-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Below is a message that we individually addressed to each member of the United States House of Representatives, along with a series of fact sheets and information that we have provided to them on behalf of the horse industry.
We encourage anyone who SUPPORTS the restoration of humane and regulated processing of horses, and the responsible management and control of wild and feral horses on federal, state, tribal, and private lands to join us on a new and very active United Horsemen Facebook Group. (If you do not want to receive lots of emails you may want to adjust your settings at the top of the page once you have been accepted.) Membership is by invitation, nomination by existing members, or by requesting to join.
This is not a forum for debate with those who disagree with these positions, and abuse of the privilege will result in being banned from the site.
It is time to stand up, speak out, and be heard! Feel free to use anything you find here, or change it to suit yourself. No one here cares who gets the credit, we just want to spread the word, and do the most effective job possible of reaching out to every single Congressman and Senator. Find more on the Facebook Group, or on our Website to build your own talking points. Tell your own story. Be polite. Be concise. Tell the truth.
Contact your Senators and Representatives. Find out when they are going to be in your district, ask for a personal meeting, go to their town hall events...at the very least make a personal call and ask for their staffer who works on agriculture and/or animal issues, send them an email.
To the Honorable United States House of Representatives,
We represent a broad based nationwide coalition of horse owners and every sector of the horse industry along with state and local governments, tribes, animal scientists, veterinarians, land and resource managers, pet animal groups, wildlife conservation organizations, animal welfare groups (not to be confused with animal rights efforts), pet animal groups, animal agriculture organizations, livestock marketers, and more--literally hundreds of thousands of horses and horse owners from every nook and cranny of the United States.
When considering actions with deep implications to an entire equine industry and our beloved horseback culture we ask that you first listen to the compassionate horsemen and women who offer real solutions. We know you are being flooded with hyper-emotional messages from professional fundraisers. It behooves you to listen most closely to professional horsemen and women.
We are writing to ask you to PLEASE SUPPORT any and all efforts to restore humane and regulated processing of horses in the United States. The entire horse industry from top to bottom has been financially and spiritually devastated, and far too many horses and families are suffering unnecessarily because of the emotional and illogically driven rhetoric of a vocal few.
A GAO Report requested by the Senate Ag Appropriations Committee more than a year and a half ago is due to be published within days. Please make sure that you review the GAO findings on the welfare of horses themselves since the U.S. horse plants were closed, and the effect that closure has had on the equine industry economy before supporting any effort that would further devastate our already deeply impacted industry.
Some horse owners may consider their horses as pets that they never want to see used as a food animal. That is fine. They have a very simple solution--don't sell them. They do NOT have the right to determine how every other horse owner in the Nation decides to use or dispose of their animals so long as horses are not abused. Humane processing is not abuse of horses any more than it is abuse of cattle, hogs, sheep, or chickens.
When you survey the people who actually make, or try to make, any part of their living with horses--breeding, training, showing, performing, marketing, or using them as tools of their trade in ranching, farming, or providing horseback experiences--you will find nearly unanimous and resounding pleas:
- Do not take away our private property rights;
- Designating horses as pets would have serious consequences for the horse industry because it would deprive an entire sector of agriculture the same tax advantages and protections that other livestock industries enjoy;
- Do not mandate a single fate for unusable, unwanted, or excess horses that only results in thousands of pounds of toxic waste and an environmental disposal problem;
- Do not continue to deny U.S. horse owners the solace of knowing that their horses are professionally dispatched in a humane and regulated processing facility where they do not have to be transported thousands of miles, their lives are not wasted, and the meat can be used to feed a thriving worldwide market;
- Stop the capricious and arbitrary destruction of a legitimate market for U.S. businesses and exporting our opportunity to other countries;
- Do not deny us a legitimate secondary market and reasonable return on our investment that we can use to rebuild our shattered economic lives (market reports indicate 30% to 80% loss of value in all horses nationwide since 2007);
- Let us raise our children and grandchildren in our beloved horseback culture,;
- We don't want to live in a nation where only the extremely rich and the privileged few can afford to have the joy of horses in their lives.
Linked here are strongly worded resolutions that have been passed by national organizations reflecting the position of the states, the counties, and the tribes.
Many states such as Oregon, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Missouri and others are actively seeking to establish horse processing to reinvigorate their agricultural economies. Congress should not stand in their way. It is estimated that with the ability to have USDA inspection on a fee basis where the processor pays for the service and there is ZERO impact on the federal budget--that over 1,000 much needed and good paying jobs would be created practically overnight. These are jobs America cannot afford to lose.
There is a thriving worldwide market for horse meat. Argentina recently became the largest exporter. China and Mexico are the largest consumers followed by Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Korea, Japan, and beyond. If U.S. businesses had the opportunity to participate it would go a long ways toward achieving the import/export balance our country needs.
