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Agreement in Horse Slaughter Case: All Parties Want it to End

The parties suing USDA to stop horse slaughter before it can start up again in the U.S. agree with the government on one thing: they, too, want to get the court case they brought over as quickly as possible. Bruce A. Wagman, attorney for the plaintiffs, has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in New Mexico supporting the government’s request for an expedited hearing and briefing on the merits.

Wagman, who represents the Humane Society of the U.S. and several other animal welfare and horse rescue groups, has suggested a schedule that could put the issue in the hands of Federal District Court Judge M. Christina Armijo by Oct. 10. New Mexico Attorney General Gary K. King joined in Wagman’s motion, which was filed Tuesday.

Judge Armijo has scheduled a Sept. 3 status conference, which attorneys can access by telephone.

Wagman still wants Armijo to rule on his motions to change the Aug. 2 temporary restraining order that blocks two companies with grants of inspection for horsemeat packing from starting those operations unless permitted by the court and to reduce or eliminate the costly bond plaintiffs must come up with for the case to proceed.

On the TRO, Wagman wants it to only prohibit USDA from providing equine inspection services to Valley Meat in New Mexico and Responsible Transportation in Iowa. Currently, it also prohibits those companies from operating horse-slaughter businesses, even though the plaintiffs are not suing them. As long as USDA is barred from doing inspections, horses cannot be slaughtered for human consumption.

That became a big concern for the plaintiffs after a federal magistrate imposed a bond against them of nearly $500,000 a month to cover the possibility that USDA wins the case. In other words, it’s meant to cover the economic harm imposed by the plaintiffs if they lose.

Government attorneys representing USDA’s top three food-safety officials say it’s time to end the court battle that has temporarily banned horse slaughter in the U.S. They’ve asked the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to move immediately to an expedited hearing and ruling on the merits of the case.

This would eliminate the next step that had been anticipated in the case – a hearing on whether to grant the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction. They already won a temporary restraining order.

© Food Safety News
  • raddy

    why stop horse slaughtering….what difference does it make..just because they are viewed as pets and not food…I think we are wasting a lot of money on this dumb case if the feds say it is safe to eat then let people eat horse meat it is a personal choice… no different then other countries that raise dog and cat for food.. come on man.. it is not going to hurt the horse population at all and cattle still are more economical to raise… it is all about the cash and horse meat would be to expensive.. Ahhh I know what this is about the horse breeders are afraid it will drive down the price of horses so it is all about the cash and it would take the value out of the horse industry… So instead of being dog/cat food, strings for guitars or glue they would be for human consumption… who cares it is another market for horse breeders.. the rich horse breeders can still keep there expensive stock just means the price decreases faster over time for them…

    • http://theusfubar.blogspot.com/ Deb Likes-Schroer

      Wow, really? You just might want to google “horse slaughter” and then come back and tell me “what the difference does it make” with a little better understanding on this issue and all of the complicated facets that it involves.

      • savinghorses2

        There are many issues revolving around the reason why we do NOT need horse slaughter-the first is personal responsibility. Second the horse is only used 62 percent of the overall horse and it has 2 times the amount of blood of cattle, that means for every 80,000 horses they butcher they have 40,000 half bodies unusable to dispose of, that end up rotting in piles, did they forget to mention that the DeKalb Sanitation Group proved that the Cheval plant in DeKalb, Illinois had a waste water treatment plant that was STATE OF THE ART not a little business like these wishing to open-and that plant was 8 times larger than any other plant in the United States, it also was brand spanking new, it also cost several million dollars and that treatment plant was cited continuously for having leakage due the fact they could not break down the horse blood to dispose of it safely, it was full of drugs and anti-biotics that made is a dangerous pollutant and that large of a facility that new couldn’t handle it. When these little tiny plants are day dreaming about what they think they know about slaughter, they were on the outskirts of the being tiny cattle plants without any bells or whistles, no experienced horse butchers, and that means that these horses will suffer a great deal more in their deaths while someone is learning to kill them. This is a proven unable to be controlled industry-they have made the market for horses miserable, this is just to prove they are in control. They are just having temper fits about the bottom dollar. We as tax payers cannot afford to pay for these little plants to have expensive slaughter inspectors for an industry that states it will send the meat out of the country for pet food KNOWING that its against Federal Law to sell it as pet food in the United States for killing thousands of pets, so when they say its a good way to make money KNOWING it kills pets they are really just saying “We don’t actually care who or what lives or dies as long as green monies attached to it!” In America we jail people for abuse and neglect and we see many horrific issues where kill buyers pull strings and use legal connections to get out of prosecution. So why should they go unprosecuted for horrific abuse and neglect, while regular people are jailed for less abuse and neglect? We have to look at the market for stolen horses, and then the rumor of the mobile slaughter unit? Do you want these people to get this approved? When they could take a trailer down the road and pull in YOUR driveway while your at work and load your horses and cut them apart and drive away? Come on, start thinking about what these people are ACTUALLY saying they will be doing.

