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Cavel: returning to DeKalb
Horse bill tabled
November 20, 2003
Article by:
Mark Bieganski - Editor in chief
Personal profile


State Rep. Robert S. Molaro (D-Chicago) temporarily withdrew a state bill Wednesday that could have banned the slaughtering of horses for exportation.

The decision was made out of respect for the late Rep. David Wirsing (R-Sycamore), who died Sunday of a heart attack.

However, the bill, SB 1921, will be reintroduced in January 2004 to the Illinois House, said Karen Smith, Molaro’s chief of staff.

If the bill is passed by the House and Senate, it would cause DeKalb’s Cavel International to cease its operations. The facility, 108 Harvestore Drive, is under reconstruction after it was closed in March 2002 because of a fire. Police suspected arson in the incident, which caused $2 million in damages. No charges were filed.

Cavel coverage
Past Northern Star reports

Fire engulfed Cavel building
Foul play suspected in Cavel fire; authorities still investigating blaze.

Investigators: Arson possible in Cavel fire
After two days of investigation by the DeKalb police and fire departments, federal agents were called in to investigate Tuesday.

Agencies close Cavel case
After four days of examination from local and national investigators, the probe has ceased.

Cavel International to rebuild
Horse-slaughtering plant will be reopened in February 2004, creating up to 50 new jobs.

Cavel takes 'risk'
Horse-slaughtering plant set to reopen DeKalb location amid controversy.

Cavel timeline

March 2002
Cavel International, which opened in 1987, burned to the ground, causing nearly $2 million in damages. Police suspected arson in the case, but no charges were filed.

February 2003
U.S. HR 857 was introduced by U.S. Rep. John E. Sweeney (R-New York). The bill would ban the slaughtering of horses in and from the United States for human consumption.

Illinois SB 1921 was introduced by Illinois Sen. Vince Demuzio (D-Carlinville). The bill would amend the Agricultural Fair Act, which at the time did not mention horse slaughtering provisions.

March 2003
U.S. HR 857 was referred to the House Trade subcommittee.

Illinois SB 1921 was passed by the Illinois Senate and referred to the house.

September 2003
Cavel owners announce plans to rebuild the horse slaughtering plant.

October 2003
Illinois HB 3845 was first introduced by Rep. Robert S. Molaro (D-Chicago). The bill would make it illegal to slaughter a horse or possess, import or export horse meat from another state. The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee for review on Oct. 23.

November 2003
On Tuesday, a State House Executive Committee reviewed SB 1921, which included an amendment to the Senate bill that would ban the slaughter of horses in and from Illinois for human consumption. It was passed 7-3 by the executive committee and referred to the House for a vote. However, Molaro withdrew the bill with intentions to introduce it again in January.

December 2003
Building reconstruction for Cavel is expected to be completed. New equipment, which would allow up to 100 horses to be processed a day, is expected to be installed by mid-February.

January 2004
Molaro is expected to reintroduce SB 1921 to the House.

Early 2004
Expected reopening of Cavel.

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The postponement now gives Cavel time to complete its reconstruction and lobby against the bill.

“This was a bad bill,” said Cavel attorney Brett Brown. “It attempts to legislate morality, and it’s unconstitutional.”

When the bill originally was introduced in the Senate, it contained no mention of horse slaughtering. However, an amendment added in the House called for the bill to ban the slaughtering of horses for exportation in Illinois.

It is illegal to eat horse meat in the United States. However, it is legal to slaughter horses and export their meat to other countries. Most horse meat is exported to European countries.

The amendment to SB 1912 mirrors that of another Illinois bill, HB 3845, which also would ban the slaughtering. Currently, HB 3845 is being reviewed by a House committee.

“There a lot of things going on with this behind the scenes, but I think when we shone the spotlight on what the implications were, it just was not the right thing to do,” Brown said. “I think everyone here thinks it’s appropriate to pay some respect to Dave [Wirsing] because he was opposed to the bill.”

In October, Wirsing voiced his opposition to the Northern Star, saying Cavel has been a business in the district for years, and people’s main concern over the slaughtering had to do with individual morals.

The Belgium-owned company has been scrutinized in the past by groups who believe it treats horses inhumanely.

Sen. Brad Burzynski (R-Sycamore) still remains opposed to the bill, and said he hopes the postponement will allow more time for education.

“I think that provides an opportunity to educate people relative to what’s going on with [Cavel],” he said.

If the bill is reintroduced and passes through the House, he said he intends to work toward keeping the bill from passing through Senate committees.

“I think it’s a significant victory because it will allow the plant to reopen,” Brown said. “Once the plant is open and fully staffed with employees, the prejudice that will result from shutting it down will be greater.”

James Tucker, Cavel’s controller, said the withdrawal will allow the horse slaughtering issue to be studied more, and will hopefully help people properly understand it.

“If it does come up again, we’ll have time to reason people and show that it’s a needed business and an advantage for Illinois to have,” Tucker said. “People still have strong feelings about it, and they’re going to continue to have those feelings. We have a stronger feeling that we are treating animals humanely.”

Without Wirsing’s representation, Tucker said the district is at a disadvantage because he was a good friend to the agriculture industry.

Another bill, HR 857, is being reviewed by the U.S. House of Representatives and would outlaw horse slaughtering in the United States.

The bill, “The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act,” aims to prohibit the slaughter of horses in the U.S. for human consumption, and prohibit the trade and transport of horse flesh and live horses intended for human consumption and other purposes.

Congressional supporters of the bill have found that horses have played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States, and they are not raised for food or fiber.

The bill also states that about 55,000 American horses are slaughtered for human consumption annually in the United States by foreign-owned slaughter houses; tens of thousands of live horses are exported from the United States annually for slaughter. Under new specifications, Cavel will be able to process up to 100 horses per day for exportation.

Molaro could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.


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