US livestock bodies intervene in horse slaughter lawsuit

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Horse slaughter Livestock

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) has joined a campaign by several other US organisations to combat the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) plans to block the slaughter of unwanted and unusable horses at a New Mexico slaughtering facility.

A lawsuit, initially filed by the company Valley Meat against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleged the USDA was “wrongfully refusing to provide final inspection services for horse slaughter”​ at Valley Meat’s facility in New Mexico. Subsequent to this, HSUS filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, “as well as a motion to dismiss in its effort to block horse slaughter in the US”, said R-CALF.

“The HSUS is also seeking to require that the USDA conduct an environmental assessment and/or an environmental impact statement for each decision to grant slaughter inspection – a requirement R-CALF USA and the other potential interveners believe would result in a devastating impact to the entire meat industry, including the cattle industry,”​ the organisation added.

As a result,R-CALF is adding its support to other groups, led by the International Equine Business Association (IEBA), the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA), the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA), and several individuals, who have all filed a motion to intervene in the same lawsuit. The groups believe that because Valley Meat would be subject to the US’ humane slaughtering standards, this would alleviate the inhumane treatment of US horses in foreign slaughtering plants.  

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard has filed a written and sworn statement of fact in support of his group’s intervention and he explained that, even though horse slaughter was temporarily suspended in the US, domestic horses continued to be slaughtered in other countries. Bullard added that those horses were being transported over “extremely long distances”​ before being slaughtered in Mexican slaughterhouses, which do not follow the humane slaughter practices required by the USDA.

Bullard said: “R-CALF USA has members who have ceased marketing their unusable horses to Mexican horse slaughter buyers, due to concerns that their horses would be subjected to undue stress during transit to foreign horse slaughter plants and then suffer inhumane slaughtering techniques once they arrive at foreign slaughtering plants.”

He added: “We are deeply disappointed that HSUS is trying to perpetuate the inhumane and undignified treatment of unwanted and unusable US horses that are being regularly shipped to foreign countries for slaughter or are being abandoned on private and federally controlled lands, where they literally waste away and die a miserable death. We hope our intervention will counter the Humane Society’s despicable position.”

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