        • susanmeanslily

          All unused parts of slaughtered animals can be rendered.

    • Malinda Sonderberg

      Horses in the US are considered “Companion Animals” and therefore are not treated as Livestock. The medications given to Companion Animals are not safe for human consumption. These medications can cause Blood disorders, Cancers, tumors, etc in humans. It is a lot different than other countries eating dogs and cats….those animals are not given vaccinations at all. And many of us in the US and even folks in the UK do not want tainted horsemeat unknown to us mixed in with our beef or pork. I for one have no plan on allowing my tax dollars to pay for USDA inspectors to inspect the slaughter of animals that are not consumable. If you would like to give the USDA your money, you can pay my share too! And if you’d like to eat the horsemeat, go for it, but when you get sick as hell, I don’t want my tax dollar paying for your medical bills either. You should really research this before making ignorant remarks.

      • Donna

        City slickers consider horses “companion animals”. Most horse people consider them livestock. Let the city slickers step up and pay the funding for keeping all of these “companion animals” alive and well. I don’t see any of the animal rights people putting their money where there mouths are. As far as medications, handle it the same way it’s handled in other livestock.

        • Bioconscious

          Eighty Per Cent of American citizens do not want horses slaughtered. The will of the people should be the deciding factor here-not any individual opinion. By the way, Donna, I would hardly characterize that 80% to be entirely city slickers. People against horse slaughter come from all walks of life. However, I would dearly love to see the cattle ranchers who use 85% of our range land at dirt cheap prices pay full market value.

          Those of us who take care of our horses commonly give them a medication when they are in pain (phenylbutazone) that is known to cause aplastic anemia in humans when horse flesh is consumed. In addition, our horses receive wormers and a plethora of other drugs that are not allowed, by the USDA, to be given to livestock intended for human consumption. Medications are not and have not been “handled” with horses as they are with other livestock. How do you propose to make horse meat safe for consumers?
          By the way, many, many “animal rights people are putting their money where their mouths are”. I gave over $20,000 last year and hope to increase that figure this year. Where do you get your information?

        • Desert Dun Acres

          Donna, FACT: horses ARE companion animals to millions of people. Where did you get the idea they are not? FACT: This city slicker has 16 adopted equines. Seven of them are horses from meat auctions in the north east. I shipped them all from PA, NY, and NJ to Texas at my own considerable expense when they will live out their days in retirement . You must be ignorant of the fact that many of us “animal rights” people DO put their money where our mouths are. FACT: I’m an animal WELFARE person, not animal rights. Did you know there is a difference? FACT: Donna, equine medications are NOT handled the same way as in cattle. Horse meat is toxic. Is beef? Please educate yourself on the facts of the issue before you show your ignorance about the situation and let everyone see how uninformed you are. If you want more facts about the situation from this city slicker who has put thousands of dollars where her mouth is, let me know, Donna.

          • susanmeanslily

            Fact: Horses are livestock according to the USDA. Some individuals may see the horses they own as companions. They aren’t going to be forced to sell them to slaughter. The horses going to slaughter are horses no one but the kill buyer wants. If you and your like-minded friends can come up with the means to “save” every horse going to slaughter, good for you!

