Last Month, Congress lifted a ban on inspection of horse meat for human consumption. Lifting that ban has opened an opportunity for Missouri horse ranchers and renewed an on-going debate about treatment of horses. This issue is not horse meat in general. Rather, it's meat for human consumption. While not popular in the US, it is in other countries. KMOX Tong Gao goes to a quater center in central Missouri and tells us what does this law mean to horse owners.
When a horse gets old, sick or bad tempered, what would you do?
That's an issue faced by equine specialist Jim Dudley every year.
He has been a part of the horse industry for 60 years, from breeding, to trading, to training horses.
He owns 50 horses and on average has to get rid of 5 horses every year.
|Description: "Some of them, stud and old horses, they are difficult to be around. And we need a place to dispose the horses."|
Before the year of 2006, Dudley disposed of his horses by selling them to an auction and got about 1000 dollars for each horse.
But now it costs 5000 dollars.
After Congress put a ban on funding horse meat inspections in 2006, all the slaughter houses in U.S. went out of business, and the value of horses has declined significantly.
In Missouri, a state with the third largest horse population, Dudley found himself not alone in favor of lifting the ban.
The Missouri Farm Bureau director Kelly Smith says lifting the ban is a victory of many horse owners to get rid of the ban of horse slaughter.
|Description: “It’s been a controversial issue through the years, even with the horse owners. But yes, I think a majority, vast majority of horse owners are applauding the passing of the particular bill.”|
According to a 2010 survey, there are 200,000 horses in Missouri.
Smith says the horse industry is important to the state's economy.
|Description: "When horse slaughter was enacted, the ban on horse slaughter in 2006. We took a baffling vibrate industry and we basically shut it down."|
Now that the ban has been lifted, Smith says the slaughter houses would reopen soon and benefit the horse industry.
Missouri Equine Council President Shelia Short says providing an outlet for unwanted horses not only benefits horse owners, but also saves horses from terminal and painful conditions.
|Description: "We have a big problem with the horses being abandoned, not being cared for, starving to death."|
As a horse owner, Dudley agrees that it would add to the amount of money people have to invest in the horses.
|Description: "They’ll be more willing to feed them, to a condition that enhances their value."|
While some animal right activists are opposed to horse slaughter because it's inhumane, one animal rights group PETA, has become an unexpected supporter.
Director Lindsay Rajt says PETA doesn't want horse slaughterers in the U.S.
However, they are in favor of lifting the ban because they found people did not euthanize horses after the ban in 2006.
|Description: "Instead, they were just taking them down to auctions, and then having these horses shift to Canada or Mexico, where they will still be slaughtered."|
The USDA refused to talk to me. But a spokesman noted in a prepared statement that “if a facility opens, the Food Safety and Inspection Service will be prepared to carry out its statutory mandate to ensure industry compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act."
Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Tong Gao.