☛ Horse Slaughter – Fact & Fiction 7-23-15
Horse Abuse, Part 7
Horse Slaughter – Facts and Fiction
From A Risk Analyst’s View Point
By Rick Dennis
July 23, 2015
Horses packed into pens pending slaughter.
As a federal- and state-trained criminal investigator serving 16 years in Drug Enforcement, I was trained to deal with facts – just the facts. I was also taught to ignore hypothetical, suppositional, non-relevant, incomplete, alleged or unproven facts in a case. Therefore, I adhere to a black-and-white principle. It either is or it isn’t. Before a case can be successfully prosecuted, it must contain well-documented relevant facts and supporting documentation specific to the crime committed and nothing more. Since 1984, I’ve entwined my law enforcement training with my private security entrepreneurship to identify, enhance and resolve corporate security risks specific to a particular target, as well as adding complementary features to an existing risk management program.
An existing dichotomy in the American horse industry requiring scrutiny and analyzation is Horse Slaughter. As I previously stated in Horse Abuse, Part 6: Horse Slaughter, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, “Ever since the introduction of the SAFE Act Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 1214) was introduced in the U.S. Senate in April 2015, advocates on both sides of the aisle have been organizing in opposition of the bill, as well as promoting its passage.”
TOP-TIER-RANKED HORSE SLAUGHTER ADVOCATES:
The three top-tier-ranked horse slaughter advocates are:
- The American Quarter Horse Association.
- Protect The Harvest.
- Veterinary Advocacy Groups.
The American Quarter Horse Association promotes lobbying efforts through their political action arm – the AQHPAC. Protect The Harvest, founded by Forrest Lucas, promotes his lobbying efforts through his own entity. Veterinary Advocacy Groups promote their lobbying efforts individually. To enlighten the reader, I’ve chosen to conduct a random sample analysis of the ideologies of two top-tier horse slaughter advocacy groups due in part to their expanded vocalization of their specific opinions in this matter: e.g. feral or wild horses, performance horses, their advertised agendas for promoting slaughter as well as the necessity of limiting the length of this article for the reader. It’s impossible to include an analysis of each and every advocacy group’s view point.
RISK ANALYSIS – AQHPAC:
As stated above AQHA uses the “AQHPAC,” its political action group, to perform its lobbying efforts. However, until recently this group’s purpose was not completely revealed to the general public or its general membership. On July 3, 2015, the current AQHA Executive Vice President Mr. Craig Huffhines, disseminated a letter to the AQHA directors, via AQHA’s 440 publication, openly supporting horse slaughter. Another AQHA document entitled “AQHA Position Statement on Legislation Concerning Horse Processing” furthers AQHA’s position on horse slaughter with a series of supporting statements.
The irony of AQHA’s manifesto is detailed in its ambivalence. AQHA’s first paragraph states; “First and foremost, the American Quarter Horse Association unequivocally supports the humane treatment of horses and vigorous enforcement of reasonable state and federal laws intended for that purpose.” AQHA’s last paragraph states; “ Therefore, AQHA continues to oppose the provisions of state or federal legislation intended to: (a) prohibit the humane end-of-life processing of horses and (b) prohibit the humane transport of horses that may be destined to processing plants.”
Another paragraph requiring explanation to promote and defend AQHA’s horse slaughter position is found in the second to last paragraph which states; “Additionally, horses as livestock are personal property protected under the United States Constitution. Any law that would result in “taking” of personal property without just compensation or valid purpose is a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. Furthermore, it is a violation of the Commerce Clause to unreasonably restrict interstate trade of property.”
For the record, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution specifically states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.“ The irony in
AQHA’s second to last paragraph is certainly hard to understand and interpret due to its convoluted meaning and intent. Our nation is a nation of laws, deeply rooted in the Constitution and Bill of Rights by our founding fathers. Due process keeps us safe from unreasonable searches and seizures therefore I have no idea who or what AQHA is protecting horse owners from.
However, pursuant to reading and analyzing three of AQHA’s supporting documents promoting horse slaughter i.e., AQHPAC Mission Statement, Mr. Huffhines July 3, 2015 440 transmittal, as well as the document herein above, I determined the last two documents only provided affirmation of AQHA’s position supporting horse slaughter as a means of controlling horse populations. Further, the documents didn’t provide any viable alternatives to assist in the overpopulation, starving or unwanted horse dilemma, other than horse slaughter.
Previously, I’ve contacted AQHA and proffered a myriad of common-sense alternatives to caring for unwanted and starving horses until a “Task-Force Study” can be conducted to explore any and/or all alternatives to caring for unwanted horses to include, but not limited to, a root-cause analysis of contributors manifesting the problem, emergency measures taken to institute stop-gap measures in the interim to care for horses in crisis, as well as a solution to eliminate future possibilities of reoccurrence.
