Wallis Petition a Wake Up Call to 80 Percent Opposed to Horse Slaughter

Greetings!,

As the United States representative on the initial board of directors for the newly formed International Equine Business Association, and the chairman, I have just sent the following letter, background information, and petition to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Please take the time to write a letter of your own.  Feel free to use our letter as a model, but please include your own personal perspective. We have found that emails tend to be ignored, but have received response to our written communications. We greatly appreciate your support and effort, and would ask for two things as soon as possible:

  1. Please email me at sue.wallis52@gmail.com so that we can add you to our list of proactive supporters, and please include any equine organizations that you are affiliated with. We would appreciate a copy of your letter to USDA.
  2. Contact your congressional delegations and brief them on the dire situation facing the horse business, and ask them to add their support to a bi-partisan effort to send a strong message to USDA and Secretary Vilsack from Capitol Hill. While you are at it, please ask them to oppose any and all efforts attempting to ban horse transportation and humane slaughter such as the Moran Amendment which has been attached through a voice vote in committee to the House version of the 2013 Ag Appropriations bill. Ask them to insist that this amendment be stripped off in the conference committee (when and if it ever gets there) just as it was last year. If you would like to use or adapt our talking points, please contact me.

It is very important that Congress understands the full ramification of these misguided measures that, if allowed to become law would doom thousands of horses to horrific fates, destroy what is left of the U.S. horse industry, eliminate the private property rights of horse owners, devastate rural economies, and cause major disruption in trade relations between the U.S. and our closest neighbors that would clearly violate international agreements. More than 74% of the horses processed in Canada in 2010 originated in the U.S., and probably a larger percentage of the horses processed in Mexico for export also originated in the U.S. The Moran Amendment as written defunds completely the APHIS Slaughter Horse Transport Program which ensures that horses are transported properly, and would prevent any horses from being exported for this purpose.

Friends, between drought, wildfires, no options, and an animal rights driven obstructive federal agency, we face a very grim winter…

Please feel free to email if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks so much for your support!

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July 31, 2012

The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack

Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

On behalf of the International Equine Business Association and the horse businesses of the United States I am writing to urge your agency to immediately provide the inspection necessary to humanely and safely process horses in facilities that are ready to do so in the United States. The horse industry is already severely damaged because of the lack of market and options, and now with wide spread drought and wild fire damage, the situation is truly dire.

Attached please find an urgent petition, and background information supporting this letter.

USDA stands squarely in the way of enterprises that could offer some relief and a humane option for many of these horses. It has come to our attention that USDA is promulgating directives to states that indicate the agency has no intention of providing the inspection they are required by long-standing U.S. law to provide, and are actively discouraging state departments of agriculture from implementing any kind of state inspection. This singles out one class of livestock owner for economic harm and persecution that is extremely detrimental-leaving many with no option except to destroy valuable animals, or to sell them at pathetically low prices and allow them to be hauled to other countries out of U.S. jurisdiction. In the face of widespread natural disaster, some would say this is the height of hypocrisy and completely counter to the mission of the USDA to promote and responsibly regulate agriculture in this country.

Several horse processing facilities are ready to offer horse owners a fair price for the animals they desperately need to sell — or could be within days — to provide much-needed emergency relief. Markets for the product are ready to accept it domestically and internationally if the meat is USDA-inspected exactly as it was in 2007.

USDA should not stand in the way of much-needed, humane options for horses. Horses and horse people are uniquely suffering as a direct result of federal government inaction, and the Department’s refusal to provide the inspection services federal law requires USDA to provide.

Across the nation, states, tribes and private citizens are working hand-in-hand with the federal government to provide relief to every other breed of livestock, and every other kind of business, yet USDA stands directly in the path of the same relief for the horse industry.

This is a moral and ethical imperative that USDA must address without delay.

Sincerely,

Sue Wallis, Chair

United States

Bill des Barres

Canada

Olivier Kemseke

European Union, Mexico, Argentina

——————————————————————————–

BACKGROUND INFORMATION TO SUPPORT URGENT PETITION TO USDA TO IMPLEMENT EMERGENCY HORSE PROCESSING INSPECTION

Across the nation, U.S. livestock and agricultural resources are being wiped out by widespread drought, compounded by enormous wildfires destroying summer forage and winter feed. Headlines for just a single day scream the following: “Wyoming Drought Strikes Hard at State’s Livestock Herd,[i]” “ Drought forces Ozarks farmers to sell livestock much earlier than usual [ii],” “Arkansas Drought Threatens Cattle Industry [iii],” and because of the weather, “USDA slashes corn, soybean production estimates[iv],” “Drought-Driven Wildfires Challenge Western Producers [v] and “Oregon Wildfires Burns, Kills Cattle [vi].” Forage and feed in short supply means prices are sky rocketing and will continue to rise. Everywhere livestock owners are downsizing herds while desperately searching for winter feed without much hope.

