S.D. Stockgrowers join effort to support humane horse slaughter

Farm Forum

South Dakota Stockgrowers Association joined this week with other groups and individuals in a joint effort to counter the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) efforts to stop the humane slaughter of unwanted and unusable horses at a New Mexico slaughtering facility. Led by the International Equine Business Association (IEBA), the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA) joined R-CALF USA, the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA), and several individuals filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit initially filed by Valley Meat, LLC (Valley Meat), against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Valley Meats’ facility has met all of USDA’s regulatory requirements to begin operations at its New Mexico facility and should be granted USDA’s inspection services under federal law,” said Shane Kolb, President of S.D. Stockgrowers. “HSUS’s attempt to require further permitting and environmental assessments is accomplishing nothing other than the continued inhumane treatment of these unwanted horses as they are being shipped to other countries for slaughter in facilities that do not meet our standards for safety or humane treatment.”

The last U.S. equine slaughter facility closed its doors in 2007 after Congress banned USDA from funding the federally required inspectors at the facilities. Funding was restored and Valley Meats in Roswell, NM has been trying to open its facilities ever since. In its original suit, Valley Meat alleges that USDA is refusing to provide final inspection services for horse slaughter. The HSUS intervened in the lawsuit and made a motion to dismiss the entire suit in an attempt to block all horse slaughter in the United States.

S.D. Stockgrowers filed as an intervener in the suit this week, and in an affidavit filed with the court, argued that a continued ban on equine slaughter in the United States will lead to more inhumane treatment of unusable and unwanted horses that are currently being transported long distances to Canada and Mexico, are creating a burden for producers as those animals have no market value, and are increasingly dying, starving, or being abandoned at taxpayer expense.

“Stockgrowers is very disappointed that HSUS is willing to block the humane slaughter of horses while these unwanted animals continue to suffer during long hauls to other countries or even die abandoned and hungry on our private and federal lands,” said Kolb. “We are proud to be a part of this lawsuit that supports the humane and dignified treatment of horses.”