Coalition Reacts to Horse Slaughter Ruling by Tenth Circuit

Return to Freedom and AWHPC Founder Neda DeMayo with Ginger, a horse who was literally rescued off the slaughterhouse floor when the last U.S. horse slaughter plant in closed in Texas in 2007.

(December 14, 2013). . . . The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) and its parent organization Return to Freedom (RTF) reacted with alarm to yesterday's ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that clears the way for horse slaughter plants to open in the United States. They now call on Congress to ban the barbaric practice of horse slaughter once and for all.

“It's a sad irony that the court gave a green light to horse slaughter on the National Day of the Horse, designated by Congress to honor the contribution that horses have made to our nation," said Neda DeMayo, Founder and President of Return to Freedom. “It's the ultimate betrayal for these animals who are our companions and partners in work and recreation." 

"America is not a horse eating culture, and the vast majority of Americans oppose the cruel practice of horse slaughter," DeMayo added. "It’s time for Congress to act to prevent this brutal and predatory industry from re-establishing itself in our nation.”

According to RTF and AWHPC, Congress must pass the SAFE (Safeguard American Food Exports) Act, which would ban the practice of horse slaughter in the U.S. and prohibit the transport of horses across our borders to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico.

As an interim measure, Congress must pass budget language to prohibit federal funding for USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants. Without such inspections, plants cannot produce horsemeat for human consumption. All versions of the 2014 budget bill – the President’s budget as well as the Senate and House budgets – include this “defund” language. 

Congress must pass a budget bill by mid-January in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Over 150,000 American horses – both domestic and wild – are currently trucked to Canada and Mexico for slaughter each year. The horses are slaughtered to supply foreign horsemeat markets in France, Belgium and Asia. The majority of U.S. horses shipped across the border for slaughter come from the thoroughbred racing and quarter horse industry, where irresponsible breeding is the major contributing factor.

“Of particular concern is the fate of 50,000 wild horses who have been removed from the range by the Bureau of Land Management and are stockpiled in government holding facilities, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $100,000 per day,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director. “ “There is no question that the BLM is trying to create a crisis by stockpiling so many horses in order to justify slaughtering them. The reopening of horse slaughter plants in the U.S. will bring the BLM one step closer to that goal.”

RTF and AWHPC said that the BLM must stop removing wild horses and burros from the wild and start managing them on the range with fertility control, a solution endorsed earlier this year by the National Academy of Sciences. The BLM must also repatriate wild horses from holding facilities back to habitat areas that have been closed to wild horse and burro use over the past 40 years. Since 1971, BLM has removed over 20 million acres of habitat from wild horses and burros. 

The SAFE Act has 162 co-sponsors in the House and 27 co-sponsors in the Senate.

Return to Freedom is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world. Return to Freedom provides a safe haven to over 300 wild horses and burros at its sanctuary in Santa Barbara, California and in Nevada where the group is planning to create a larger wild horse preserve.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, founded in 2004 by Return to Freedom, is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come. 

Media Coverage:

Judge delays ruling of horse slaughter plant, ABQ Journal

Friday hearing set on horse slaughter, Associated Press

Horse slaughterhouse opening on hold, ABQ Journal

US agriculture bill could bury horse slaughter plans,

New Mexico Attorney General Sues To Stop Horse Slaughter, Huffindton Post

New Mexico horse slaughter plant to open Jan. 1 with 20 horses from Nevada, Associated Press

Join Return to Freedom and Robert Redford in Fight to Protect America’s Wild and Domestic Horses, Return to Freedom

Mo. company prepares to process horse meat, SF Gate

Roswell horse slaughter plant to open Jan. 1, KOB News

U.S. appeals court lifts ban on horse slaughter, Reuters

Appeals Court Vacates Ban on US Horse Slaughter, Associated Press

Horse Slaughter Plants Prepare to Open, Associated Press

Iowa horse-slaughtering plant weighs it's options, WHBF-TV

N.M horse slaughter plant prepares to open, Connect Amarillo

Horse slaughter battle continues, KRQE News