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The Horse Slaughter Controversy

Photo courtesy of Funky64/Flickr

Today on Talk Back, we will speak with Theresa Manzella, who works at a non-profit that helps struggling horses, about horse slaughtering plants. Here’s a little bit of background on the issue. In 2006, a bill  passed that prevented the USDA from using federal funds to inspect horse meat facilities.  That bill found support on both sides of the aisle, and even received praise and backing from oil magnate T. Boone Pickens. According to a Time U.S. article titled “T. Boone Pickens to the Rescue” Pickens fought for the bill saying “I can’t imagine slaughtering a horse [to eat] . . .It’s absolutely un-American.”

With no federal funds for inspections, the horse meat industry in the U.S. effectively shut down and those who wanted to send horses to slaughter had to send them to Canada or Mexico. Last November, a provision in an omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama effectively re-allowed horse meat processing plants, although it did not provide any funds to the USDA for inspection. Now, horse meat processing plants are being considered in multiple states and, in response, a new house bill and senate bill have been authored to prevent the expansion of horse meat facilities. In short, the controversy is hotter than ever  Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the arguments from both sides.

Should Horses be Slaughtered for Human Consumption in the United States?


A. The horse meat industry provides a secondary market for horses, lifting the overall value of the horse and helping to prevent the suffering of horses that are neglected during economic turmoil.

B. The Government has no right to say that humans shouldn’t eat or process horses, let the people decide.

C. Horse meat facilities can provide an economic boost to the U.S. Why export this industry when we can use the jobs here?

A. Horses should not have to suffer the abuse that goes into the horse slaughtering process. From transport, to the waiting stalls, to the final butchering, horse slaughter is cruel, unethical, and unnecessary.

B. Because the USDA has not received any funds to inspect horse meat facilities, the cost to do so will come directly out of the taxpayers pocket. Most of this meat will go to overseas delicatessens anyway, why should American’s pay for it?

C. Horse meat facilities will not solve the problem of over-breeding horses. The cause of horse suffering in the economic downturn is that there are too many horses. A few horse meat facilities will not be able to cause a significant reduction to this problem.

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