For a fuller discussion of the rich and honorable history of the use of horse meat in the United States please see the article posted below, the Truth About Horses, which was published in Range Magazine. Linked here is another Range article which documents the ecological and unnecessary catastrophe that is destroying Tribal Horses and lands. The tribes no longer have a market for their excess horses. Unmanaged horse herds such as the tribes have double in population every four years, but unlike the BLM, the tribes do not have the luxury of calling on the American taxpayer to house excess horses off of their lands at tremendous expense. They need a processing market to be able to responsibly control their herds, as do states, and private landowners.
Attached below are additional fact sheets with important information you need to be aware of in order to make reasoned decisions.
Our coalition has dedicated ourselves to the well being of horses and horse people. We will assist in every way that we can to build modern state-of-the-art processing facilities that are designed for the unique characteristics of horses to ensure humane handling, are environmentally sound, where employees are well trained and monitored constantly, and that the highest standards of humane handling and food safety are upheld. Currently we have absolutely no control over the circumstances in other countries.
Please do not be deceived by the factory fundraising of an anti-agriculture, anti-animal owner, nonprofit machine that pays no taxes, generates no revenue, creates no jobs, and offers no solution to end the suffering of thousands of starving and abandoned horses. HSUS claims wildly exaggerated numbers of supporters in your district, but please remember, selling a magazine subscription to a kind hearted lady who feels sorry for pathetic weepy eyed kittens, three legged dogs, and skinny horses on a million dollar TV ad does not translate into votes, nor does it translate into any real benefit for a single cat or dog, let alone a horse. HSUS spends less than 1/2 of 1% on the direct care of any animal, and in fact spends a huge proportion on direct lobbying which is not allowed under IRS 501c3 nonprofit regulations. Because of this blatant abuse at least six of your colleagues have demanded a thorough investigation and the removal of their nonprofit status. We would encourage you to support your colleagues' call to action. The taxpayers are being bilked out of millions so that this so-called nonprofit can attack our food producers.
Once again, we join with compassionate citizens from across the country to ask you to PLEASE SUPPORT any and all efforts that lead to a humane and regulated horse processing system in the United States-to please support every measure that stops the exportation of our opportunities and our jobs to other countries.
Our members and supporters stand ready and willing to testify on the realities facing the horse industry today, and what is necessary to rescue it from a sad demise.
Representative Sue Wallis, Wyoming State Legislature
United Organizations of the Horse - President
The Truth About Horses
In 1880, the United States of America had about 6.9 million horses. There was no such thing as a "wild horse." All horses had economic value as transportation, as draft animals, and as a source of food, leather, and byproducts. Horses were used for everything from transportation to plowing fields to providing the power to run machinery. Some Native American tribes, like the Apache, didn't use horses for transport all that much...they mostly ate what they caught.
At the height of the Depression, the Federal Government decided that the reason the cattle market was so poor was not because the economy was ruined, but that there were too many cattle. Ranchers were forced to sell their cattle to the government for $1 per head. Government agents dug huge pits, they drove in the cattle, and they shot them all. They covered it with lye so that no one could use the meat. My grandparents remembered this. It was a scar on their souls for the rest of their lives.
The end result was failure. It didn't fix the cattle market, and when World War II broke out, there wasn't enough beef to feed the troops.
We sent all the beef we had to the troops, and when that ran out we started using horse meat both at home and abroad. Older folks remember eating a lot of horse meat during the War. It was good wholesome meat-high in protein, low in fat-at an affordable price.
After the War, cattlemen moved quickly to regain market share. Cattle numbers were on the rise. John Deere was sweeping the country. With the advent of mechanized machinery there was less and less need for horses. The overabundance of horses was a threat to the cattlemen. Unscrupulous characters were buying up excess horses for pennies, passing the meat off as beef, and making a killing.
Cattlemen disparaged horse meat as unfit for consumption-they reminded servicemen of nasty canned meat in the trenches of warfare. States like Texas and Illinois actually passed laws around 1948 that banned the consumption of horse meat. In 1948 the issue was not animal rights. It was economics and market share, pure and simple.
In 1946 my husband's grandfather bought a ranch in Ruby Valley, Nevada. The outfit included 200 cows, and 80 head of horses. Most of the ranches in Ruby Valley ran their horse herd together. They gathered once a year and each ranch cut out their own haying teams and saddle horses. When they finished the summer's work they kept up a few of their favorites, and turned the rest back out until the next year.
Soon all of those ranches were putting their hay up with machinery. They simply quit gathering the horses. They weren't worth the effort to gather and sell.
