Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TN Pro-Horse Slaughter Bill Passes in Committee

TN state Rep. Frank Niceley's pro-horse slaughter bill, very similar to the MT bill, has passed one committee and is now in another. It could be voted on at any time.


TN Rep. Niceley's Horse Slaughter Bill Passes Committee
Posted Apr 29, 2009 by lauraallen

Horse Slaughter

Update May 16: The pro-horse slaughter bill, H.B. 1428 (S.B. 1898 in the Tennessee Senate) passed the Agriculture Committee by a voice vote with only Rep. John M. Windle recording a no vote.

The bill now goes to the Government Operations Committee whose members can be found here.

Write and then call each member and urge them to vote NO on H.B. 1428. Go here to find Tennessee legislators including your own if you live in the state and write and then call and urge them to vote to H.B. 1428/S.B. 1898.

Email Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen phil.bredesen@state.tn.us and tell him you oppose horse slaughter and H.B. 1428/S.B. 1898. Send him a link to this article.

Don't let this bill pass. Horse slaughter houses don't bring revenue or jobs. Instead, they bring horrific odors of dying and dead horses, blood literally running down the streets and clogging drains, illegally dumped or discharged waste, burdens on wastewater treatment and sewage systems, financial loss, and terrible animal cruelty. It is simply a waste of taxpayer dollars for a state agency to spend time issuing rules and making concessions for this sleazy practice as contemplated by this bill particularly when it is not even legal. It is akin to supporting dog fighting rings. Go here for more about the effect of horse slaughter houses on communities.

For more on this bill as well as talking points when you contact Tennessee legsilators, read Animal Law Coalition's original report below.

Original report: Tennessee state Rep. Frank S. Niceley has offered an amendment to H.B. 1428 that would attempt to pave the way for the construction of a horse slaughter house in the state. The bill as originally proposed has nothing to do with horse slaughter.

The House Agriculture Committee has adopted the amendment to H.B. 1428.

Rep. Niceley's plan is that a foreign-owned company would build the horse slaughter house in Tennessee and ship horsemeat overseas where it is consumed as a delicacy in some countries. He claims the bill is modeled after the one in Montana passed by that state's legislature and which Gov. Brian Schweitzer may veto.

H.B. 1428 as amended states:

The general assembly finds and declares that issues related to the ...slaughter of surplus domestic horses are best addressed by proper state regulations and inspection and not by banning the humane slaughter of surplus domestic horses at the federal level or by exporting such horses to foreign countries for slaughter. The general assembly recognizes the necessity and benefit of Tennessee's ability to direct the transport and processing of this state's surplus domestic horses....

[T]he general assembly intends to encourage the location of equine slaughter and processing facilities in Tennessee".

The bill as amended would establish a program for the "licensure, licensure renewal, permitting, inspection, and regulation of equine slaughter and processing facilities in Tennessee."

The bill would require fees to fund the program and also a pay as you go inspection system.

Anyone who challenges the issuance of a license or permit for a horse slaughter facility, would be required to pay a bond set at "an amount representing twenty percent (20%) of the estimated cost of building the facility or the operational costs of an existing facility." Any such action could only be brought in the county where the facility was being built.

If a court determines that an action challenging a license or permit for a horse slaughter facility was "without merit or was for an improper purpose designed to harass, cause delay, or improperly interfere with the ongoing operation of such facility", the court could award attorney fees and costs incurred in defending the action. Anyone who loses such a lawsuit, would be liable "for all financial losses the facility suffers if the court issues an injunction that halts operations while the action is pending".

The Commissioner of Agriculture would be required to issue rules and regulations to implement this bill if it becomes law.

It is not clear why Tennessee would limit access of its citizens to the courts in favor of foreign interests attempting to bring the seedy horse slaughter racket to the state. Rep. Niceley may not be aware there is unlikely to be any tax revenue from horse slaughter to benefit the state or local communities. Dallas Crown, for example, a foreign owned slaughter house that operated in Texas until it was shut down in 2007, paid $5.00 in taxes on $12 million in sales in one year, a typical amount. Go here for more on financial burdens that horse slaughter houses impose on states and communities.

Also, Rep. Niceley does not mention that the slaughter of horses for human consumption remains illegal in the U.S. The last 3 slaughter houses in the U.S. were shut down in 2007 as a result of Congressional action, state legislation and federal court decisions.

American horses are still sent for slaughter, however, usually to Mexico or Canada. A federal bill, the Conyers Burton Equine Prevention of Cruelty Act of 2009, H.R. 503/S.B. 727, would make it illegal to "possess..., ship..., transport..., purchase.., sell... deliver..., or receive" in interstate or foreign commerce any horse "with the intent that it is to be slaughtered for human consumption". It would also be illegal under this bill to trade in horse flesh or carcass for the purpose of human consumption.

