CONGRESSIONAL RECORD-HOUSE H2546 May 4, 2004 HORSE
SLAUGHTERING FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. COLE). Under the
Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr.
WHITFIELD) is recognized until midnight, approximately 40 minutes. Mr.
WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, the first Saturday in May is a special day in the heart
of anyone who considers themselves to be a Kentuckian.
It is also a special day in the heart of anyone, whether they live outside of Kentucky or not, whether they are a citizen of some other country of the world, but if that person has a special affinity for a breed of horse called the thoroughbred, the first Saturday in May is a special day because it is on that day that the Kentucky Derby is raced each year.
This past Saturday, the 130th running of the Kentucky Derby was held in Louisville, Kentucky, and a chestnut colt by the name of Smarty Jones won the race this year. His jockey was Stewart Elliott. His trainer was John Servis. His owners are Pat and Roy Chapman; and as you would expect, winning a race of such importance, they were quite ecstatic. They were happy; they were enthusiastic; they had a large celebration.
I have in my hand a picture of another chestnut colt who won the Kentucky Derby in 1986. This horse was the son of a famous sire called Naginski II. The name of this horse is Ferdinand. The jockey on this horse in 1986 was Willie Shoemaker, and the House of Representatives 6 weeks ago did a resolution in honor of Willie Shoemaker. The trainer of Ferdinand in 1986 was a gentleman named Charlie Wittingham of California. The owners of Ferdinand were Mr. and Mrs. Howard Keck of California; and on that first Saturday in May in 1986, the Keck family and their friends and the trainer and the jockey celebrated with great enthusiasm, in the same way that Smarty Jones and the Chapmans celebrated Smarty Jones winning that race. When Ferdinand won that race in 1986, the next year, 1987, he went on to win the Breeders' Cup by defeating the 1987 winner of the Kentucky Derby, a horse named Ali Sheba; and in 1987, Ferdinand also was selected Horse of the Year. When Ferdinand retired from racing, he was the fifth leading money winner in the history of racing, winning over $3.7 million; and like most horses of his caliber, he was retired for breeding purposes because he had a champion pedigree and he had a champion heart. On the death of Howard Keck, Ferdinand was syndicated and sold to a Japanese company called J.S. Company, owner of a breeding farm in Japan called Arrow Stud Farm which is located on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan; and Ferdinand went there in 1994, and he was there for about six breeding seasons. Initially, he was very popular; but over time, he lost popularity in Japan, and Arrow Stud, either working with or in conjunction with a horse trainer named Watanabe, gained possession of this horse, Ferdinand; and to make a long story short, Ferdinand was slaughtered in a Japanese slaughterhouse.
So this was the fifth leading money winner of all time, won the 1986 Kentucky Derby, was 1987 Horse of the Year, won the Breeders' Cup and was slaughtered in Japan. Interestingly enough, the Keck family of California, before they realized that Ferdinand had been slaughtered in 2002, did everything possible to locate Ferdinand; and they wanted to bring him back to their farm in California for retirement, and finally they found out, it was acknowledged that Ferdinand was slaughtered in Japan. Other than the Keck family and those who followed the horse industry, this was just another story with a tragic ending.
However, it was a story that ended up in the newspapers and periodicals around the world, and from those stories, we suddenly came to realize that in the United States horses are being slaughtered in two locations for human consumption; and the horse meat is being exported to Japan, Italy, France, and Belgium. There are only two places that this is occurring today. One plant is owned by a French family operating in Kaufman, Texas. The other plant is owned by a Belgian family operated in and around Fort Worth, Texas; and each year they are slaughtering about 45,000 horses in those two plants.
What makes this quite interesting is that the former Attorney General of Texas, who now is in the United States Senate, Mr. JOHN CORNYN, was asked in 2002 for a legal opinion on whether or not the slaughter of horses for human consumption in Texas violated Texas State law. In his opinion, which he rendered in August, Mr. CORNYN, as Attorney General of Texas, issued a ruling that, yes, it is a violation of Texas State law to slaughter a horse, possess a horse, transport a horse for human consumption. He also went on to say it is a criminal offense; and yet, despite this opinion, the two plants in Texas, one owned by a French family, one owned by a Belgian family, filed a lawsuit, and they continued to slaughter horses for human consumption in Texas.
Unlike cattle and pigs and other types of animals, horses in the history of the United States have never been a part of the food chain; and for that reason, Members of the United States Congress, under the leadership, and he has provided tremendous leadership, of the gentleman from New York (Mr. SWEENEY), a Republican, and the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. SPRATT), a Democrat, both of them introduced legislation to prohibit the slaughter or transport with intent of slaughtering horses for human consumption.
This legislation, as one would expect, has the support of a lot of so- called animal rights groups; but as a Representative of a rural district in Kentucky where we have a lot of livestock, I have never been particularly involved with so-called animal rights groups. But in addition to animal rights groups, we have a large list of businesses who are supporting this legislation because horses have never been a part of the food chain in America. I want to just read a few of them: Blue Horse Charities; Churchhill Downs; Eaton Sales; Fasig-Tipton Company, one of the largest thoroughbred auctioneers in the country; John Gaines, the founder of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship; the Hambletonian Society; the National
Thoroughbred Racing Association; the National Steeplechase Association; the New York Racing Association; the Texas Thoroughbred Association opposes slaughter. And I could go on and on and on. So we have all of these groups that are supporting this legislation to stop the slaughter of horses for human consumption by a French family and a Belgian family to be exported to Europe. And there are only two organizations willing to publicly state that they oppose the legislation to stop the slaughter. One of them is the American Quarter Horse Association headquartered in Amarillo, Texas, although
I can tell you we have hundreds of letters from quarter horse owners from around the country who support this legislation; and then the other group, the American Equine Practitioners political arm, has said they oppose this legislation, although we have hundreds of letters from veterinarians from around the country who provide care for horses, say they support this legislation.