        • Horsewoman in the Country

          I run an equine rescue, and can’t tell you how utterly wrong you are. Not only do I live in the country, routinely care for my own horses and foster animals–many f which were SAVED from people like you who consider them livestock and neglect and abuse them…I also spend a fortune each year putting my money where my mouth is.

      • Sarah

        Donna is right. Horses are only companion animals to those that choose to label them as such. My mother raises several Jersey cows that are companion animals to her. She cries when they die, they are halter broke, and you can go in the field and pet them whenever you desire. It is in the eye of the beholder, and banning horse slaughter is a million (or billion) dollar sink hole of money.

        • Suzanne Bryant

          Just to introduce a couple of facts into your belief systems, the FDA (that’s the USA’s Food and Drug Administration) classifies and considers equines companion animals. Additionally, animal welfare advocates, shelter and rescue personal put their money where their mouths are every day of the year. The Equine Industry and the Meat Industry are not one in the same, nor should they be. Handling the drug residue issues for equines in the same way as “meat animals” would eliminate over 100 commonly used and effective medications from the Equine Industry. Hmmm… I wonder what the Pharmaceutical Industry would think about that “unintended consequence”. ?? FWIW, not allowing the USDA to inspect horse slaughter operations would add $5,000,000. to the budget. Horse slaughter is the sink hole, not banning it.

        • Beverley Hughes

          Yeah money, money, money . . . that’s all that matters. Horses built this country. They pulled our wagons, carried us on their backs across the nation and into war. They died for us. Pulled our fire trucks, our coaches, our trains. Pulled our plows, Rounded up and helped move our cattle. They carried our soldiers over rough terrain in Afghanistan. They provide therapy for mentally and physically disabled individuals. They provide companionship and entertainment. They are an American icon. They are everywhere you look – on television, in movies, in our fields, on our plains, on clothing, pillows, our automobiles, coffee cups . . . in our language. “Horse sense” is a REAL thing. They are sentient, intelligent, magnificent animals. We no longer need them, now that we have airplanes, helicopters, ATV’s, trucks and cars. So they – like so much in this society – have become EXPENDABLE. We just want to throw away everything they have done for us and make them dog meat. I’m sorry – but that’s not the American Way. We learned from our mistakes with what we did to the Indians and the African Americans. Using and abusing them, taking what was rightfully theirs and disposing of them at our leisure. Life is not expendable. And it’s damned time we woke up and realized that before these magnificent animals are gone. You can’t take horses and plop them out in the middle of the west and expect them to thrive. Thriving in that environment is a learned skill, passed down from generation to generation. And the BLM and the cattlemen want to wipe the west clean of wild/feral horses that have lived there longer than we have been on this continent. I am sick of people like you who can only see as far as the tips of their nose or the balance in their bank accounts. There are things more valuable than money. And when they are gone, they are gone for good. Anyone can develop an attachment to ANY animal. This is NOT about sentimentality. It is about the facts of what these animals have done for us over history. Horses are a part of our heritage, a symbol of our freedom, the stuff of dreams. And they do NOT deserve to meet their end in a disgusting, abusive SLAUGHTER HOUSE.

      • commonsense

        You obviously have no clue.

        • dk

          commonsense, you either have none or have not done your research.

          Horses being shipped for slaughter are not required to have health certificates. This means all types of diseases could enter a state with a slaughter house from out of state and infect the state’s horses.

          Furthermore, there are over 100 equine drugs that we (the collective horse owners) give our horses that make them unfit for human consumption. The USDA has no business getting mixed up in this.

          Also, I would be worried about horse thieves stealing horses for slaughter since we no longer allow hangings for horse thieves.

          Finally, slaughter houses want the healthy horses and never the old or sick horses. Slaughter houses like the type of horses that would benefit charities for veterans and children.