Thankfully there is still a good market for cattle and sheep, and owners are receiving fair prices which will allow them to restock and rebuild their herds when circumstances change. Horse owners don’t have that kind of predictable market so they stand to suffer in horrific numbers if USDA does not act immediately to implement the inspection of horse processing facilities.

One South Dakota rancher posted a common sentiment, one shared by nearly every livestock owner faced with these tough decisions. Robert Dennis writes:

“Well, we are in a drought. I have too many horses, as they stopped the slaughter of horses and I refuse to put any I like through what it would take to get them out of the country for a Mexican to stab them to kill them or ship them up into Canada on a crowded truck, let alone pay the fuel bill to get them somewhere where I might get $200 bucks a head, if I am lucky. So I will need to cull some of these older and not- good-enough-to-breed mares and fillies. I will take them out and give them a bite of grain and put them down humanely with my rifle. Then I’ll haul them to the horse graveyard on this place. What would any of you do? Or do any of you want some free horses? Just come and get them… no really, I doubt I’d give a horse to anyone unless I knew them and how they would treat them. My feelings are, there are a lot worse things in life than dying. All of my horses live a good life, right up to the end.

I guess it’s just come to the time for some of them to come to the end quicker than normal as I cannot afford to feed them this winter at these kinds of hay prices. Yeah, this is what happens when you take away horse slaughter plants in the U.S. Too bad, seems someone could have at least used the meat after they are dead….guess the coyotes and other scavengers will.”

A Montana rancher, Kirk Green, burned out by massive fires, estimates he and his neighbors are faced with well over 200 head of horses that will not be able to winter out as they generally do because all of the forage is completely burned out.

“How quick can you get the plants open? We are going to have to do something with these horses. We can’t let them starve, and it hurts me to let these out of the country buyers get them for nothing. It’s a damn waste and a damn shame to even consider shooting them where they stand, but I guess we’ll do what we have to do.”

In Wyoming, a breeder and horse trainer, Ingrid Buchmeier, writes looking for help in trying to find any humane solution:

“I don’t think advertising horse meat as pet food like selling beef would work until we do have slaughter houses capable of slaughtering horses. I think we would need to kill and harvest the meat ourselves and then sell it from our home. I am not sure if I am tough enough to do that, but I sure as heck don’t want to send them on that highway to hell that goes from WY to Mexico. I was just checking since at $250 a ton for hay, if you can even find it, may necessitate drastic measures. In my own herd I have several retired horses and we normally put up plenty of hay. Our hay is a 100% loss, nada, zip this year. Quite a few folks are in the same boat as us in this area. The cattle can be sold, the sheep can be sold, the goats can be sold, but horses are a different story. These old retired horses (I have about six of them) will just go to feed coyotes or worms and it’s a shame to feed our dogs corn and meat byproducts. I think it COULD be financially viable to sell horse meat for pet food right here in the good ol’ USA. Do you know if you can ship horse meat across state lines for pet food?”

These are only three of many stories, all of which are just as dire.

USDA stands squarely in the way of enterprises that could offer some relief and a humane option for many of these horses. It has come to our attention that USDA is promulgating directives to states that indicate the agency has no intention of providing the inspection they are required by long-standing U.S. law to provide, and are actively discouraging state departments of agriculture from implementing any kind of state inspection. This is outrageous, and singles out one class of livestock owner for economic harm and persecution that is extremely detrimental. In the face of widespread natural disaster, some would say this is the height of hypocrisy and completely counter to the mission of the USDA to promote and responsibly regulate agriculture in this country.


[i]  http://farmprogress.com/western-farmer-stockman-story-nl16_18nl-wyoming-drought-strikes-hard-states-livestock-herd-9-61344?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12+July+2012

[ii] http://www.ky3.com/news/ky3-a-lack-of-rain-scorching-temperatures-and-a-shortage-of-hay-are-making-this-year-one-of-the-toughest-for-farmers-in-the-ozarks-20120709,0,910759.story

[iii] http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/48127198#48127198

[iv] http://brownfieldagnews.com/2012/07/11/usda-slashes-corn-soybean-production-estimates/

[v]http://farmprogress.com/western-farmer-stockman-story-nl16_18nl-drought-driven-wildfires-challenge-western-producers-9-61266?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12+July+2012

[vi] http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/latest/Oregon-wildfire-burns-kills-cattle-162260515.html

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URGENT PETITION

We, the members and supporters of the International Equine Business Association representing literally thousands of horses and every aspect of the livestock business urgently petition you to implement equine inspection certification immediately.

