Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pro-Slaughter Propaganda from Montana

This article could really use some intelligent comments.

Horse owners concerned about proposed transportation legislation

Friday, December 19, 2008 8:58 AM MST

BILLINGS, Mont. - With close to 10 million horses in the nation, Montana horse owners and enthusiasts are concerned about the welfare of the equine industry if legislation is passed banning the transport of horses to slaughter facilities.

“H.R. 6598, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008, would ban the transportation of horses to slaughter, making it a federal crime,” explained Nancy Schlepp of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation during its equine seminar on Nov. 9 in Billings, Mont. “It would also affect the transportation of horses in general, such as to rodeos, ranches or for hunting.”

Horses have been transported to slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico since the Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruling shut down the Texas horse slaughter plants, and the Seventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals shut down the plant in Illinois.

Now, animal rights activists, such as the Humane Society of the United States, have been pushing for the passage of this bill, H.R. 6598, to further prevent horse slaughter, which they claim is an act of cruelty.

“H.R. 6598 addresses the inherent cruelty in allowing the slaughter of our horses for human consumption,” the organization states on its Web site,

Furthermore, the Humane Society of the United States said horses are a national symbol of beauty, which deserves respect and protection from slaughter.

However, horse slaughter in the United States was deemed humane by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“When horses to go Canada, they are treated in a humane manner,” said Bill Parker of the Billings Livestock Commis-sion horse sales division. “I know because I have a relationship with those guys. But, the horses that go to Mexico are not that lucky.”

“This Humane Society of the United States is not the Humane Society (Humane Society of America) that looks after the well being of dogs and cats,” said Schlepp. “The Humane Society of the United States is a subsidiary of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). They are creating a war on agriculture Š They have a lot of money and time to spend in (Washington) D.C.”

Horses are not pets, said Parker.

“My cat is my pet; my horse is my business,” he said. “People who make their living with horses take good care of their horses and livestock.”

Currently, the proposed legislation, H.R. 6598 has been voted through the judiciary committee of the House of Represen-tatives in Washington, D.C. The House would have passed the bill, had it not been blocked in the Senate, said Schlepp, who serves as the MFBF legislative advisor for national affairs.

The equine industry with its lowered base price is already suffering from the closure of the Texas and Illinois slaughter plants, said Schlepp.

“There have been reports of some horses being let out on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and Forest Service land in Montana,” she said. “There are 140,000 horses in the state that we know about.”

Owning a horse can be expensive. According to Parker, it costs the sale barn $5.65 for feed and a little labor to keep a horse in a lot each day. It would cost between $400 and $500 to keep a horse in a lot to prepare it for sale.

“The cheapest anyone could care for a horse is $5 a day,” he said.

Horse owners who cannot afford to keep their horses have been finding ways to get rid of them because they have no value, said Parker. If they have value, people will find ways to care for their horses, he noted.

Those in the Montana horse industry are concerned about the number of horses that would be affected and the cost of the consequences of this proposed legislation if it were to become law.

“It costs $1,500 to do the process of putting an animal down through the veterinarian's office,” said Jan Parker, who in on the MFBF horse welfare committee. “In Montana alone, it would cost $17 million to take care of these horses.”

The urban legislators pushing for the approval of H.R. 6598 are not concerned with the costs of dealing with the massive number of horse carcasses and how to dispose of them, added Schlepp.

The U.S. government cannot afford to feed all of the nation's horses, agreed Parker. “With the shape the economy is in now, the U.S. government cannot to feed all the unwanted horses,” he said. “I don't think it will ever happen - the government feeding the unwanted horses in feedlots. I think those horses will be turned loose.”

While there have been scattered reports across the nation about unwanted horses being left at stockyards, Parker said there have been no such instances at the Billings Livestock Commission.

The loss of the horse slaughter market in the United States cost U.S. horse owners between $30 and $40 in the base price for their horses, devaluing the nation's horses.

“It has taken profit away from the U.S. breeders and given it to those in foreign countries,” said Parker. “There are a large number of horses that have lost their usefulness and now something has to be done with them. The most sensible thing would be to process those horses.”

That said, Parker said he doesn't see the U.S. horse slaughter facilities reopening, even after meeting the individual states' demands in processing regulations.

“The U.S. slaughter plant reopening would be the best scenario because then the livestock owners could control how the horses are treated,” he said. “But, I don't think we'll ever see another horse slaughter plant in the United States mainly because they are foreign owned and I don't think those foreign owners will see a reason to spend the money to reopen the plants in this kind of environment.”

