Sunday, March 8, 2009

The "Unintended Consequences" Pro-Slaughter Argument Again: From a FARM BUREAU Representative (of course!)

Are we sick of this argument yet? Have we Not dispelled all of these myths already? Dont these people need to do their homework? Or are they intentionally trying to decieve the public? The Pro-slaughter article below was, of course, written by a meatman:

Unintended consequences: The downside of banning horse slaughter
By David Treece

In May 2007, under increased pressure from animal activist groups, the Illinois Horse Meat Act was amended to make horse slaughter illegal if there was reason to believe any of the meat would be used for human consumption.

This well-intended but misguided legislation had unintended consquences for unwanted horses.

Prior to the closure of all U.S. horse slaughterhouses, some 60,000 horses were moving through USDA-regulated and inspected processing facilities each year.

Today, horses are still being harvested, but not in the U.S. Mexico still continues to buy American horses. The animals endure long periods of travel. In some cases, they are subjected to a painful and stressful method of "harvesting." At least one Mexican plant uses a system called puntilla, which renders an animal paralyzed by stabbing it in the neck to sever its spine. In some cases, according to documents filed with the U.S. Library of Congress, it takes several tries before a horse succumbs. Animal welfare experts agree this is the absolute worst way to kill an animal.

Banning horse slaughter in the U.S. is a classic case of emotion trumping science and reality. The reality of the situation is this: Now that the practice of harvesting horses in the U.S. has ended, has the welfare of horses actually improved?

The Illinois Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Welfare maintains a record of all animal welfare complaints that deal with livestock and horses. The number of complaints relating to horses has dramatically increased over the past two years since the slaughter ban was approved.

It is not uncommon for a horse to live 30 or more years. As a horse gets older, it often experiences a degeneration in muscle mass, lack of activity and severe weight loss. Horse owners frequently express concern over what to do with unwanted horses.

Activists say the easy solution is to adopt any unwanted horse. While this sounds "warm-and-fuzzy," in reality, it is not a viable alternative. Some horses are incorrigible, mean-spirited, or simply dangerous. If all unwanted horses could be adopted, an additional 2,700 facilities per year would be needed.

Horses are not the only animals adversely impacted by "well-intended" regulations. Last November, the California ballot initiative on farm animal housing was passed by a large margin. The initiative, listed as Proposition 2, or "Prop 2," closes down the California egg industry -- affecting 95 percent of the state's egg production. The unintended consequence is that California consumers will be forced to buy eggs from other states and from Mexico.

Passage of this proposition could also cause health problems in the animals the law tries to protect. Chickens kept in litter-based housing systems, including free-range chickens, are more prone to disease than chickens that are kept in cages, according to a study published in the Jan. 15 "Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica." In 1988, Sweden passed the Swedish Animal Welfare Act that mandated a switch from battery cages for laying hens to alternative types of housing -- including free-range and indoor litter-based systems -- that were designed to allow "natural" behaviors to be expressed. Subsequently, between 2001 and 2004, there was a large increase in the number of flocks being kept in alternative housing systems. Researchers noted that during the switch in housing, there was an increase in the number of chickens that were dying.

Some people may be "well-intended" but not "well-informed" when it comes to livestock legislation. Because of this lack of understanding, the Illinois Farm Bureau will continue to monitor all proposals that might cause unintended consequences to the well-being of livestock.

David Treece is the manager of the Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau. He can be reached at (815) 265-4712.

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