      • susanmeanslily

        The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on 15 April 2013 concluded that the risks associated to phenylbutazone were of “low concern for consumers due to the low likelihood of exposure and the overall low likelihood of toxic effects and that, on a given day, the probability of a consumer being both susceptible to developing aplastic anaemia and being exposed to phenylbutazone was estimated to range approximately from 2 in a trillion to 1 in 100 million.”
        http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/horsemeat/tests_results_en.htm

    • crookedstick

      uh, not exactly , Raddy. The Quarter Horse Association is in favor for exactly the opposite. They want more and more horses destroyed so they can breed and sell more and more. Same with the Toroughbred Breeders. They don’t want inexpensive horses on the market. These two groups are the main source of horses for slaughter.

      • jrstark

        The Thoroughbred industry is against slaughter. Most tracks have anti-slaughter policies, anyone found sending horses to slaughter will not be allowed to race. Our registrations are the lowest they’ve been in decades, and there are more groups that retire/retrain our athletes for second careers.

    • savinghorses2

      IF the Feds say its safe, its only because they were paid off to say it will be. Remember this is a greed, corruption, and financial gain game and has nothing to do with food source safety or even if they have an actual demand for it. ITs Federal Law to NOT be put in pet food yet they will ship it overseas to put in their pet food, Do you really think that they are focusing on food safety no! Otherwise they would say it killed thousands of dogs in the US and is against the law so we cant sell to them overseas! This isn’t about driving the prices down, horse slaughter has driven prices down not the other way around, they don’t want to pay high prices for horses-why are people so ignorant to believe that? These people want to force prices to be very low-that’s why they told the lies they started that closing the plants would drive prices down. Get on the same page and understand these people are just manipulating government officials to be able to make money no matter who they harm doing it!

    • July-Suzi Michaels-nee Johnson

      I am sure I am not alone, as a long time horse person in saying that raddy your thoughts are not entirely true. The horses that are purchased and sent to slaughter are domestic animals. Part of domestication is that the animal looks toward it’s human caregiver for it’s care. Unless the horse is frequently trailered to shows, trail rides, etc., it’s stress level and fear begin to escalate as it’s separated from it’s familiar surroundings and continues to escalate at the sale barn, as it’s rushed through the sale ring (often with cattle prods) and as it’s crammed sardine style into transport trailers and the hellashish trip to death begins. I’ve been particularly circumspect in my description of what I consider a pure betrayal of trust in our God-given role of caretakers. It is a heart breaking sight if you happen to be at a horse auction and witness the killer buyers’ handling processes.

      And no, I don’t feel that it’s ok for the same kind of handling to be used with cattle and hogs-USDA has enough on it’s plate trying to regulate and over-seeing this part of the meat industry, particularly with federal cutbacks. Adding horse slaughter houses to their work load is going to be a neglected disaster.

      And actually, the slaughter industry kept horse prices up. Money isn’t everything to
      everyone.

      I’m pretty sure the majority of U.S. citizens have no taste for horsemeat. Previous slaughtered horse meat found it’s way to foreign countries.

    • Streakin amber

      Excuse me… I would like to think we live in a civil society…. This country was founded on the back of a horse….so you can thank your freedom to not only the men who fought …. But their noble steeds that carried them to battle …. With is wrong with you don’t you have any respect ???? Oh wait … I’m sorry … You think your freedom came without ant price to anyone

  • terri

    Justice is never swift. Corporations play games so that the other parties loose by default. Beware of big business tricks, games. Don’t let them win.

  • vickysecho

    Since funding for inspection has already been removed from the impending legislation and US horses are not food animals, given many medications and topicals never allowed in food animals, it should be over already!

    • http://theusfubar.blogspot.com/ Deb Likes-Schroer

      That does not go into effect until 2014. So they are doing their best to set a precedence before the year is over.

  • dk

    There is a brand new Facebook page dedicated to consolidating all of the anti-horse slaughter petitions into one place, so you no longer have to go looking for them all!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Horses-from-Slaughter-The-Petition-Sight/141706992706386

    • Gertrude “Trudy”

      You all have such good factual points to offer, but telling us the facts won’t tell the judge or plaintiff. Please get together and combine these separate facts into one concise, effective summation, with a request to the judge to rule in favor of plaintiff based on these facts, and send the summation and request to the judge and to the plaintiff. But hurry! If you don’t do it before the conference phone call, it might be no use to do it afterward. This private phone call sounds like it might decide the whole case, with further court procedures being just a formality. The people you most need to convince are the ones who, it sounds like, intend to settle the matter privately by phone instead of on public record in a courtroom. Sounds like their ducks are already lined up. While ours are still quacking at each other. Don’t let these guys get away with literally murder scot-free.

      • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

        You do not EVER contact the judge.

        I don’t know who you are, but you might as well drive the horses to the slaughter house by advocating bothering a judge.

        Unbelievable.

  • debbie
    • http://beaelliott.blogspot.com/ Bea Elliott

      That is sooooo easy to do! ;)

  • debbie
    • Sheri Ellenbecker

      YES–no beef here. It better for the environment to abstain from beef. But the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is one of the few that file lobby reports AGAINST the SAFE ACT. So let’s not eat beef. It is easier than you think. We have been beef free since Jan 1, 2013–AND PROUD OF IT–none of my dollars going to support horse slaughter

  • 13redwitches

    Disgusting.

  • Nancy

    My understanding is that the funding will be there for the inspections; so the law suit is still necessary. Hopefully Bruce Wagman will prevail and prevent the horse slaughter to continue to be blocked. The House and Senate, however, need to act to outlaw this horrfic treatment of horses that are not and never should be treated as though they are livestock.

  • Jessica Perdue-guttman

    The USDA is now the mafia and wagman needs to step-up his game and stop acting like an ignorant wimp

  • dk

    Thank you, MorganLvr. Well said!

  • oldcowvet

    Seems to me the only real issues against horse slaughter are 1. Humane handling, and 2. Drug residues. Some of the other claims are not going to help your case. Extra blood, and other offal? I think it is possible to deal with the remains of 400 horses a day if a 10,00 head a day hog slaughter can manage. Things like that really are not relevant. But residue and handling should carry the day. Things like bute, clenbuteral, and the like are bad actors. FYI, most wormers have an sister approved for food animals, same with abx. But who knows what else is illicitly dumped into horses, heaven only knows. I agree, way too many irresponsible owners/breeders, at least form my point of view.
    Randopm thoughts form a sleep deprived old timer.

    • susanmeanslily

      I agree with you. The horses need to be handled humanely…as should all other animals going to slaughter. The FSIS has come up with new testing protocols for testing horse meat safety, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

  • susanmeanslily

    There is a market for horse meat in this country. It’s hard to buy when it hasn’t been legal to have it in our grocery stores. There are people in Florida that are paying up to $40 a pound on the Black Market, so obviously there are people who want to eat it.

    • florida girl

      That 1arrow up was a typing error, leave florida out of your horse eating agenda. There is no market for it here. Fair warning. Back off.

  • susanmeanslily

    How many horses in the slaughter pipeline have been given breathing treatments? The horses that have had the kind of expense you are talking about aren’t the same as the ones that are sent through loose at a sale barn to sell by the pound. People who consider their horses livestock don’t put that kind of expense into their horses.

    • Horsewoman in the Country

      Wrong again!!! We’ve had horses that are young healthy, great bloodlines, great conformation, and clear signs of love and care that have sadly ended up going loose through the sale barn. A recent QH Gelding comes to mind who is now competing nationally WITH NO brush up training at all. Kill buyers scour classifieds and Craigslist to make a quick buck on people who think that by putting a low price or free price on horse they will find a phenomenal home with someone loving and deserving. They put on an act, and pretend to be a great person to turn that horse into slaughter profit. A known kill buyer in these parts stooped so low as to have his daughter join a University Equestrian Team, and she was responding to ads for inexpensive horses to get stock for them to send to slaughter. That doesn’t even begin to address the issue of kill buyers stealing horses right out of the pasture. Most horse slaughter trades people are liers, thieves, and criminals.

      • susanmeanslily

        Kill horses bring next to nothing. A horse that is ridable is worth more than killer price. The horses I’ve seen being bought at sales by kill buyers are either crippled or untrained. Sound horses that are trained bring more than killer price.

