The Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs met this Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the impact of to the closure of horse slaughter facilities on the agricultural sector of the Texas economy. A copy of the meeting notice can be downloaded here.

The Committee heard both invited and public testimony on the issue of whether or not horse slaughter should be resumed in Texas. 

Texas Capitol Building at Austin, Texas

Included among those who gave testimony were:

  • A representative of the Humane Society of the United States;

I viewed part of the meeting from my office via the live streaming video recording (an archive of which can be viewed on this page). There was a full house in attendance. Many attendees showed up to state their opposition to horse slaughter due to their belief that the process is inherently inhumane. Their general response to the economic issues was that people should be breeding fewer horses, and that irresponsible breeders and owners are at fault for the unwanted horse problem. 

The horse industry groups generally presented evidence indicating the negative economic impact that the closure of the slaughter plants has had on the industry. The horse industry groups also presented studies evidencing the increased suffering of horses caused by the closure of the slaughter plants due to neglect and transport to Mexico for slaughter.

The veterinary associations’ general stance on this issue is as follows:  Horse processing is not the ideal solution for addressing the large number of unwanted horses in the U.S.  However, if a horse owner is unable or unwilling to provide humane care and no one is able to assume the responsibility, euthanasia at a processing facility in a manner designated as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association is an acceptable alternative to a life of suffering, inadequate care or abandonment.

I think it is a good sign that our Senate was interested in hearing testimony from knowledgeable individuals and groups on this very important issue. 

  • Nina Eckhoff

    If a horse is to be euthanized, it will not take place at a slaughter plant because horse slaughter is NOT HUMANE EUTHANASIA. Euthanasia and slaughter are opposites. Anyone who insists that slaughter is a form of euthanasia either does not know what they are talking about – or they are LYING.

  • Curt Lukens

    As long as slaughter is an EASY option there will be no responsible breeding. If you listen to the whole hearing you would have heard the majority of the people that don’t have a financial stake in the process, give very legitimate reasons to keep the slaughter ban in place. The vast majority of the people there were anti-slaughter

  • Janna Lukens

    You probably ought to have viewed more than just part of the video before writing about this meeting. It’s hard to maintain any journalistic integrity when you only listen to and report one side. There are two sides to this issue – the horse industry vs. the meat industry. One loves horses. The other loves money. You need to listen to the many reasons why the 1949 Texas law should not be repealed and why horse slaughter needs to be banned.

  • Diana B

    Interesting, “euthanasia at a processing facility in a manner designated as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association is an acceptable alternative to a life of suffering, inadequate care or abandonment.”

    Only problem with this statement is that the method used at slaughter is NOT designated as humane by the AVMA. The AVMA clearly states that the head must be restrained and the captive bolt placed carefully and accurately by a skilled operator, to ensure that only one shot is required. The head is not restrained at slaughter, because the horse would fight and break his neck.

    Since horses are naturally head shy, a stranger bring a bolt gun to the head will cause the horse to try to avoid it. It may be possible to calm the horse and get an accurate shot at slaughter, but since this assembly line type activity must process a horse every 2 minutes time is not taken.

    Add to these problems that fact that the job at the kill chute is a high turn-over position, and you can be sure that you get misplaced shots.

    No head restraint…
    No careful, accurate placement…
    No skilled operator…
    No guarantee of a one shot kill…

    AVMA and AAEP need to get their heads out of the sand and admit slaughter is not euthanasia.

  • Barbara Leonard

    Please……slaughtering a horse at a horse slaughter plant is NOT the same as euthanasia. Euthanasia is having a vet put down a horse with an injection. Really have to laugh at pro-slaughter’s usage of “processing” and “humane euthanasia” to describe what a horse goes thru at a slaughter plant. Even more important to Texas should be what they learned from the Kaufman TX horse slaughter plant. I would think that no one except lobbyists who have their pockets lined with special interest money would want to bring horse slaughter back to Texas.

  • Jo-Claire Corcoran

    I watched the entire hearing from start to finish, the author of the above and I must have watched two different hearings. The comments and people present were overwhelmingly against horse slaughter and presented facts regarding medications used in horses, Facts which disputed the claims of unwanted and abandoned horses. Presented facts regarding the history of horse slaughter in this country, the environmental impacts felt by the Texas Communities where the slaughter plants were held. And the most important fact of all, we don’t raise horses in this country for food under food safety guidelines. This is a taxpayer issue, and the majority of this country, 80% to be exact, are opposed to tax payer dollars being spent on the slaughtering of US horses for human consumption.

    Horse slaughter is not about an unwanted horse problem or a bottom dollar on the horse industry, it’s about food production. Any breeder who relies on slaughter to set a price on his horses, is not a good breeder.

    Our world has changed, the demographics of the horse owners has changed, we have less people owning horses than we did 30 years ago. We have an economy that has gone bust. Horse breeders need to pay attention to the most basic of economic principles, supply and demand. Demand is down and has been continually decreasing over the last 30 years…it’s the breeders responsibility to adjust the supply.

    Horse slaughter is not, nor can it ever be humane, because of the inherent differences of horses.

  • Never could understand why the veterinarian associations were pro slaughter. Not only is it against their oath to do no harm but from a monetary standpoint if these folks would let there assn. rise to a higher level in regards to equines perhaps we would have more vets specializing in large animal particularly equine practice. The people who take care of their animals create better paid and more challenging vet practices than a veterinarian who simply can only find a job inspecting meat and poultry carcasses. Horse slaughter increases abuse due to a cruel outlet for overproduction, horse theft and the ability of people to afford something they cannot due to easy disposal.

