Billings, Mont. - R-CALF USA joined with other groups and individuals to counter the Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS') efforts to block the humane slaughter of unwanted and unusable horses at a New Mexico slaughtering facility.
Led by the International Equine Business Association (IEBA), R-CALF USA, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA), 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 Meat alleges that USDA is wrongfully refusing to provide final inspection services for horse slaughter at Valley Meat's New Mexico facility now that Congress has fully restored funding for horse slaughter inspection.
The HSUS previously filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit as well as a motion to dismiss in its effort to block horse slaughter in the United States. The HSUS also is seeking to require that 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 devastating impacts to the entire meat industry, including the cattle industry.
An affidavit filed by R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard in support of his group's intervention explains that even though horse slaughter was temporarily suspended in the United States, domestic horses continue to be slaughtered in foreign countries. He stated that these horses are being transported over extremely long distances and then slaughtered in Mexican slaughtering plants that do not follow the humane slaughtering practices required by the USDA.
"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," Bullard stated.
R-CALF USA and the other groups seeking intervention believe that because Valley Meat would be subject to United States' humane slaughtering standards, the inhumane treatment of U.S. horses in foreign slaughtering plants would be alleviated.
"We are deeply disappointed that the Humane Society of the United States is trying to perpetuate the inhumane and undignified treatment of unwanted and unusable U.S. 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," said Bullard adding, "We hope our intervention will counter the Humane Society's despicable position."