  • susanmeanslily

    The FSIS is quite well aware there are some people who give their horses medication. Horses will be flagged if it is suspected and the meat from other horses will be tested as per their scientifically based sample procedures. Your personal attacks on Donna are ignorant.

  • susanmeanslily

    Calling people names is so ignorant…

  • susanmeanslily

    The FSIS has new testing procedures for horse meat to insure it is safe for human consumption.

  • Wild Horse Annie

    I’m done with the subject. The BLM needs to be shut down. Wild horses need to be protected by a govt. funded wild horse association maybe a dept of homeland security. Native American tribes have traded culture and spirituality for money. Cattle Ranchers need to purchase grazing land and not use protected lands and forestry that are for WILD life. Cattle are livestock used for consumption. Horses have WILD ancestry and are not livestock. They are domesticated WILD animals. The argument only continues because it’s about money and greed. Just another Joe Shmoe trying to stick another hamburger down your throat so you can work until you die before you turn 50 and not need social security as it will be nonexistent. See the big picture here.

  • Terra Pennington

    As long as we don’t have to pay for USDA inspection on a animal we don’t view as a food animal. As long as a horse slaughter plant is not allowed to open in the USA…

  • problemsolver

    Things moving in the right direction for now.

  • susanmeanslily

    There is a cultural bias in the US eating horse meat. There have always been “reject” horses going to slaughter. I have no doubt there are horses going to slaughter that could be re-homed successfully. I wish that would happen. I wish the rescues would take in more of the horses that have potential rather than the horses that are money pits. I’ve seen a huge lessening of horse breeding, but that will take many years to bring the glut of horse numbers down. Even then, there will always be horses that are unsound or too aggressive to be desirable and there needs to be an outlet.

  • Roisin

    These people in S. FL so “desperate” for horse meat need to go back to their country where they can satisfy their craving and not be so “desperate” for horse flesh that they steal and eat peoples horses or they can adapt and assimilate. It is their choice ! Next you will be advocating for a dog and cat slaughter business in order to satisfy those “desperate” for dog and cat meat because it is their “culture”. But I guess that would be fine with sophisticated you ! .

    • susanmeanslily

      There is a big difference in a 10 pound cat, a 40 pound dog and a 1000 pound horse. Animals that are no longer wanted need to be disposed of, just like the thousands of dogs and cats that are disposed of on a daily basis in shelters. At least the horse meat is useful. There are people who want to eat it, and willing to pay for it. As long as that horse is given a good life and a quick death, it isn’t going to care if someone eats its flesh when it’s dead. I’m listed as an organ donor. When I’m dead, I’d like to have my body be useful. People who are desperate for food will eat anything. (The Donnor Party for example.) If horse steaks were served in soup kitchens, I doubt very many people would turn their nose up at it, as you have done with your comments. You seem to elevate yourself above others. Very judgemental of you.

      • Horsee

        That I can understand. But people are buying horses that can find a good home are being bought off to be made into food. Horses that can have a better life. Or uncared for, diseased horses that dont even get fed. Pregnant Horses. It’s still not right. And WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, Trying to judge us?? YOU have NO right!! I have the freedom of speech, and YOU, are a selfish, judgemental person

    • Horsee

      I agree with you. If people want to eat animals, they can do it in their own country. We will not give up our animals so people can sastisfy their “cravings”

      • susanmeanslily

        I never said you should give up “your” animals. You can keep your horses for life, if you want to. Other people should be able to decide what to do with their private property, however. If someone sells their horse, it is no longer their business what is done with it. If a person wants to buy it and eat it, that is their right. There are plenty of horses being neglected that would be better off killed. A bullet to the brain is better than slowly starving.

  • susanmeanslily

    I’ve owned horses for 40 years. The fly spray and wormer I use has the same ingredients used in cattle sheep and pigs. The USDA is quite capable of testing for any drug residues, so I’m less worried about the meat I eat than the pesticides people put on their crops.

  • Horsee

    I do that to my cattle before they get sent off to be my family’s dinner. So do the rest of my friends and family.