Now, one of the sad things about this whole episode of slaughtering horses is that the United States Department of Agriculture has regulations that supposedly regulate the method by which these horses are transported to slaughter. They allow them to be transported in double-decker trailers even though the regulations state that we recognize that many horses will be injured in this process, and they allow stallions to be placed with other stallions which any horseman knows should never be done.
Stallions placed with mares, stallions placed with foals, crowded in double- decker trailers. The Department of Agriculture regulations state we recognize that many of these horses do not have enough head room and so they are bent over. They arrive at the slaughterhouse injured, some dead. They are allowed to be transported up to 28 hours without food, water, or drink; and yet any commercial transporter of horses will tell you that a horse should never be transported for over 7 hours without food, water or exercise, and yet the Federal Department of Agriculture regulations allow 28, up to 30 hours; and
even then it frequently is not enforced.
So moving the horses to slaughter is a very inhumane action. And then at the slaughterhouse, the execution is carried out with a captive bolt administered by unprofessionals or nonprofessionals. The horses' heads are not held, and frequently they have to do three or four jolts before the horse is stunned enough to have his throat slit. It is not a very welcoming sight. And yet because of the method by which this is carried out, the only two entities performing slaughter of horses today are a Belgian company and a French company. In the United States Congress right now without much effort we already have 214 cosponsors of this legislation to stop this practice, primarily because of the efforts of the gentleman from New York (Mr. SWEENEY) and the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. SPRATT), and I might also say that we do have a very strong coalition working together; and Bo Derek, who is an owner of horses, has become involved in this issue and has made a big difference as well. I went with the President of the American Equine Practitioners, who is a veterinarian who opposes this legislation, to the United States Senate; and we had a meeting with JOHN ENSIGN, the Senator from Nevada, who is a veterinarian, and he listened to the debate on the issue. When the debate was over, JOHN ENSIGN made a decision that he was going to introduce this legislation on the Senate side, and has done so with a cosponsor, MARY LANDRIEU, the Democrat from Louisiana. They have a number of cosponsors over there.
So this is legislation that is picking up some real support. I want to take this opportunity to inform Members that it is our intention to continue to push this legislation even though we face many obstacles still within certain points within the House of Representatives. But when this is over, we are going to have in the neighborhood of 230, 240, 250, at a minimum, cosponsors of this legislation.
Now, there is a writer named Matthew Scully, who is a former literary agent of the National Review and an occasional speech writer for President Bush; and he recently wrote a book entitled ``Dominion.'' And in his book, Mr. Scully affirms man's dominion over animals, which is certainly true; we have dominion over animals. But he also reminds us of our responsibility to animals. To quote Mr. Scully: ``The care of animals brings with it often complicated problems of economics, ecology, and science. But above all, it confronts us with questions of conscience. Many of us seem to have lost all sense of restraint towards animals and understanding of natural boundaries, a respect for them as creatures with needs and wants and a place and a purpose of their own. Too often, to casually, we assume that our interests always come first, and if it is profitable or expedient, that is all we need to know. Sometimes we are called to treat animals with kindness, not because they have rights, not because they have power, not because they have any claim to equality, but in a sense because they do not, because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.
``It is true that the welfare of animals is not high on most people's priority list and kindness to animals is among the humbler duties of human charity, though for just that reason among the more easily neglected, and it is true there will always be enough injustice and human suffering in the world to make the wrong done to animals seem small and even insignificant.''
Matthew Scully goes on and says perhaps that is part of the animal's role among us, to awaken humility and compassion. We have the power, we have the rights, we have the dominion over animals; and that is precisely why I believe that the gentleman from New York's bill and the gentleman from South Carolina's bill is so important, because it will be the first time that I know of that we have had a debate in the United States Congress on this important issue facing our old friend.
At the horse park in Lexington, Kentucky, there is an inscription that says, ``Civilization was built on the back of a horse.'' So we are going to have a debate in this Congress on whether or not a French company and a Belgian company should violate Texas State law to slaughter our horses to export to Belgium, Italy, France, and Japan horse meat for human consumption, particularly when you consider that horses have never been a part of the food chain in our country. As we approach the midnight hour and these Special Orders come to a close, I want to once again reiterate that a lot of what has happened on this legislation was the result of what happened to the horse Ferdinand in Japan at Arrow Stud Farm.
Under the continued leadership of the gentleman from New York (Mr. SWEENEY) and the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. SPRATT) and the 214 cosponsors as of today of this legislation and Senators JOHN ENSIGN and MARY LANDRIEU and the other Senators who have introduced this legislation on the Senate side, it is our intent to pursue our goal of making it illegal to slaughter horses in the U.S. for human consumption.