Horse Slaughter – Pros, Cons and the Emotions
On June 28, 2013 FSIS published the updated guidelines for equine slaughter in the US. Less than 1 week later the first grant of inspection was announced to Valley Meats Company located in Roswell, NM with two more expected shortly. Animal Welfare groups immediately filed petitions to halt the anticipated slaughter stating that FSIS was violating current law by allowing equine slaughter to occur.
Horse slaughter has long been a controversial subject in the US. Horse meat is not approved for sale or consumption in the US so many question why the US would even need such a service. As we saw a few years ago when the slaughter was banned there is a need. In 2006 the US Congress defunded domestic horse slaughter effectively shutting down the small industry. This ban was lifted in 2011 and, as such, requests for inspection grants we submitted with the NM grant being the first to make it through the many hurdles.
While there is not a large market for the meat, considered a delicacy in some countries, there is a steady demand for export. Horses are considered pets by most in the US with the exception of the Plain working horses and the race industry. After the closure of plants in 2006 the country saw a significant increase in animals being abandoned and poorly cared for.
While I do not believe that horse slaughter would even become a major force in the US I would caution those in the con camp to look honestly at the need. A regulated, well run industry is far preferred over the 2006 – present environment where lack of humane options caused abandonment and abuse that we all find unacceptable.