Animal Welfare Institute and National Black Farmers Association Call for Balanced Debate on Horse Slaughter Issue

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

American Horse Council and USDA Holds Disingenuous Conference on "Unwanted Horse Issue"

Washington, D.C. -- Today, The American Horse Council (AHC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a conference entitled "The Unwanted Horse Issue: What Now?"

Despite constant assurances from USDA organizers that this event would have nothing to do with horse slaughter the meeting turned out to be exactly what the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) had anticipated from the start; a platform for a stacked panel of pro-slaughter representatives to further promote the practice of horse slaughter under the guise of talking about the "unwanted horse" population.

"Having the United States Department of Agriculture endorse an event like this really is a shame. What we need is a truly balanced debate that addresses sound, humane solutions to horse welfare issues. Unfortunately it seems like today's intentions lie less with the interests of the horses and more with the interest of profit," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI.

What can only be described as a largely one-sided event, proponents of horse slaughter once again used their "unwanted horse" campaign as a way to perpetuate the idea that horse slaughter is a necessary evil without which horses will be subjected to mass neglect or abandonment. During the forum, slaughter proponents offered no solutions or options on how to fix the problem of unwanted horses, but continuously insisted that slaughtering is a humane way of dealing with surplus horses.

What they failed to mention about their supposedly humane solution are the thousands of miles that horses are made to travel without rest, food, or water, in cramped double deck trailers on their way to the slaughter house and the brutal way in which they are killed.

"I came to attend an open forum about caring for horses, and all I heard about is that horses are personal property that can and should be slaughtered if the owners of this property want to do so," said Dr. John Boyd, President of The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA). "When I tried to inform the audience of our recently announced initiative with AWI, "Project Wanted Horse", which will help care for America's horses in need, I was immediately shot down. I thought this was a forum to discuss solutions, not squash ideas."

In the ultimate act of hypocrisy, the event included a keynote address by former Congressman and current horse meat industry lobbyist Charlie Stenholm announcing a systematic effort to go to county and state associations and legislatures with their campaign in support of horse slaughter. If he can't mislead the Congress and the American public on the issue he will try on another level.

"It is hard to believe that the USDA and The American Horse Council really expect a "balanced" debate from an industry paid lobbyist. It seems like once again, special interests and profits are being put before welfare," noted Heyde.

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For over 57 years the Animal Welfare Institute has been the leading voice for animals across the country and on Capitol Hill to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. To learn more about us, please visit http://www.awionline.org/.

The National Black Farmers Association was founded in 1995. Today the NBFA has more than 94,000 members. For more information, please visit our Web site at: www.blackfarmers.org.