Indeed, Rep. Niceley's bill is the latest in a series of resolutions and bills that pro horse slaughterers have filed in state legislatures this year as ploys to defeat H.R. 503/S.B. 727.

They also hope to create a market for horsemeat in the U.S. They want Americans to get used to the idea of eating their horses, their friends and companions. If Americans begin eating horsemeat, the theory is that Congress will be forced to fund ante-mortem inspections. Horse slaughter for human consumption is not legal in the U.S. currently because these required inspections are not funded. For more on this..... .

Rep. Niceley claims this bill would address the "problem" of unwanted horses. This is disingenuous. Horse slaughter is not a means of controlling numbers of "unwanted horses". This is a myth perpetuated by the horse slaughter industry that is simply intentionally repeated over and over again though proponents know it has no basis in fact.

Horse slaughter is a for profit practice, reaping millions for foreign investors each year. It is driven solely by a demand for horse meat, not unwanted horses, whatever that means. If everyone stopped eating horsemeat tomorrow, there would be no more horse slaughter, regardless of the number of unwanted horses.

Kill buyers buy horses at auction for slaughter, and the USDA has said over 92% of American horses slaughtered, are healthy, not old, sick, injured, or neglected. These horses were not unwanted; they were simply sold at auction, and their owners had no control over who purchased them. Without the kill buyers who skulk around horse auctions, looking for the best potential horse meat, most of these horses would be purchased by others or end up in rescues or sanctuaries.

A study released last year showed a decrease in horse abuse and neglect cases following closure of the last U.S. horse slaughter house in 2007. Any abandoned or neglected horses are not a result of a lack of horse slaughter houses.

Historically, there have not been increases in abandoned, neglected or abused horses following closures of horse slaughter houses. In 2002 the Illinois slaughter house burned to the ground and was out of commission for some time. Reports of abandoned, abused and neglected horses in the Illinois area were actually on the rise in the 2 years before the fire but decreased afterwards.

Remember the number of horses slaughtered in the U.S. dropped significantly from over 300,000 annually in the 1990s to 66,000 in 2004. There was no notable increase during that time of abandoned, abused or neglected horses.

When California banned horse slaughter in 1998, there was no rise in cases of cruelty or neglect to horses. In fact, there was a 39.4% decrease initially and that rose to 88% eventually in horse thefts. (What does that tell you about this "business"?)

Also, from 2004-2007 5000 horses were imported into the U.S. for slaughter. If horse slaughter occurs because of all the unwanted horses, why would these horse slaughter businesses need to import them? The answer is, of course, they wouldn't.

Horse slaughter has nothing to do with controlling numbers of unwanted horses. It is a business driven by a demand for horse meat primarily as a delicacy in foreign countries.

As John Holland, a free lance writer and researcher on horse slaughter and consultant for Americans Against Horse Slaughter and founder of Equine Welfare Alliance, has explained, "Kill buyers do not go around the country like dog catchers gathering 'unwanted horses' as a public service."

Rep. Niceley has also proposed a bill, H.B. 1361, that would amend state law to allow the packaging and sale of horsemeat without complying with the usual labeling and packaging requirements. This bill is in the House Agriculture Committee. Contact Committee members and also Tennessee legislators including your own if you live there. Urge committee members and other legislators including your own if you live in Tennessee, to vote NO on H.B. 1361.

Horsemeat is not packaged or sold in the state. This is simply another ploy to try to defeat the federal bill, H.R. 503/S.B. 727.


Anonymous said...

Where do you get your FACTS? this is a a typical well intended from the heart argument based fully on feelings. I am a horse owner and lover but also know that horses are livestock. Humans in other parts of the world eat horses and have consistently, even those highly dependent on the horse for transportation and companionship.

Well regulated horse slaughter would be no worse than cattle slaughter or other slaughter facilities. NO blood running down the streets or other nightmare on elm street scenarios.

If you are against eating meet don't. Others like meat. Where horse is eaten they do not want your old sick and scrawny horses any more than an american would want old sick scrawny cow meet. Horse is not a delicacy in europe it is just food.

There is no danger in you losing your horse to a killer bidder at auction-every person who runs a horse through an auction can no sale a horse. i have never allowed a horse to go to someone i didn't want it to go to, whether at auction or though private sale.

Regardless of your "facts" abandonment is on the rise. the causes are complex, among them the fact that the market is now glutted and a horse is more affordable than a dog. The difference is that average americans do not know a thing about horses so it is akin to bringing home a leopard. The first time buyer goes to an auction and gets "flicka" for fifty dollars only to find out that flicka is the nightmare on elm street.

Th slaughter ban has been good in that it is a wake up call to those who would breed poorly conformed and ill tempered animals in HOPES of a winner. That has been demonstrated now it is time to open government regulated well designed humane slaughter houses.

Anonymous said...

Has this bill passed? Does anyone know?