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Sunday, April 19, 2009

US fears horse harvest ban a step to veganism

Reposted with thanks to: Beth in Illinois Fighting to End Horse Slaughter

Read Article at: Stock&Land


US fears horse harvest ban a step to veganism

15/04/2009 3:19:00 PM

At the core of the current horse harvesting debate in the United States is animal agriculture's concern that the criminalisation of one animal-based protein source - horse meat - could be a stepping stone toward making all meat consumption illegal.
At the recent National Institute for Animal Agriculture meeting, Essie Rogers, director of education for the Kentucky Horse Council, said the issue of horse harvesting has become so divisive that the council itself and its board are split 50/50 over whether horses should be harvested for human consumption.

Horses would go from being assets to liabilities

Precedent being set for all meat

Private property rights in jeopardy

On the political side, Rogers said there is human nature in that horse owners don't want to admit they can no longer care for their horses and are unwilling to give them up.

There's also a mental side in which hoarders own more horses than they can handle but don't recognise that they do, she said, and there are family traditions in which owners care for their horses in the way preceding generations did, but that way is no longer adequate.

Those factors are not controllable, said Rogers.

Even law enforcement officers often won't enforce laws for political reasons in that they feel they won't get re-elected, out of ignorance of not understanding the laws or because it's too expensive to round up and care for horses during enforcement actions, Rogers said.

"We need to educate owners, veterinarians, law enforcement officers, county officials and the public," she said.

Republican Sue Wallis, of Wyoming, agrees and has just completed an information paper addressing the issue of horse harvesting and the fundamentals of animal agriculture.

According to Wallis, efforts to criminalise horse meat have become such a significant threat that the rights of Americans are close to being abruptly curtailed.

Well-financed animal rights organisations, and even well-intentioned but uninformed horse lovers, are behind the push, she said.

Recognising the significance of the issue, Wallis noted that support for horse harvesting has been growing among states, tribal governments, organisations and animal agriculture.

She said it appears that legislative action is taking place in a number of states - including Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming - and legislative efforts in support of the horse industry are being considered for introduction in a number of other states, including Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

"All of this activity is focused on convincing Congress to oppose legislation that would restrict the market, transport, processing or export of horses, to recognise the need for humane horse processing facilities in the US and not to interfere with state efforts to establish facilities in the US," Wallis said.

Serious legislative efforts to reverse court actions in Texas and Illinois and reopen horse processing facilities in those states have been joined recently by proactive legislation to encourage investment in horse processing facilities in North Dakota and Montana.

Wallis and others agree it is unlikely that any foreign investor will take the risk of investing in a horse harvesting plant anywhere in the US until bills pending in Congress have been defeated: H.R. 503, the 2009 Prevention of Cruelty to Equines Act, and S. 727, Prohibit Horses for Human Consumption.

"This misguided legislation would make it a felony for any person to transport or sell any horse for slaughter. If passed, it would result in a number of devastating and far-reaching consequences," Wallis said.

To start with, the legislation would, for the first time, prohibit Americans from using or selling a domestic animal as food.

"Once it has been legally determined that the process of killing horses is in and of itself inherently cruel to animals, then there really is no difference between that and telling dairies that they can no longer market steer calves and old cows for beef, no difference between that and making it illegal to use sheep for anything except wool," she said.

Noting that animal agriculture is a business, Wallis said prohibiting horse owners from a salvage market is the same as prohibiting a rental car company from selling their cars once they have so many miles on them.

The legislation also would transform horses from valuable assets to expensive liabilities. Economic incentives to keep, breed and improve the species will be massively affected, and ranchers, breeders, trainers and all related equine service industries will see their livelihoods greatly diminished.

Similarly, Wallis said, rural communities that are based, in part, on the horse industry would be deeply hurt, and with the entire US economy in shambles, the communities' ability to adapt, recover and transform themselves into something else would be limited.

Most importantly, the private property rights of individual citizens and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of states to regulate and conduct commerce would be totally compromised, she said.

"For that reason alone, every American should be deeply concerned about whether they have ever set foot off of pavement or ever touched a living animal," Wallis said.

To regulate the average citizen's diet or attempt to alter the diet patterns of other nations is an immense expansion of government powers, Wallis noted, and it is ethically and morally wrong to waste a nutrient-dense food source in a hungry world.

Historically, 1-2pc of horses sold in the US made their way into the food chain.

Among those groups opposed to harvesting horses for human consumption is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The organisation has long worked to "protect horses and other equines in our society from abuse, neglect and slaughter for human consumption".

HSUS states on its web site that it considers horse harvesting a "gruesome and unnecessary practice".

Read Article at:Stock&Land


All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. ~ Thomas Jefferson

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