Wyoming state legislator Sue Wallis has been talking about opening up a horse slaughter plant on U.S. soil for years–and she began her crusade not long after the last plants were shuttered in 2007. Wallis has been aggressively venue-shopping in recent months. She found her opening when a group of federal lawmakers allied with the agribusiness lobby succeeded in blocking HSUS-backed language in the annual agriculture spending bill to bar USDA inspections of horse meat. The omission of that anti-slaughter language, Wallis thought, paved the way for a new plant to kill horses for human consumption.
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
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Wallis has claimed she has plans on the drawing board for slaughter plants in Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington, and says she’s on the cusp of starting one up in a couple of states. But yesterday, Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., said it was suspending its effort to seek approval from USDA for a plant in the state, where there was fierce opposition from Gov. Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King. The HSUS, along with Front Range Equine Rescue, discovered mountains of dead animals illegally left on Valley Meat’s property and filed a request for an enforcement action, which resulted in an $86,400 environmental fine issued by the state on Aug. 2. One town in Missouri, Mountain Grove, ran out Wallis and her allies on a rail. And things seem to be stalling in Rockville, Mo., which was her backup location in the Show-Me State. It’s been quiet in a number of other states that once seemed, according to Wallis at least, that they were sure-bets for horse slaughtering operations.
These are good outcomes, because this is a predatory, disreputable, inhumane industry. Nobody raises horses for food in the U.S., and no consumers want the product. We Americans shouldn’t be catering to foreign gourmands by killing perfectly healthy horses, especially in light of the historic place these animals have occupied in our country. America was settled on the back of a horse―these animals have been helping us and serving us ever since, and what a betrayal it is to exploit them in this way.
But just stopping horse slaughter plants from ramping up does not stop the slaughter of American horses. They are now being exported live to Canada and Mexico, and more than 100,000 horses a year are suffering in this trade and meeting an ignominious demise.
Ultimately, the answer is for the European Union to shut down the import of American horse meat, given that it’s adulterated with all sorts of substances not fit for human consumption. The HSUS, along with Front Range Equine Rescue, have also filed petitions with USDA and FDA to have U.S. horse meat declared “Condemned” and unqualified for human consumption for just that reason. And the U.S. Congress should pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to stop the export of live horses for slaughter.
Sue Wallis and other proponents of horse slaughter must face the fact that Americans don’t reduce all decisions to sheer profit-making alone. Our values about horses and their welfare matter to the people of the United States.