Several horse processing facilities are ready to offer horse owners a fair price for the animals they desperately need to sell — or could be within days — to provide much-needed emergency relief. Markets for the product are ready to accept it domestically and internationally if the meat is USDA-inspected exactly as it was in 2007.

The International Equine Business Association (IEBA) has been formed as a production agriculture organization representing the equine industry, and it stands ready with well-developed quality assurance programs and food safety protocols designed to exceed USDA requirements.

We understand traceability is a priority, and that another priority is the prevention of drug residues in meat. IEBA proposes allowing the association’s equine ID and tracing system – a system tested and proven in Canada – as an interim emergency measure. This system can be altered or amended later to fulfill any USDA requirements that may not be currently met, and can be updated when the Department finalizes its equine systems. IEBA also proposes its drug residue testing protocol – which uses third party laboratory testing to scientifically validate zero residues — to establish the eligibility of every horse for processing prior to slaughter. Allowing the implementation of these systems now will provide the desperately needed humane and economically viable outlet for the drought and fire-impacted horse industry.

USDA should not stand in the way of much-needed, humane options for horses. Horses and horse people are uniquely suffering as a direct result of federal government inaction, and the Department’s refusal to provide the inspection services federal law requires USDA to provide.

Across the nation, states, tribes and private citizens are working hand-in-hand with the federal government to provide relief to every other breed of livestock, and every other kind of business, yet USDA stands directly in the path of the same relief for the horse industry.

Therefore, as a moral and ethical imperative, we urgently petition the United States Department of Inspection to issue provisional or permanent grants of inspection to allow equine processing to begin immediately.

20 comments for “Wallis Petition a Wake Up Call to 80 Percent Opposed to Horse Slaughter

  1. Ldg
    July 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    1) If petitions and letters are the key, we would have stopped the slaughter and export to slaughter long ago.

    2) SW, as usual, doesn’t want to help owners keep their horses, she simply wants to kill their horses. I don’t see anything there about trying to find hay for the owners in need or helping them find a way to feed their animals. No, she just wants to slaughter their horses and that is the only solution she will ever offer them.

    3) What about the bute?

  2. Susan
    July 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    What about the Bute?

    It’s not like the purchasing countries aren’t doing their own testing.

    • admin
      July 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      Phenalbutazone is bute

    • July 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      They do NOT check every single piece of meat. The inspections are random and are not nearly adequate to keep harmful substances like but OUT of the human food chain.

      As you can see right here: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/rasff-window/portal/index.cfm?event=notificationDetail&NOTIF_REFERENCE=2012.1078

      • admin
        July 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm

        Yes, and I would remind our readers there are other markets that aren’t so picky as the Euros.

        The Editor

        • Ldg
          July 31, 2012 at 10:01 pm

          Admin,

          but if the EU companies have a lock on the horse meat production, I wonder how any stand-alone US plant could compete financially? And I also wonder if Bouvry, et. al., would sell horse meat to the EU using one set of standards and horse meat to a non-EU country using another?

          • Joe
            August 1, 2012 at 5:48 am

            Why would it be any different for horse meat than any other red meat product shipped to the various countries. If you look at the different country forbiden residue list they all vary, same goes for the US on imports.

            You keep saying that there is contamination in all American horses. How can that be when Canada slaugher horses are 70% coming from America. With their current residue testing program they test is looking for parts per billion, the same goes for our kist test that is used in red meat.

          • admin
            August 1, 2012 at 6:17 am

            Sorry Joe, we’ve been down this road with you so many times it’s tiresome. Bute is found in almost all american horses, period. It is found in the kidneys. Currently the residue test is not done on the kidneys, at least until the EU began properly testing.

          • Ldg
            August 1, 2012 at 6:50 am

            It seems that even with the random and inefficient testing done, they are still finding it.

            https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/rasff-window/portal/index.cfm?event=notificationDetail&NOTIF_REFERENCE=2012.1078

            Also, Dr. Marini has said that even though the test used for bute is good, it has its limits. Very small particles of bute will not show up, so even though the test might not show that there is a violation, residue might still exist.

          • August 1, 2012 at 7:08 am

            Looks like we had the same thought!