This happened everywhere in the West. It is the true evolution of the mustangs. They are no more, and no less, than a feral invasive species. Unmanaged horse herds double in population every four years. We ought to be looking at them the same way we do feral hogs, zebra mussels and kudzu.
Those of us who live in the West have seen the devastation first hand. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is caught between a mandate to protect the range and a romantic notion of horses fed by popular literature, animal rights radicals, and Hollywood. Private horse owners, states, and tribes are all caught in a no-win situation where all of the tools to manage unusable, unwanted, abandoned, excess horses are eliminated.
That is the short history of horses in the United States. Today we have 10 million domestic horses, and another 70,000 plus of so-called wild horses either overpopulating the public lands, or standing in feed lots and holding pens because they can't give them away. Who in their right mind would pay $125 to adopt an inbred, unknown mustang when you can buy truckloads of high quality, registered weanlings and yearlings for $10 a head at any horse sale in the country?
In spite of the fact that we have 3 million more domestic horses than we ever needed when we used them for everything, a conglomeration of animal rights organizations led by the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (HSUS/PETA) have succeed in shutting down the remaining three horse processing plants in the U.S. in 2007, primarily by making those 1948 cattle industry driven horse meat bans stick in the courts.
These radical initiatives offer no solution to the inevitable glut of unwanted, excess horses. Their efforts have prevented the BLM from doing what needs to be done to control the over-population of feral horses on Western rangelands, and has destroyed the horse market. With no bottom to the market, the value of all domestic horses has dropped by 30% to 80% nationwide.
With no market the only unusable horses that have any economic value whatsoever are those that are big enough and healthy enough to be worth the trucking to Canada or Mexico. There is no option for horse owners who can no longer afford to keep a horse, or who want to get some value out of a horse. The inevitable result is an explosion of abandoned and neglected horses nation-wide, an absolute disaster of suffering, starvation, and disease.
In the West it is easy to dump horses on public or tribal lands. Back East they turn them out in state parks and on roads where people hit them with cars. The general population is starting to understand that there might be more to this story than the manipulated video segments and outrageous sound bites would have us believe.
There is no sound basis in either science or ethics for the emotional rhetoric of radical groups who seek to destroy the livestock culture, and to preempt the rights of horse owners.
"Horses are pets, companions, and sporting animals...they are not livestock." Whether horses are pets or livestock they are undoubtedly private property. So long as animals are not unnecessarily abused, no one has the right to dictate to horse owners how their horses should be managed, or how they can be disposed of-that is the central tenet of private property rights.
"Americans don't eat horses, and we shouldn't be supplying those who do." Many Americans do eat horsemeat, or would if it was available. The majority of world cultures consider horsemeat a common, ordinary food. China consumes the most horse meat in the world at 100 million tons per year, with Mexico close behind. In Europe, Italy consumes the most followed closely by the Scandinavian countries, Belgium and France. You can find horse in the meat cases at both ends of Canada in Quebec and Vancouver. Americans ate a lot of horse meat during and after World War II. Horse sausage can be found in Scandinavian butcher shops in the upper Midwest. Crooks are butchering other peoples' horses in Florida and selling it out of coolers on the street for black market prices. Cultures like the Tongan population in Salt Lake City prize horse meat. Young parents who are struggling to raise healthy kids on limited resources would welcome an affordable, delicious meat.
"Horses are a spiritual icon of the West and our heritage" So are longhorn cattle, deer, elk, bear and moose. We eat them all. What makes horses exempt? Our Native American neighbors teach us that all animals are sacred, and horses, just like elk, deer, cattle, and turkeys should be harvested with gratitude and reverence.
"It is cruel and inhumane to slaughter a horse." There are long-standing humane methods of slaughter legislation for all classes of food animals, and government inspection of meat processing plants. These laws include the handling of live animals, and veterinarian approved methods of humane killing. Once death has occurred all sensation ends. What happens to the carcass is no longer an issue of animal welfare.
Regardless of all this, there is a well financed, orchestrated effort to insist that killing a horse for food is cruel and inhumane. If this can be legally established, then those of us who make a living with livestock know that there is really no difference between slaughtering a cow and slaughtering a horse. Next the radicals will assert that all animal agriculture is cruel and inhumane, destroying our way of being and our culture utterly and completely.
All of the solutions to excess horses come down to the answer to one question. Is it moral for human beings to eat horses? If the answer is no, we better figure out how to sanitarily, environmentally and economically dispose of up to 200,000 toxic drug ridden domestic and wild horse carcasses per year at an average of 1000 pounds per horse. If the answer is yes, than that same 100,000 tons of wholesome meat represents a decent return to the owners that they can reinvest, and it also represents high quality protein to nourish millions both at home and abroad who appreciate it and who are willing to pay a fair price.
