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Thread: Horse meat may be back on the menu

  1. #1
    fgg
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    Default Horse meat may be back on the menu

    Horse meat may be back on the menu

    Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month.

    Slaughter opponents pushed a measure cutting off funding for horse meat inspections through Congress in 2006 after other efforts to pass outright bans on horse slaughter failed in previous years. Congress lifted the ban in a spending bill President Barack Obama signed into law Nov. 18 to keep the government afloat until mid-December.

    It did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending.

    The USDA issued a statement Tuesday saying there are no slaughterhouses in the U.S. that butcher horses for human consumption now, but if one were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed. USDA spokesman Neil Gaffney declined to answer questions beyond what was in the statement.

    The last U.S. slaughterhouse that butchered horses closed in 2007 in Illinois, and animal welfare activists warned of massive public outcry in any town where a slaughterhouse may open.

    "If plants open up in Oklahoma or Nebraska, you'll see controversy, litigation, legislative action and basically a very inhospitable environment to operate," predicted Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of The Humane Society of the United States. "Local opposition will emerge and you'll have tremendous controversy over slaughtering Trigger and Mr. Ed."

    But pro-slaughter activists say the ban had unintended consequences, including an increase in neglect and the abandonment of horses, and that they are scrambling to get a plant going — possibly in Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or Missouri. They estimate a slaughterhouse could open in 30 to 90 days with state approval and eventually as many as 200,000 horses a year could be slaughtered for human consumption. Most of the meat would be shipped to countries in Europe and Asia, including France and Japan.

    Dave Duquette, president of the nonprofit, pro-slaughter group United Horsemen, said no state or site has been picked yet but he's lined up plenty of investors who have expressed interest in financing a processing plant. While the last three slaughterhouses in the U.S. were owned by foreign companies, he said a new plant would be American-owned.

    "I have personally probably five to 10 investors that I could call right now if I had a plant ready to go," said Duquette, who lives in Hermiston, Ore. He added, "If one plant came open in two weeks, I'd have enough money to fund it. I've got people who will put up $100,000."

    Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state lawmaker who's the group's vice president, said ranchers used to be able to sell horses that were too old or unfit for work to slaughterhouses but now they have to ship them to butchers in Canada and Mexico, where they fetch less than half the price.

    The federal ban devastated "an entire sector of animal agriculture for purely sentimental and romantic notions," she said.

    Although there are reports of Americans dining on horse meat as recently as the 1940s, the practice is virtually non-existent in this country, where the animals are treated as beloved pets and iconic symbols of the West.

    Lawmakers in California and Illinois have banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and more than a dozen states tightly regulate the sale of horse meat.

    Federal lawmakers' lifting of the ban on funding for horse meat inspections came about in part because of the recession, which struck just as slaughtering stopped. A federal report issued in June found that local animal welfare organizations reported a spike in investigations for horse neglect and abandonment since 2007. In Colorado, for example, data showed that investigations for horse neglect and abuse increased more than 60 percent — from 975 in 2005 to almost 1,600 in 2009.

    The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office also determined that about 138,000 horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010, nearly the same number that were killed in the U.S. before the ban took effect in 2007. The U.S. has an estimated 9 million horses.

    Cheri White Owl, founder of the nonprofit Horse Feathers Equine Rescue in Guthrie, Okla., said she's seen more horse neglect during the recession. Her group is caring for 33 horses now and can't accept more.

    "A lot of the situation is due to the economy," she said, "People deciding to pay their mortgage or keep their horse."

    But White Owl worries that if slaughterhouses open, owners will dump their unwanted animals there instead of looking for alternatives, such as animal sanctuaries.

    Animal rights groups also argue that slaughtering is a messy, cruel process, and some say it would be kinder for owners to have their horses put to sleep by a veterinarian.

    "Euthanasia has always been an option," Pacelle said. But "if you acquire a horse, you should be a responsible owner and provide lifetime care."

    The fight over horse slaughtering has pitted lawmakers of the same party against each other.

    Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the poor economy has resulted in "sad cases" of horse abandonment and neglect and lifting the ban will give Americans a shot at regaining lost jobs and making sure sick horses aren't abandoned or mistreated.

    But U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., is lobbying colleagues to permanently ban horse slaughter because he believes the process is inhumane.

    "I am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent the resumption of horse slaughter and will force Congress to debate this important policy in an open, democratic manner at every opportunity," he said in a statement.

    Bottom Line - Horse meat may be back on the menu
    can't post pics because my computer's broken and i'm stupid

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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    Jeez...ewww. I'm sure meat is meat but this is fucking creepy to me. I can't imagine being the owner of one of these beautiful animals and dumping them off to the slaughterhouse.

    Gross and sad.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Most of the people I know here in Texas would rather throw themselves under a moving bus than even THINK about eating horse meat. This is horrid.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    What's the difference between eating this or cow? Good looks? Oh I'll eat this hooved mammal but not that one.

    I don't think the plan is that there's going to be an uptick in US consumption of horses, but it will be sold in the places they've always eaten it.

    In related news SJP has gone into hiding..............
    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    What's the difference between eating this or cow? Good looks? Oh I'll eat this hooved mammal but not that one.

    I don't think the plan is that there's going to be an uptick in US consumption of horses, but it will be sold in the places they've always eaten it.

    In related news SJP has gone into hiding..............


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    A*O
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    I can see no moral distinction between a juicy cow steak (yum) and a juicy horse steak (also yum).
    How can you trust anything that bleeds for 3 days every month but doesn't die?

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    No way, I've had horse meat by accident and it was disgusting. I thought it was beef but my stomach and taste buds told me otherwise when it came back up.

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    Gold Member piperdiva's Avatar
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    In the U.S., it's like butchering and eating a dog. They are beloved pets; It's.Just.Not.Done.
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    Penske material sprynkles's Avatar
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    Horses are awesome. They have personalities. They are pretty intelligent. They communicate to their people in cool ways. I've seen it. I LOVE horses, and this sucks. Cows are dumbshits who serve little purpose other than giving us delicious dairy products, (especially cheese, oh my gawd cheese) and meat.
    Phew, horseyfesto done.
    I LOVE them.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    This was in the NY Times last month, leading up to the vote on the bill:

    Slaughter of Horses Goes On, Just Not in U.S.


    LINCOLN, Neb. — The closing of the country’s last meat processing plant that slaughtered horses for human consumption was hailed as a victory for equine welfare. But five years later just as many American horses are destined for dinner plates to satisfy the still robust appetites for their meat in Europe and Asia.

    Now they are carved into tartare de cheval or basashi sashimi in Mexico and Canada.

    That shift is one of the many unintended consequences of a de facto federal ban on horse slaughter, according to a recent federal government study. As the domestic market for unwanted horses shrinks, more are being neglected and abandoned, and roughly the same number — nearly 140,000 a year — are being killed after a sometimes grueling journey across the border.

    “When they closed the plants, that put more of a hardship on our horses than the people who wanted to stop the slaughter can imagine,” said John Schoneberg, a Nebraska horse breeder who recently took in three horses from a nearby farmer who said that he was unable to pay for feed and would otherwise turn them loose.

    The study’s findings have been fiercely contested by animal welfare groups, which argue that most of the problems stem from the economic downturn and the high price of feed. The study also breathed new life into the long-smoldering battle over whether to allow the resumption of domestic horse slaughter or, alternatively, to prohibit the animals from being shipped abroad for their meat.

    In recent weeks lawmakers have pushed Congress to take action in both directions. The Government Accountability Office, which conducted the study, concluded that either option would be better than the status quo, but advocates on both sides, while hopeful, said a resolution did not appear imminent.

    “It’s just a hot political issue,” said Dr. Whitney Miller, a lobbyist for the American Veterinary Medical Association, which supports allowing horse slaughter. “It’s hard to see something definitive happening.”

    The effect of the standoff has been deeply felt in rural states like Nebraska. Horse breeders and the owners of livestock auctions say that eliminating slaughter basically removed the floor for horse prices, allowing the market to collapse and forcing many out of the business. One reason, they say, is that owners are now forced to pay hundreds of dollars to euthanize and dispose of unwanted horses when they used to receive about that much to sell them to slaughterhouses.

    This year, Nebraska became one of a number of states — along with Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and others — that have pushed to resuscitate the dormant horse slaughter industry, which produced meat valued at an estimated $65 million a year before closing. Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican, signed a law to take steps to regulate horsemeat at the state level that passed the single-chamber legislature, the Unicameral, with only one dissenting vote.

    These efforts have been fiercely opposed by animal rights groups, which rejected as ridiculous the argument that horses would be better off if they could be killed for meat. Pointing to their own research, they say any increase in improper care for horses can be connected to the economy, rather than to the elimination of slaughter. And if prices have declined, they say, that is because the ban removed an incentive to overbreed horses.

    Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said that horse owners should commit to providing lifetime care for the animals. He said surveys had found widespread opposition to killing horses for their meat.

    “Horses are different than cows and pigs in one very important sense, in that they are not raised for slaughter,” he said.

    But there is an enduring chasm in how horses are viewed.

    “A horse, to me, is a livestock animal like a cow, sheep or a goat,” said Orbie Bonnett, a Nebraska rancher who stopped selling horses after prices plummeted. “A lot of folks nowadays look at a horse like a pet, like a dog or a cat. When you have a lot of money folk looking at this that way, well, there goes your slaughterhouses, there goes your market and there goes your horse folk — they just can’t make it anymore.”

    The United States, much of it settled on horseback, has never really taken to eating horse except in times of need. But elsewhere, the meat — lean and protein-rich — is prized as a delicacy. Selling to a slaughterhouse has long been a way to make some money, to get rid of an old or unwanted horse no longer able to perform at a racetrack, show ring or ranch.

    The last slaughterhouses for horses, in Texas and Illinois, closed after Congress stripped financing for federal inspections of horse slaughter in 2006, a move that effectively banned the sale of the meat. That year, only 105,000 horses were slaughtered domestically; 33,000 from the United States were slaughtered abroad. Last year, 138,000 or more were slaughtered abroad, according to government figures. (The population of horses in the United States is about nine million.)

    “It’s slightly hypocritical to allow these horses to be slaughtered anyway up in Canada or Mexico and not allow people here to get the income or serve the meat,” said Hugue Dufour, a chef in New York who cooked horse while working in Canada.

    Now owners have to pay to get rid of horses. Debby Brehm, director of the Nebraska Quarter Horse Association, spent $200 last month to euthanize a sick horse and $150 more for it to be hauled to a rendering plant. Other owners keep them but are unable to bear the thousands of dollars a year it can cost to feed and care for them. As a result, the sight of malnourished animals is familiar, Ms. Brehm said, and stories abound of horses abandoned on public and private land and even, in one audacious case, in someone else’s horse trailer.

    “You see a lot of malnourished and abandoned horses that probably would have been humanely slaughtered before,” said Windy Allen, a horse trainer in the state.

    Others say the ban is costing them money, too.

    The Southeast Nebraska Livestock Auction used to sell about 100 horses every month, but now that may be the total for a year, said Dale Steinhoff, the owner. At Central Nebraska Packing, which used to slaughter horses but now buys more than one million pounds of horsemeat a year for sale to zoos, the meat is far more expensive when imported from Canada, said Lloyd Woodward, general manager.

    And, even as they pay less, those who buy the animals for slaughter — a group known as “kill buyers” — say they are struggling to cover their costs.

    “The Mexicans are getting rich off us,” said Derry Mayfield, who buys about 40 horses a month and sometimes has them given to him for no cost. “They’re buying these horses cheap because they can. We have no other options.”


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    Silver Member Dubah's Avatar
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    It's a matter of culture. Cows, pigs, sheep and goats are also curious animals and could make wonderful pets. In some places like Iceland for example they still sluaghter horses for meat. I see no moral diffrence in the slaughter of one animal species to the other. The thing is if eating horse meat is not a part of the culture it wouldn't work.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Consumption doesn't have to be part of American culture in this case. The horse meat is primarily for export.
    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A*O View Post
    I can see no moral distinction between a juicy cow steak (yum) and a juicy horse steak (also yum).
    this.
    horse meat is delicious. i don't see what the big deal is. but it's one of those things that's taboo in most anglo cultures but accepted by the french and other cultures.
    i lived in ottawa and it's right next to quebec. ottawa's pretty anglo and most people wouldn't eat horse or even rabbit, but cross the bridge into quebec and you'll easily find both.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Melyanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A*O View Post
    I can see no moral distinction between a juicy cow steak (yum) and a juicy horse steak (also yum).
    I agree - well, as a vegetarian I kind of disagree with the "yum" part, but I don't see any moral distinction between cows, horses, and other animals, either.

    Pigs, for example, are even more intelligent than horses, but eating pigs is not seen as something bad.

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    Elite Member yanna's Avatar
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    Now I get it... a bunch of Americans I was hanging out with in France were horrified to find out what cheval was and that they'd just had it for lunch at the school cafeteria...

    I don't go looking to eat horse but I ate it in France and I'm pretty sure I've had it in hungarian salami and it was delish. I don't see why this is such a big deal. Is it better to turn horses into dogfood or glue?
    Under the most beautiful peacock's tail always hides the usual chicken butt.

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