If H.R. 6598 passes, the horse industry will lose its safety net, said Parker. “I'm afraid this bill may become a reality and we won't be able to sell our horses as we see fit,” he said. “If this bill passes, it will not only affect the bottom end of the horse market, but go all the way to the top.”

Ranchers and other horse owners are going to have to make a lot of noise to combat H.R. 6598, said Parker. “We have very little financial backing and a lot of common sense,” he said. “We have got to fight this with a lot of noise and common sense because the people who are for this have a lot of financial backing and no common sense.”

Graham suggested farmers and ranchers reach out to those in urban areas, invite them to the farm or ranch and explain why the activities they see are important to the nation's food supply and to the ranchers' and farmers' livelihoods.

“We have to let our emotions show,” said Schlepp. “Let them know how we love our animals. That the decisions we make are really for the welfare of the animals.”

Comments »

Janine wrote on Dec 19, 2008 3:50 PM:

" You must have some awful rich vets out in Montana if they are charging $1,500 to put down a horse. We city folk only pay @$300 and that's including having the renderer out to pick up.

Slaughter only accounts for about a tenth of the horses who die every year from all causes. How do the other 90 percent of us horse owners manage?

If you want to raise the value of your horses, try training them to do something. That will raise their value far more than the $30 or $40 you claim lack of slaughter has cost. "



TV Station KHOU has done a powerful piece on the USDA cruelty documents that Julie Caramante and Animal's Angels received through her FOIA. It features Steve Long and Julie and it is both powerful and graphic.

Here is a text version off of Texas Cable News
Thousands of U.S. horses slaughtered in Mexico for food
10:56 PM CST on Friday, December 19, 2008
By Brad Woodard / 11 News
Steve Long is a noted author as well as editor of Texas Horse Talk magazine. You can say he knows horses.

Thousands of U.S. horses slaughtered in Mexico
December 19, 2008

“They are the essence of beauty, everything about them, the way they move, the way they talk to each other, their personalities, they’re just magnificent,” he said.
He says that horses are not only deeply woven into the fabric of Texas History, but they are also great icons of the American West.
Still, despite that honor, records show that nearly 50,000 U.S. horses have been transported to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for slaughter and ultimately destined for the dinner tables in Europe and Japan.
“It’s an obscenity. It’s a horror. It’s something that makes me want to throw up,” said Long.

Records show that nearly 50,000 U.S. horses have been transported to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for slaughter and ultimately destined for the dinner tables in Europe and Japan.
Believe it or not, Long isn’t talking about the slaughtering practices in Mexico, although he finds them disturbing.
Long is talking about the horse slaughter industry, that until recently, thrived here in Texas and the United States.
“This is the biggest animal rights scandal since the Michael Vick case. This is slaughtergate,” said Long.
In fact, records show that there are two Belgian owned horse slaughtering facilities in the state. He says one of the facilities, Dallas Crowe, is in Kaufman, Texas and that the other facility, Beltex, is located in Fort Worth.
In 2006, 11 News reported that employees at both facilities used captive bolt guns and air guns on the horses instead of knives. That technique involves driving a steel bolt into a the brain of a horse.
Both Texas facilities were forced to close last year. Officials say that the closure came after a federal appeals court upheld a 1949 state law banning horse slaughter for human consumption.
Despite that action the slaughter horse business continues.
Julie Caramante is an animal cruelty investigator for the organization called Animal’s Angels and she often works undercover.
She said that it took her three years to obtain photos that document violations of the transportation of horses taken to Beltex between January and November of 2005.
“I saw horses that were dead in trailers, with their legs ripped off, with their faces smashed in, eyeballs dangling, and these horses, some of them were still alive. They were just standing there,” said Caramante.
Many of the injuries reportedly occurred when the horses were transported on double-decker trailers designed to haul cattle.
The U.S. banned that type of action last year, but there’s a loophole, said Caramante. She says that the double-deckers can still be used to haul horses thousands of miles to feedlots, like the one in Morton, Texas. It’s owned by the Belgian company, Beltex.
“They feed them and get them fattened up. The ones that live go to El Paso and then off to the plant in Mexico,” said Caramante.
While it’s currently illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption in Texas, 11 News has found that at least two states are considering measures that would make it legal.
Those who support horse slaughter say they’d like to see it resume here in the U.S. because of laws that protect horses from cruelty. They say it is a well regulated industry that provided humane euthanasia.
“Such things are laughable. And it would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. U.S. humane laws have done nothing for the horse,” said Long.
E-mail 11 News reporter Brad Woodard