Slaughter approval “ignores environmental worries”

Horses held in export pens before transported for slaughter.
Horses held in export pens before transported for slaughter. © Kathy Milani/The HSUS

The US Department of Agriculture is embarking on a nationwide program of horse slaughter without regard to environmental or human health concerns, horse advocates claim in a lawsuit.

Front Range Equine Rescue, the Humane Society of the United States and others have filed an action against Secretary for Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary for Food Elizabeth Hagen and the administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service Alfred Almanza.

The action, in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, centers on the decision by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow federal inspections of horse slaughter plants, which brings the reopening of such plants on US soil a step closer.

The USDA has granted approval for two plants so far, saying it is bound by law to do so if all conditions are met.

The action by the plaintiffs seeks an injunction against the USDA in granting the plant approvals.

The complaint states: “Defendants are embarking on a nationwide program of horse slaughter that presents clear threats to the environment without complying with Congressionally mandated requirements intended to protect the public and our natural resources.

“The slaughter of American horses for human consumption presents unique and extensive dangers that have never been adequately considered by [the] defendants, despite their obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Plaintiffs are filing this action because defendants are proceeding with the inspection of horses under the Federal Meat Inspection Act without compliance with their federally mandated environmental review obligations.”

The complaint continues: “Americans do not intend their horses to end up as meat, as American captive and wild horses are not treated by their original owners as food animals.

“Because they are not raised in regulated industries conscious of public health and safety concerns, but rather in private homes, on racetracks, and as working animals, serious environmental issues arise if they are slaughtered for human food.

“Almost all American horses are given a wide variety of drugs and other substances that render their blood and tissue contaminated and dangerous to consume.

“The discard of the byproducts of horse slaughter thus poses a serious public health risk when such adulterated tissue and blood, and the wastewater from slaughter, seep into the ground and water supply.”

The plaintiffs noted that about 80 percent of Americans surveyed opposed horse slaughter for human consumption.

Horse slaughter, they argued, was particularly detrimental to the human environment.

“The last three American slaughterhouses … were shut down in 2007. Every one of these operations wreaked environmental havoc by dumping blood, entrails, urine, feces, heads and hooves into local water systems, overwhelming local wastewater infrastructure and causing numerous environmental violations.”

The plaintiffs warned that, since the USDA was approving a horse slaughter facility for the first time since the 2007 shutdown of the industry, the manner in which it granted any such approval would likely establish a precedent for how it handled further slaughter inspection applications.

“Horse slaughter’s impacts on local, national and even international human environments is highly controversial,” the plaintiffs said, noting, among other matters, the recent horse-meat contamination scandal that affected Europe.

“Approval of horse slaughter inspections threatens a violation of federal, state and local environemtnal laws, because past horse slaughter facilities repeatedly and brazenly violated local laws pertaining to waste management and air and water quality, costing host communities large sums of money to seek compliance and remedy environmental harms, and because of the special dangers inherent in horse meat.”

The plaintiffs argue that granting federal inspections without a NEPA review is wrong and asked the court to set the approvals aside.

The plaintiffs in the case are Front Range Equine Rescue, the Humane Society of the United States, Marin Humane Society, the Horses for Life Foundation, Return to Freedom, Ramona Cordova, Krystle Smith, Cassie Gross, Deborah Trahan, and Barbara Sink.

The attorney for the plaintiffs is Bruce Wagman.


10 thoughts on “Slaughter approval “ignores environmental worries”

  • July 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    As a retired OB nurse, I have been striving to educate the public about the effects of Bute (Phenylbutazoneon) on the fetus or newborn. At least 90% of horses raised in USA have been given Bute. There is evidence to indicate that exposure to Bute during pregnancy may cause birth defects in the fetus. Studies in animals have shown that these medicines, if taken late in pregnancy, may increase the length of pregnancy, prolong labor, or cause other problems during delivery, including still-births. Transference during breast feeding may cause heart disease in the newborn. It may be the innocent human newborns that will suffer. Lordy! Don’t we have enough childhood diseases! and risks for birth-defects, autism, etc. Do we even want to send this tainted flesh to other countries?

  • July 12, 2013 at 1:51 am

    I simple do not understand how the FDA approved the New Mexico horse slaughter house facility. For one Americans are against horse slaughter. Time and again we have to fight this point. Horses are smart, beautiful creatures and understand what is going on. Horses are given drugs that are unsafe for humans and animals to consume. Look at Europe and the problems that they are having with tainted horse meat entering into their food supply. Look at the past history of horse slaughter in the United States and the violations, local tax payer burden, etc. The list goes on and on, so why did the FDA pass this horse slaughter plant in New Mexico many people ask. Could it be corruption in our great United States government system. Secret close door private meetings and payoffs. Something just doesn’t smell right with this. I worry about the wild horses that the BLM have in their custody right now. “Where are those beautiful horses going to? the New Mexican slaughter house.” They have some plan and don’t think they won’t kill all of those wild horses and try not to let anyone know about it. I am very worried at this time for those wild horses. The wild horses need to be set free back into the wild.

