inspectors. But USDA is offering inspections on a fee-for-service basis to the plants.

The proposed legislation does not ban the slaughter of horses outright. Instead it bans shipping, transportation, delivery, receiving, buying or selling or donating of horses for slaughter for human consumption, putting it under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill also would prevent sending horses from the U.S. to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered.

Sweeney said he took that route because the Agriculture Committee has sat on previous legislation seeking to ban the horse slaughter and not given it a hearing.

The full Energy and Commerce Committee's scheduled a vote on the bill on Wednesday.

The House Agriculture Committee plans to consider and vote on the legislation on Thursday.

Article:

Texas lawmaker ends support for ban on horse slaughter

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4072150.html


By SUZANNE GAMBOA

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Supporters of a ban on horse slaughter lost a valuable congressional ally today but hoped for a boost from Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens joining their cause.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, said in the first hearing on a proposal on the divisive issue that he no longer supports legislation aimed at ending the slaughter of horses in the United States for consumption overseas.

Barton said he previously supported the bill sponsored by fellow Republican U.S. Reps. John Sweeney of New York and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, but dropped his support after learning more about it.

"The agriculture community and rural America just is totally against the bill," he explained in a hearing break.

Pickens, a major Republican contributor, chastised his own state for being home to two horse slaughter plants. The third is in Illinois.

"This is a black eye on our state and nation that demands action," Pickens, of Dallas, told the panel.

Pickens said nearly all thoroughbreds, Arabians, quarter horses and wild mustangs sent to the plants are healthy young horses that he said the USDA has said are in "good to excellent" condition. He questioned why the state allows foreign countries, that he said pay little taxes, to slaughter American horses for consumption abroad.

"They should slaughter their own horses, not American horses," he said.

Congress tried to end the slaughter of horses last year by overwhelmingly approving legislation eliminating funding of Agriculture Department horse meat inspectors. But USDA is offering inspections on a fee-for-service basis to the plants.

The bill has 201 co-sponsors. Republican leaders have scheduled a vote for Sept. 7.
But opposition is fierce. The hearing on the bill stretched over about three hours and had to move to a larger room because of interest. Witnesses' comments were met with applause and gasps from some attending the hearing.

"This legislation is woefully inadequate, emotionally misguided and fails to serve the best interest of the American horse and horse owner," said Virginia Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee.

Dick Koehler, vice president of Beltex Corp., owner of a Fort Worth-based horse slaughter plant, urged lawmakers not to eliminate an entire industry, "just because animal rights activists find the product of this law abiding, tax paying legitimate business to be distasteful."

The proposed legislation does not ban the slaughter of horses outright. Instead it bans shipping, transportation, delivery, receiving, buying or selling or donating of horses for slaughter for human consumption, putting it under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill also would prevent sending horses from the U.S. to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered.

Sweeney said he took that route because the Agriculture Committee has sat on previous legislation seeking to ban the horse slaughter and not given it a hearing.

The full Energy and Commerce Committee's scheduled a vote on the bill on Wednesday. The House Agriculture Committee plans to consider and vote on the legislation on Thursday.
Divisions in the issue are not neat. They split members of the same party, horse associations, veterinarians and others and create unusual coalitions such as in the case of Pickens, who is on the same side as animal rights activists.

Supporters of the ban said horses are mistreated and abused when they are sent to horse plants by being shipped in inhumane conditions and are sometimes alive when they are being slaughtered. In addition, they say horses in this country have iconic status and are not raised for food.

"Would we ever serve a bald eagle in this country?" Sweeney asked.

But opponents say horses are euthanized humanely before they are slaughtered, their transport is heavily regulated and would suffer a worse death of starvation and neglect if slaughter was eliminated.

"Where do you get the money to foot the bill?" asked U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

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