Horse: The Other Red Meat
Horse could potentially be on the menu for humans in this country as a five-year ban on inspecting the meat was lifted with a new spending bill signed on Nov. 18 by President Obama.
While the ban has been lifted, the legislation did not allocate money to pay for horse meat inspections. The Department of Agriculture would have to allocate funds from its existing budget to make the plan work.
Proponents of horse meat for human consumption are not looking for it to become a staple of the American diet. Horse meat, however, is considered a delicacy in some Asian and European countries where it sells for around $20 a pound. Domestic use is primarily for animal feed purposes.
Critics of the ban said it has cost America jobs and resulted in older horses being neglected. A study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at the request of Sen. Max Baucus (D – MT) found that while horses were not being slaughtered here, they were being shipped to neighboring countries to be butchered.
A Detroit Free Press report cited the GAO’s findings: "From 2006 through 2010, U.S. horse exports for slaughter increased by 148 and 660 percent to Canada and Mexico, respectively. As a result, nearly the same number of U.S. horses was transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010 — nearly 138,000 — as was slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased."
Dave Duquette, president of United Horsemen, a non-profit group that supports horse slaughter, told The Associated Press that investors are ready to go.
"I have personally probably five to 10 investors that I could call right now if I had a plant ready to go," Mr. Duquette said. "If one plant came open in two weeks, I’d have enough money to fund it. I’ve got people who will put up $100,000."
Rep. Jack Kingston (R – GA) said the ban has cost America jobs. A spokesperson for the Congressman told the Free Press, "It’s a $65 million industry in America — it was before it was banned."
Some who oppose horse slaughter believe that lifting the ban may be what’s needed to finally end the practice.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) said in a statement,"I am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent the resumption of horse slaughter and will force Congress to debate this important policy in an open, democratic manner at every opportunity."
Earlier this year, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011. If enacted, it and similar legislation in the House would ban the export of live horses to be slaughtered for human consumption.
- Horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in U.S. – The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune
- Horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in U.S. – Detroit Free Press
Discussion Questions: Should the American food industry support the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S.? Do you see horse meat ever legally making its way onto the food plates of American consumers?