          • Joe
            August 1, 2012 at 11:57 am

            I think we will all agree that we need to have safe food to eat. FSIS only inspects less than 5% of all meat imported into America, yet all meat gets the USDA inspected seal telling us it is safe. All other food items imported FSIS inspects less than 3% and all products gets the USDA inspected. Now seafood there is only 1 % that is inspected and of the 1 % that is inspected 51% is rejected. We are buying food that may not be safe to eat and yet the ones raising concern about horsemeat maybe do not know what we are eating right here in America that is shipped in. Our beef that all of us enjoy to eat at this time 25 % is imported from Mexico, how about food safety and hygene in these countries?

        • August 1, 2012 at 1:41 am

          Yes, but many of those countries are beginning to adpot EU regulations.

          • August 1, 2012 at 7:14 am

            Including China. Also, Russia doesn’t import all of our products now – is it poultry? I think.

            When the EU effectively bans our horses, it would seem that others would take notice.

            I don’t think you can make it in the international horse meat market without dealing with the Belgian/Dutch companies that seem to own it. I remember Butcher in Montana saying something like that himself – you have to deal with the Belgians.

          • Ldg
            August 1, 2012 at 11:12 am

            Joe, you seem to be avoiding all the issue here. Does Sue have a better answer than slaughter for horse owners that can’t afford feed yet want to keep their horses (in case next year is a better year?) After all, you can bring most horses back from starvation, but you can’t bring ‘em back once they’re slaughtered.

            And what about the new EU regulations that come into effect next year? Do you just expect the kill buyers and slaughterhouses to give them the same wink and a nod that they do to the current list of medications for each horse?

            And do you have anything to say about SW’s effort to provide the microchipping necessary which could benefit her financially?

  3. August 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Testing does not equate to food safety. The idea is to prove the animal has been raised and regulated as food animal before sending the animal to slaughter. That’s what the passports are for. Testing is only done radomly as a safegard that food safety laws are being followed. It is evident, that when it comes to horses, they are not.

    The EU should be commended for finally holding their feet to the fire. They realize the interim pass given to the US via the quarantine and EIDs was ignored.

    • Joe
      August 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

      I do not understand why you would say ( Testing does not equate to food safety)

      FDA remains hamstrung the safety of imported food products- it only has the capacity to inspect about 2 % of the imported human food.

      What an ironic example of how screwed up our FOOD SAFETY really is.

      China should not be allowed to export any food for human consumption or pets to the US till they get their act together.

      The full article is posted below. Our food we eat in America should all be inspected, it is very important. Think about the seafood being imported. ONLY 1 % is being inspected and of that 1 %, 51% is condemended. How bad is the other 99 % that did not get inspected??

      Now tell me that TESTING DOES NOT EQUATE TO FOOD SAFETY !!

      Full article

      http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/08/china-sneaks-its-chicken-in-on-mans-best-friend/

      • admin
        August 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

        Joe, there is a high degree of trust the USDA provides to cattle, swine, and poultry producers. The duplicitous nature of the horse meat market has apparently far from earned that trust.

        • Joe
          August 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

          Editor

          Where do you come up with this trust, Just look at all of the O157H7 e-coli sicknesses because of bad inspections. Where is your proof that when the plants in America were open that there was rejected meat? Another thing you need to show is that people are getting sick and dying from eating horsemeat. The EID for cattle has the same problem as the horses, there are dishonest dealers in both.If your statement about ( the duplicitous nature of the horsemeat market has far from earned the trust)

          You fail to keep in mind all of the things like the PINK SLIME, how much trust did that have from the consumers? They had to close 3 plants and the school lunch removed their product from their menus. You seem to have a one track mind. Maybe you need to research all livestock products and see that they too have their problems. I though a good writer kept an open mind and was neutral. You again show you are anti horse slaughter and anti transportation of horses to slaughter. You and HSUS have the same goal ( STOP HORSE SLAUGHTER AND TRANSPORTATION)

          Why don’t you and HSUS start sending hay to all the people who can not either find hay or pay for it. Both you and HSUS along with a few others need to PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS.

          • admin
            August 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm

            I’m a bit of an expert on hay and drought, Joe. I live in Texas. Enough said. Yes, we are absolutely opposed to the captive bolt gun used in horse slaughter. As a result, until that changes we will be right on the side of HSUS because it involves unspeakable cruelty to horses.

            Regarding trusting killer buyers and foreign plants that don’t pay any U.S. taxas. Well, ’nuff said.

            The Editor

Comments are closed.