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Plant closures did not cut horse slaughter - alliance

February 9, 2010

The Equine Welfare Alliance says its latest research on horse slaughter challenges the arguments of slaughter proponents over the effects of the 2007 closings of US plants.

The Chicago-based alliance analysed monthly horse slaughter totals as reported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Canadian horse meat exports as reported by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The group says its findings show that the closings had no impact on slaughter totals, challenging the argument of horse slaughter proponents on the impact on the horse industry since the plants closed in 2007.

Graphs in the study show exports quickly replaced domestic slaughter during 2007. The figures indicated 2008 was the second highest year for slaughter since 1995.

The study shows that the export of slaughter horses remained relatively steady until the autumn of 2008 when the banking collapse precipitated a worldwide economic decline. A few months later exports began to fall off markedly.

One of the interesting relationships found in the study was that lower horse prices after the economic downturn did not bring higher slaughter sales, but just the opposite.

The export of slaughter horses to Mexico and Canada were down about 20 per cent for 2009, corresponding to a similar decrease in horse meat exports from Canada to the European Union and Japan.

The findings prove that the number of horses slaughtered is not related to the number of "unwanted horses", but to the demand for horse meat, alliance representatives John Holland and Vicki Tobin said.

The economy will continue to take a toll on the horse industry as with other businesses, they said.

"Breeders, like other producers, will simply have to cut back on production or suffer the consequences," says Holland.

"The findings should serve as a warning to communities that are being coaxed by slaughter proponents to build horse slaughter plants in Montana and other states."



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