Congress, administration rethink horse slaughter ban

By Mike Barnett

When it comes to the domestic horse slaughter ban, I hate to say I told you so. So I won’t.

But President Obama recently signed a law that reverses the five-year ban on horse slaughter, a welcomed first step in addressing the unintended consequences of a misguided law.

Even Ingrid Newkirk, founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), says the U.S. should never have banned domestic horse slaughter—a stance that put the organization at odds with other animal rights activist groups.

“It’s quite an unpopular position we’ve taken,” Newkirk told the Christian Science Monitor. “There was a rush to pass a bill that said you can’t slaughter them anymore in the United States. But the reason we didn’t support it, which sets us all alone, is the amount of suffering that it created exceeded the amount of suffering it was designed to stop.”

I think this is the first time I’ve ever agreed with PETA on anything. But Ms. Newkirk is right about this.

The domestic ban didn’t end horse slaughter. It simply shifted it beyond the reach of U.S. inspectors into Mexico and Canada. In fact, a report issued during the summer by the Government Accountability Office said the ban depressed U.S. horse prices and led to neglect or abuse as owners had no way of disposing of unwanted animals—except selling them for slaughter to our southern and northern neighbors, or quit caring for them all together.

The ban was imposed in 2006 when Congress refused to fund inspection of plants which slaughtered horses for human consumption overseas. Without those inspections, the meat could not be sold. The plants shut down. The agriculture spending bill signed recently by President Obama effectively reverses that position, and the administration said it is ready to conduct inspections should a slaughter plant open.

Reversal of the ban is an important first step. A bigger challenge is the highly vocal animal rights activists who are sure to oppose the opening of any new horse slaughter facility.

But maybe there’s hope for these folks, too. The Obama administration saw the light. PETA says the ban is a mistake. Most in the horse industry will tell you that a quiet, dignified death of an unwanted horse in a humane manner is much preferable to a horse starving to death or being killed in an unregulated foreign slaughter house where anything goes.

Reinstating a humane, accountable and legal management tool is good for horses and horse owners, said Rep. Adrian Smith, a Nebraska Republican who fought for the change. It’s also good policy.


Cindy Wennin

Cindy Wennin is the Senior Graphic Designer for Texas Farm Bureau. Her responsibilities include web development and support.

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2 Responses to “Congress, administration rethink horse slaughter ban”

  1. PETA has taken a position with which reasonable people can agree?
    That’s it. The blue moon. Hell has finally frozen over. What’s next? Dogs and cats sleeping together (with apologies to Bill Murray)?
    Don’t get too excited yet, though. Plenty of other misinformed crazies are out there to oppose this latest rational development. And they’re perfectly willing to prolong horse suffering to achieve their misguided ends.
    Is this a wonderful country or what?

  2. Mike Barnett says:

    Audie, Yes!

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