Another interesting irony of AQHA’s transmittals is the non-admission or disclosure of its own contributing factors supporting the over population of horses including unorthodox breeding practices (Multiple Embryo Transfer). Still another non-existent fact is a disclosure of the risks the consumer is subjected to, by eating horse meat from the U.S. performance horse industry due to drug contamination such as phenylbutazone, also known as (bute), etc. In my opinion, there are far to many horses in the performance horse and racing industry to support the numbers being produced. One mitigating factor is a downturn in the industry driving a loss of participants and horse owners, thus promoting slaughter as a control measure to justify producing more, annually.
Click for AQHPAC Advocacy statement>>
Click for Huffhines letter on horse slaughter>>
Click for AQHA Position on equine processing>>
RISK ANALYSIS – PROTECT THE HARVEST:
On the Protect The Harvest website, it states, “Forrest Lucas is the Founder and Chair of Lucas Oil and Protect the Harvest, a group he started in 2011 to assist in the fight for the rights of America’s farmers, ranchers, animal owners and sportsmen/sportswomen. The bio further states Mr. Lucas is a resident of the state of Indiana. Born and raised in Ramsey, Indiana as the oldest of four, he comes from humble beginnings. In his teens, Forrest went to work on a cattle farm in Harrison County, Indiana, to support his family.
In the menu section of Protect The Harvest website is an article entitled “Horses In Crisis,” that states in the first paragraph, “American wild horses are in peril due to overcrowding, which has led to starvation and death. We have the opportunity and the obligation to protect them from long and painful suffering by controlling their numbers. Radical animal groups would have you believe that these horses are thriving in the wild and that they should be left untouched. The sad truth is that there are far too many of them, and having no natural predators, their numbers have outpaced the food available to them.”
There’s a short film attached to this segment, made up primarily of ranchers and one veterinarian promoting humane end-of-life options – slaughter – as a viable means of promoting horse slaughter to control wild-mustang populations. The film has been orchestrated to depict a dismal existence of the feral or wild horse and suggests this option is necessary to bring their numbers back in balance with nature but fails to provide the true factors contributing to the overpopulation tragedy that positions the wild horse in this dismal existence.
In analyzing Protect The Harvest’s presentation, I found it lacking in a number of legitimate facts: 1) The root-cause analysis of the contributory factors establishing the overpopulation of wild horses in a specific geographical area of the U.S., such as beef production by ranchers encroaching on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or public lands forcing the existing wildlife to compete for necessary forage to sustain existence, etc., 2) horses and wild burros being restricted to certain areas of a geographical location in order to promote and enhance cattle production and 3) their statement, “The sad truth is that there are far too many of them and having no natural predators, their numbers have outpaced the food available to them.”
With all due respect to Mr. Lucas as well as clarification, I would like to inform Protect The Harvest that herbivores like horses living on public lands definitely have natural predators such as mountain lions, bears, wolves, bob cats, coyotes and wolverines. In fact, anything that walks, crawls, swims in water, runs on four legs or flies in a natural wild forest setting is eligible prey to a carnivore. As an avid outdoorsman and avid hunter, hunting in the West for 18 years, I’ve personally witnessed a bear, mountain lion and wolves taking down horses in the wild. The only time this factor is removed from the equation is when carnivores are removed from a specific area due to lobbying by cattlemen or other lobbying groups. Predators generally take old, sick or crippled animals, or foals of a specific class to bring the herbivore groups in balance.
Click for Protect The Harvest website>>
Click for Borba vs BLM video>>
BALANCE OF NATURE:
The balance of nature is a theory that proposes that ecological systems are usually in a stable equilibrium (homeostasis), which is to say that a small change in some particular parameter (for example, the size of a particular population) will be corrected by some negative feedback that will bring the parameter back to its original “point of balance” with the rest of the system. It may apply where populations depend on each other, for example in predator/prey systems, or relationships between herbivores and their food source. It is also sometimes applied to the relationship between the Earth’s ecosystem, the composition of the atmosphere and the world’s weather.
First and foremost, neither ideology herein above addresses a myriad of causes addressing each issue on an apple-and-orange relationship nor do they offer a specific alternative to rectify the problem, other than horse slaughter. However, each organization directly appeals to the plight of the horse from an emotional factor in order to sway public opinion to support their biased position on horse slaughter as a means to control horse populations.
ECONOMIC FACTS OF PUBLIC LANDS GRAZING:
- Public lands grazers are a minority of livestock producers in the West and throughout the country.
- Number of livestock producers with federal grazing permits: 27,000.
- Percentage of livestock producers with federal grazing permits in the United States: 3%.
- Percentage of livestock producers with federal grazing permits in eleven Western states: 22%.
- Number of livestock producers without federal grazing permits: 880,000.
An article published by The Daily Pitchfork entitled “Sustainable Cowboys or Welfare Ranchers of the American West,” contains many more interesting statistics, including the fact that 21,000 ranchers who graze their livestock on Western rangelands are estimated to have cost the taxpayers $500 million in 2014 – and every year for the past decade and that a large number of them are millionaires, billionaires and multi-billion-dollar corporations.