Aristotle encouraged moderation and saw extremes as degraded and immoral. The animal rights argument to ban horses as human food is an example of one of those degraded and immoral extremes.
Here is why:
- Human beings have evolved as meat eaters. We have eyes in the front of our heads to hunt, and teeth in our mouths designed to tear and chew meat. We can survive, and be healthy on a diet of nothing but meat, while a totally vegan diet requires knowing exactly what, when, and how to eat, and for long-term health requires synthetic nutrients that can only naturally be found in animal products. No society on earth is now, or ever has been completely vegan, for obvious reasons.
- It is ethical for human beings to keep livestock so long as animals are provided adequate feed and water, and killed humanely. This is not only a moral imperative, but a quality and economic consideration. A stressed animal will have a system full of adrenaline, the meat will be tough and the flavor poor.
- There are moral considerations around wildlife. If a hunted animal is wounded, they must be tracked and killed rather than suffer. Hunters should kill quickly and painlessly for exactly the same moral and quality of meat purposes as for livestock. Ask any proficient hunter why their inept counterpart's meat is so "gamey" and they'll be quick to tell you that flavor and tenderness are the result of a clean kill, and how the meat is handled.
- It is unethical to allow any species to become so overpopulated that they destroy the ecosystem. For this reason wildlife managers monitor the interaction of plants, predators, and prey, the condition of the land, water, erosion, and invasive species. They utilize lethal means to control populations.
- Not only do wildlife managers resort to intensified hunting seasons, predator controls, and extreme measures when necessary, but so do cities, towns, and counties utilize lethal means to control feral dogs and cats. Animals are humanely killed when they are not adoptable or wanted.
- It is arrogant and insensitive for animal rights advocates to disrespect the culinary traditions and cultural attitudes of other people and other nations.
- Finally, how ethical is it to put off limits a vast, renewable source of wholesome, high quality protein when more than 17,000 children a day die from malnutrition around the world?
The contention that taxpayers must pay for a welfare entitlement program so that every last feral and domestic horse can live out its thirty or more years of life on government supported old horse homes is ludicrous. You may find the use of horse meat objectionable. I find the eating of lima beans repulsive. Neither one of us has the right to enforce our prejudice on our neighbors. It is as simple as that.
Know the Facts - EU Technical Report and Veterinarian Summary Shows Zero Prohibited Drug Residues in Horses
It has come to our attention that anti-horse activists are trying to spin the results of an official European Union food safety document to portray horse meat as unsafe and full of toxic drug residues.
When faced with this kind of inflammatory rhetoric it is best to know the facts, and to get those facts directly from the scientists and veterinarians. To that end, please find here a summary of the EU document that is posted on the Vetsweb site, as well as a link to the entire European Food Safety Authority Technical Document:
Summary on drug residues in animals and animal products on Vetsweb.com
Please note - this report was published in 2010 for samples in 2009, and it only covers animals produced and processed in the European Union. It does not cover the U.S., Canada or Mexico. The report covers bovines, pigs, sheep and goats, horses, poultry, aquaculture, milk, eggs, rabbit meat, farmed game, wild game, and honey. The report notes that the methodology has changed so is not valid to compare to previous years.
"The residue situation in 2009 was similar to the two previous years for all substance groups. However, because the sampling plan and the spectrum of analysed substances were not necessarily the same over the three years, such comparisons should be regarded as having a high degree of uncertainty."
Most importantly of all, if you take the time to actually read the report you will see that it shows that the incidence of prohibited drugs in horses is zero. Even where the anti-horse activists are crowing about the report showing that the horse samples were higher for hormones and for NSAIDS (which are NOT in the prohibited category), the only way they could show higher levels in horses is by purposely leaving out results for sheep and goats which were twice as high as the incidence in horse meat.
Do not be deceived by anti-agriculture animal rights activists' misinformation campaigns. Again zero prohibited drugs in the prohibited A1 steroid category. Only two European Union member countries reported one sample each of B1 anti-bacterials non compliant samples out of 3,000 - one sample in Austria, the other in Estonia.
Know the facts!
Know the Facts - Addendum
We specifically addressed the information in the EU Technical Document above because it was being cited as "proof" that horse meat is inherently unsafe, when in fact the report shows nothing of the sort. It shows that horse meat has zero incidence of prohibited drugs, and very low incidence of samples of higher than acceptable levels of non-prohibited drugs. Other species such as sheep and goats processed in Europe showed twice as many non-compliant samples as horse meat.
Here are links and documents regarding the incidence of drug residues in meat prepared by the governments of both Canada and Mexico, as well as links to U.S. government information in regards to preventing drug residues in meat generally, but which, of course has not included horse meat since 2007.