Tuesday, June 29, 2004
The Roanoke Times

Goodlatte defends horse bill  http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story169020.html 

4-line readin goes here.

By Shawntaye Hopkins



    LEXINGTON - Several supporters of a bill that would stop the slaughter of horses in and from the United States gathered at a town hall meeting Monday afternoon conducted by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte.

    As chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Goodlatte has not allowed the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, HR 857, to be voted on. People - many from the 6th Congressional District that Goodlatte represents - overflowed a room in the Rockbridge County Administration Building wanting to know why.

    A few people brought their horses.

    Although more than half of the 435 U.S. Representatives have co-sponsored the legislation, Goodlatte said banning the process for dealing with unwanted horses would cause horse abuse and neglect to increase.

    The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Equine Practitioners have voiced concerns regarding horse welfare if slaughtering is banned, Goodlatte said.

    "I have to use my conscience and my best judgment in deciding how to vote on a bill," the Roanoke Republican said.

    The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Sweeney of New York, was introduced and referred to the House Agriculture Committee in February 2003.

    "He [Goodlatte] has basically stonewalled it and will not let it go anywhere," said Gerri Wenz of Glasgow, one of the people who helped organize the groups who attended the meeting. "What makes him the authority on the issue?" she asked.

    But Goodlatte said only eight of the 51 members of the agriculture committee are co-sponsors of the bill. The bill must pass in committee before it can get to the House floor.

    Many of the bill's supporters in the House have not "spent five minutes on the bill," Goodlatte said.

    HR 857, if passed, would prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption; prohibit the sale, possession and trade of horseflesh for human consumption; and prohibit the sale, possession and trade of live horses for slaughter for human consumption.

    Goodlatte said he does not encourage horse slaughtering.

    There are three slaughterhouses that accept horses in the United States - two in Texas and one in Illinois. About 55,000 American horses are slaughtered at the foreign-owned houses annually. Thousands are exported from the United States for slaughter.

    Anne Russek of Natural Bridge said horses in the United States shouldn't be slaughtered because Americans don't eat horse meat.

    Russek said there is no evidence that more horses will be abused or neglected if slaughtering is banned.

    She said many of the organizations that oppose the bill are slaughtering companies, and the members of the horse organizations have not been polled.

    Goodlatte suggested that the audience should talk to leaders of those organizations about their positions.

    A companion Senate bill, S 2352, was introduced in April 2004, sponsored by Sen. John Ensign of Nevada. The bill has been referred to the Senate committee on agriculture, nutrition and forestry.