  • Laurie Neilio

    The article insinuates the support of the majority of Texans on the subject of horse slaughter. It dares to suggest horse slaughter in some way is humane.
    This article misrepresents not only the meeting but the opinions of Texans and the horror and INHUMANITY of horse slaughter.
    There was a time when a reporter took pride in relaying the facts as they were.Honesty and integrity were sought after reputations. Most of you are now no more than commercials for the highest bidder and whores when the truth is at stake.

  • Margo Nielsen

    Apparently the journalist missed some critical parts of the hearing…

    Like when Chairman Estes asked some pro-slaughter experts whether they had any statistics that were newer than 2005…

    Or that there were close to FIFTY anti-slaughter advocates present who had submitted cards indicating their preference, and half of which testified against slaughter…
    There were only TWO pro-slaughter proponents giving testimony.

    And she obviously missed my testimony which speaks to the inherent dishonesty in slaughtering American horses for food. I submit it herewith:

    I have come here to oppose the re-opening of slaughter plants for horses in Texas. As far as the economy is concerned, a live horse is worth far more than a dead horse. When you speak of investment you have to consider the long term outcome and return for your investment.

    When someone produces a foal and spends thousands of dollars just to get that foal to an age of trainability for some sort of job, it only makes sense to maintain that horse in the best condition for the rest of its life so it can continue to function. Even older horses that can no longer be ridden or work can serve as a companion horse. Also consider the thousands that are spent keeping the feed store, tack sellers, farrier and veterinarian in business all those years?

    It doesn’t make sense to put all the effort and money and training on a horse and then go slaughter it for a couple of hundred dollars when it is no longer at the top of its game. Horses have uses for people at every stage of their lives, including when it comes time to put a horse to sleep. The experience teaches the lessons of life and death.

    I have had 12 horses in my possession over the last 15 years. Some I bought, some I rescued. The ones I didn’t keep I found homes for. These horses come to mind when I hear ridiculous phrases like “Unwanted Horses”. There are no unwanted horses. Their owners just haven’t taken much time to market them to the right potential owners. If you were selling a used car you would put out flyers and take an ad in a local publication or the internet, right? So why don’t people do that with horses? They could probably get a lot more money by doing that than dropping it off at the livestock auction.

    What kind of Business Model is it to take what someone would consider discards, that is throwaway horses, and try to market them as a delicacy? Even worse are all the young healthy horses off the track and from performance disciplines that are loaded up daily and directly onto the kill buyers truck, without even a finger lifted to try sell or market them for another use. They might be considered even more of a delicacy except for the substances they have ingested which are banned from meat for human consumption.

    Horse slaughter is a sham!
    It is not an industry or a business.
    It is ALCHEMY!
    It is a slight of hand con game that works until people find out what is really going on. If you need to find an example of a similar industry which tried to pass off waste as a valuable protein disguised in other foods, just ask the people who produce PINK SLIME.

    Or they USED TO produce it.
    They are out of business now, and for good reason! ~

  • Dear Ms. Rowe,
    I was one of those advocates sitting patiently in the room waiting to give my testimony. You missed it and I truly resent that you base your opinion solely on the testimony of the lobbyists that were invited there to speak. That is not journalism. If you had watched the entire hearing, you would have heard me testify to the adverse effect that a horse slaughter plant has on the property values in the area in which it exists. Based on my Experience selling real estate in Kaufman County, Texas, I can assure that the closing of the Horse Slaughter in Kaufman, Texas had a hugely positive effect on property values all around that area. My report was detailed and personal. You also missed Angela Sotelo, active duty US Air Force, and Professional Equine Abuse Investigator, testify that the closing of Horse Slaughter did not result in more cases of abuse or abandonment. She still has not seen horses abandoned at alarming rates, and blames the economy for increased neglect. There were so many great testimonies that showed the huge costs that are associated with Horse Slaughter Plants to the American Taxpayer, and little or no economic gain. These foreign owned companies do not pay taxes, but they do tax the infrastructure of the communities in which they operate. The profits are always seen on the foreign side of the operation where the horse meat is sold/eaten. Look into the chemicals in horse meat, the impending rules to be placed on horses raised for meat to be imported into Europe. Hear the testimony about killer buyers who outbid Rescuers who are trying to buy horses for good homes or therapy uses.
    There is just so much in that hearing that you did not hear, let alone include in your report. Seems like the only ones that got a mention were the ones with skin in the game. That is the horses’ skin and blood and bones which led to a profit margin for a few such as the AQHA.
    Please take the time to watch the entire proceedings and then rewrite this for the 75% of Texans who oppose horse slaughter.
    Thanks for your time,
    Sincerely yours,
    Paula Denmon

  • T.W. Youngs

    I find it funny that our nation has been so displaced from the farm/ranch that this is even a debateable issue. I personally have very strong and yet mixed feelings about the sluaghter of a horse. As an individual that has spent most my life working with, careing for, and in one period of my life earning a good living from the horse industry, I honestly can’t find a more viable solution.
    If we were to break it down to its bare elements and call it what it is, maybe that would make it more palatable for folks to take. Its POPULATION CONTROL. And is a necessary evil. Not to mention if the sluaghter is brought back to Texas, Horse theft Control as well.
    In our current state of affairs, if your horse is stolen and is sold for sluaghter, once it crosses into Mexico, its gone for ever.
    Nothing in this world breaks my heart more than to see a horse sold for sluaghter, but to watch them suffer endlessly and needlessly because the owner/owners either refuse or can’t take proper care of them is a great sin and heartbreak.
    I leave with this thought and and prayer,is that there will be some day a way to take good care of unwanted animals, and I pray every night that this solution comes soon, but for now, the only economical solution is the sluaghter plants