Friday, 08/11/06

Pass horse slaughter bill

Three U.S. plants - two in Texas and one in Illinois - slaughter
horses and ship the meat to foreign countries where horse meat is
considered a delicacy.

Certainly, eating habits vary drastically around the world, and all
U.S. industry doesn't necessary have to conform with U.S. customs.
But if U.S. culture counts for anything, Congress will outlaw this
practice on U.S. soil.

The three Belgian-owned plants reportedly slaughtered 65,000 last
year, shipping the meat for human consumption in Europe and Asia.
Some goes to zoos for animal feed. The industry has existed for
years, but it came into harsh public scrutiny in 2002 when it was
reported that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand had been
slaughtered in Japan for human consumption.

Last year, Congress believed it had ended the practice; it passed a
bill barring the Department of Agriculture from paying for the
inspection of the slaughter facilities. But the plants bypassed the
law by paying the inspectors themselves. Now a bill moving through
Congress would make it illegal to possess, donate or transfer a horse
for human consumption. It should pass.

Industry representatives say that the horses brought to their plants
are worn out, lame or unwanted but otherwise healthy. They say that
the slaughterhouses give horse owners an option for disposing of the
horse that puts money in their pockets instead of costing them money
to have a horse put down. And they say the slaughter methods are

They also say if the industry is outlawed, the businesses will ship
the horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter and that Congress has no
right to ban a private, $60 million industry.

Congress' business is representing the public, and judging from
Congress' overwhelming vote in 2005, the public finds this practice
barbaric. Other nations may make no distinction between cattle and
horses, but the bond between horses and humans is strong throughout
U.S. history. Congress should tell these businesses to take their
profits and their horseflesh out of the U.S.