The fee that livestock operators paid a month for an AUM (animal unit month) in 2014 was $1.35 – the lowest price that can legally be charged. The market price to graze on private land is $21.60. Fees set by other federal agencies and individual states on public property are also significantly higher. The majority of this money is spent on range rehabilitation, leaving only approximately $7.9 million going into the Treasury.
It also costs the BLM over $80 million a year to kill predators, that’s $380 per rancher and 10 times that much ($3,809) to get rid of wild horses and burros – with most of them going to slaughter. In the end, special interest welfare (money going to ranchers, EPA, USDA, Dept of Justice and US Army Corp of Engineers) is estimated between $500 million and $1 billion a year.
In 2014, BLM and USFS permit holders paid an estimated $18.5 million in fees to graze 1.14 million livestock units on the 229 million acres of federal land used for grazing. But only a fraction (between 1/3 and ¼) of that actually went into the Treasury. In other words, 2/3 to ¾ of the low fees ranchers pay go back into their pockets. Public land ranchers were paid $376 for what cost taxpayers $6,838 last year.
Click for Daily Pitchfork article>>
FEDERAL GRAZING COSTS VERSUS STATE COSTS:
- Subsidized by taxpayers, public lands grazers pay far less than market value for federal forage and grazing fees on comparable state and private lands. Fee to graze one cow and calf for one month (AUM) on federal public lands (2003): $1.43.
- Average fee per AUM on state lands in the West (excluding Texas) (1998): $12.30.
- Average fee per AUM on private lands in eleven Western states (1999): $11.10.
- The forage provided, and the beef produced from federal public lands is insignificant. Percentage of total feed for livestock (cattle and sheep) in the United States supplied from federal lands: 2%.
- Percentage of American beef produced from federal rangelands: less than 3 percent.
ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC IMPACT:
- Alternative uses of federal public lands contribute much more income to local and regional economies than livestock grazing. In the Central Winter Ecosystem Management Area in the Kaibab Plateau, Arizona, dispersed recreation is worth $200,000 annually to the local and regional economies; fuel wood is worth $48,984; livestock grazing is worth $45,988; and deer and turkey hunting is worth $1,324,259.
- October 2004: for the first time in the history of the agency, the Bureau of Land Management collected more revenue in recreational fees than annual grazing fees. This despite the fact that recreational fees are often collected through voluntary pay stations, while grazing fees are mandatory and enforced, and BLM does not charge fees for many recreational offerings on BLM lands.
Click for more information>>
LIMITED FOOD AND WATER SOURCES:
- From this public land-use study, it’s clear that ranchers using public land for cattle production is, percentage wise, paltry in respect to the over-all beef producers in the U.S. However, the introduction of a non-indigenous species, i.e., cattle on public grazing lands wrecks havoc on the existing wild populous, thereby significantly reducing or limiting access to sustainable life sources such as water and forage.
- For example, indigenous wildlife species such as: elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, moose, antelope, sheep, goats, wild burros and horses require expanded ranges to sustainable life sources in order to exist. Equally, weather conditions play a significant role in animal survival. We see this in nature as winter and summer feeding grounds. Wild animals migrate to specific geographical feeding locations when sustainable life sources are either depleted in an area or predicated by seasonal changes.
- Proponents of horse slaughter assert horsemeat is safe to eat. However, according to the Veterinarians For Equine Welfare Fact Sheet, “Medications and US Horsemeat,” states a very different viewpoint. Equally, articles entitled “Defendants Sentenced in UK Horse Meat Scandal” and “Dutch Court Sends Meat Trader to Jail in European Horse Meat Scandal” discloses the concerns of unidentified horsemeat in the International consumer market.
For additional information please refer to the following links:
Click for Vets for Equine Welfare Sheet>>
Click for Defendants sentenced in UK horse meat scandal>>
Click for Dutch Court Sends Meat Trader to Jail>>
CLASSES OF HORSES SENT TO SLAUGHTER:
Proponents of horse slaughter provide the impression that horses sent to slaughter represent sick, old, unwanted and starving horses. A USDA study determined that 92 percent of horses in the horse-slaughter pipeline are healthy and usable horses. An interview with a “kill buyer” states that a rigorous guideline is provided by the purchaser which includes (only) purchasing healthy horses and not purchasing horses that are sick, blind in one or both eyes, having open wounds or sores, crippled or malnourished.
Click for USDA Report>>
PERCENTAGE OF AMERICAN OPPOSED TO HORSE SLAUGHTER:
An ASPCA study reported that Americans opposing horse slaughter represent 80 percent of the populous.
ASPCA-Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption>>
As an educated Risk Analyst and business professional, I would rather read a report full of verifiable truths and facts rather than one representing bias, scare tactics, personal agendas and reporting only on one side of the subject thus distorting the full scope of an issue in order to promote horse slaughter in a personal business interest ratio.
It’s All About The Money!
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“Until Next Time, Keep ‘Em Between The Bridle!
WIND RIVER COMPANY LLC
Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Office/Mobile: (985) 630-3500
Web Site: http://www.windrivercompanyllc.com