Updated Friday, April 23, 2004

Daily Chronicle
Letter about Cavel was misleading



In Mr. Zahm's letter on Tues-day, we again hear misinformation passed on as fact. I don't think Mr. Zahm has reviewed any arguments in favor of this industry except as restated by our opposition because his statements are so false.

Consumption of horse meat is not illegal in the United States and is specifically allowed in seven states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia. Many states passed laws severely restricting the sale of horse meat in the 1950s as a response to false labeling during World War II. The Illinois law is mostly about labeling of the product.

Mr. Zahm's description of the horses we purchase also shows he does not know what he is talking about. If he had talked to large- animal veterinarians and most horse owners, he would recognize that these animals are not "otherwise viable." Horses are beautiful creatures, but they are often not docile and can be untrainable and dangerous. This is not just our opinion, but the expert opinion of well-respected veterinarians and veterinarian teachers. Horses also can have maladies that an experienced horseman knows are terminal.

The idea that there are facilities that are willing to adopt 100,000 marginal animals per year is absurd. It costs $300 to $400 per month to maintain a horse if it is in good health. Costs of medical care, farriers, etc. can drive this cost up dramatically. I don't think this is realistic. On the other hand, if someone were willing to spend $400 per month to keep an unusable horse, you would think they would also spend $400 at an auction buying up a horse otherwise purchased by a plant.

Mr. Zahm also referred to "high-powered lobbying" by those in favor of the plant. I almost laughed at this, comparing the small amount of funds we have available for this effort against the hundreds of thousands available to the opposition. We have been helped in our lobbying effort by groups that are concerned about the legislation. This in-cludes the DeKalb and Illinois farm bureaus, which are concerned about limitations on livestock owners, Illinois Association of Meat Processors, Horsemen's Council of Illinois and others, but this is hardly "high-powered." Legislators who have an agricultural constituency are opposed to the bill. It is the legislators who don't have an agricultural constituency but are fed the kind of misinformation that Mr. Zahm peddles who are the ones who support the bill. The sponsors of the bills limiting slaughter have successfully kept the bills out of the agricultural committees of the Illinois House and Senate where they can be debated rationally. Instead they have been routed to the executive committees where they seem to be the basis of some political deal. The worst effect of all this is that this drains resources from a company that has operated in DeKalb for 17 years in an industry that has existed in the United States for hundreds of years.

Mr. Zahm's letter also includes the usual and misleading description of the plant's operations. Again, he should have talked to a large-animal veterinarian. In-stead, he insulted our workers and all other workers in meatpacking who provide us with food every day.


Cavel International Inc.