January 12, 2010
Viebrock backs bill for horse slaughterhouses
Bill aims to bypass ban on horse meat inspections.
A Greene County lawmaker wants to make the slaughtering of horses for human consumption legal in Missouri.
But state Rep. Jim Viebrock has a lot of hurdles to clear.
Viebrock, R-Republic, intends to file legislation this week aimed at bypassing a federal ban on meat inspectors working in horse slaughtering plants by getting processors to pay for the inspections.
In September 2006, Congress barred any federal funds from being spent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on inspecting the nation's three remaining horse slaughtering plants in Illinois and Texas -- effectively putting them out of business.
But Congress did not out-right ban the slaughter of horses and shipping the meat overseas to markets in Europe and Asia, where the meat is a delicacy.
Viebrock said the proposed legislation would create state-level USDA inspectors by allowing the Missouri Department of Agriculture to levy inspection fees on slaughterhouses. The state's Department of Agriculture would pass those fees onto USDA, requiring no federal funds, he said.
Many states are struggling to deal with the large influx of unwanted horses due to an extremely depressed horse market. This is largely blamed on the closing of domestic harvesting facilities. While they can still be shipped to Canada or Mexico, the cost of transporting them that far and virtually eliminated any salvage value. So for owners who can no longer care for their horses, their options are extremely limited. This is ends up costing state and local governments money when they have to assume the care. Several states are investigating how they help solve the problem and most of the answers continue to look at how domestic processing of horses can be resumed. Not only would that add value back into the horse market, but it would also reduce the suffering that these unwanted horses are now being forced to endure.