  • July 12, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Everything about horse slaughter is destructive dangerous and vile…..

    It will NOT fix the issue’s it endorses the very Pro Slaughter say’s it will help?? Over Breeding & abuse it gives irresponsible owners a dumping ground….

    We all are not stupid we KNOW this is not what America should do that’s why 80% of the American people are against it….

    And yet we are going to continue to ship tainted meat to other country’s honestly how sick is that. this BUTE on a human fetus is detrimental ask ANY doctor or nurse….

    This situation is the most unbelievable turn of events that USDA is allowing this to happen and CRAP to ( we have no choice ). And then in the next breath pushing Congress to act to stop it, REALLY?? Playing both sides are what they are doing in just such a dangerous irresponsible decision ….

    Not to even mention the environmental issue’s which we all know is HUGH, they have learned NOTHING from past experience how can that be????

    SO the EVIL will continue??? Just remember everyone when voting comes around again, remember WHO pushed for this cause I will for sure, get the crooked politician’s who fill their pockets with BIG AGRICULTURE backers money, they work for themselves certainly not 80% of us….. GET THEM OUT OF OFFICE..

    By the way on CHANGE.ORG there is a new petition if you all did not know and it is a young girl that is going to send this to the food industry IKEA Burger King and such anyway it has 53,000 something signatures asking them to denounce horse meat or buying any horse meat in this country go to the site PLEASE everyone sign it…. I’d put it on this site the link but I don’t think I should???

  • July 12, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Where it stated and the congressmen responsible:

    How Many Congressmen Does It Take To Screw A Horse?

    Only three. This is the number it took to remove language from an agriculture appropriations spending bill on November 18, reversing a five-year ban on horsemeat inspections. The culprits?

    Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI),

    Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO
    and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA).

    Their strategy? The old closed-door-session-on-Capitol-Hill trick.

    This was of course executed at the last moment, allowing Kohl, Blunt and Kingston to hold up the appropriations bill until a government shutdown loomed. The tactic worked as planned, forcing President Obama to sign, despite a 2008 campaign promise to ban horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter. And the best part: hardly a word of media coverage was leaked for a good ten days.

  • July 12, 2013 at 6:13 am
    Texas Mayor Paula Bacon Kicks Some Horse Slaughter Tail

    “You’d be better off with a lead smelter plant and sexually-oriented businesses,” says the fifth-generation resident, citing environmental issues along with the stigma attached to horse slaughter.

    Every small-town mayor is bedeviled by something. For Paula Bacon of Kaufman, Texas, it was Dallas Crown, which slaughtered horses next door to her friend Mary Nash’s 40-acre farm off Highway 175.
    Dallas Crown was shuttered during Bacon’s last term in office after a 20-year legal battle over environmental violations that constantly overwhelmed the city’s wastewater plant with horse blood and discharge. But news that horse slaughter plants may be returning to the U.S in 2012 has Bacon speaking out about what one horse slaughter plant with 46 non-unionized employees can do to a small town of 6,700 hard-working people.

  • July 12, 2013 at 6:28 am



    John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance. Mr. Holland’s talk is titled “Understanding the Forces Behind Horse Slaughter

  • July 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I so fear that horse meat will find its way into our food supply, so much so that when and if the first plant opens I will no long buy any beef products fresh or frozen. There is no way I am going to poison my family to make someone else rich off killing animals that the American people do not eat and who are not raised as food animal to start with.

  • July 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Horse slaughter is a highly expensive proposition for taxpayers.

    Each plant will cost taxpayers $400,000.00, according to this press release. This issue crosses all party lines. Voters and politicians from all sides of the isle are against horse slaughter for a laundry list of reasons.

    Here is the press release:

    “According to the USDA, each horse slaughter facility…would cost U.S. taxpayers over $400,000 per year in operation costs.”

    This is the worst economy since the Great Depression. In addition to the cost of the USDA inspecting plants, at a price tag of $400,000.00 per plant to U.S. taxpayers, the meat will not even be eaten in the U.S. Why should we, as American taxpayers, pay for these inspections?

    Additionally, we have to factor in the taxpayer expense of police officers who will likely be taking more reports on horse theft and making more investigations into horse theft.

    As a horse owner, the thought of horse theft and stolen horses ending up at slaughter concerns me greatly. I would hope that it would concern you, too. Many people think of their horses as family members.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *