As you are all aware, we are basically down to three days before the court proceedings in New Mexico. That lawsuit is not solely about the New Mexico facility as we have discussed. Pretty much any horse slaughter plant that hopes to open has a vested interest in how this case shakes out. So having said that, why is it the Valley Meats plant in New Mexico seems to be the only one getting all the grief? Breaking news today is that the plant in Roswell was set on fire on the weekend. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/30/slaughterhouse-hit-arson/2600303/). I would seem the plant is still standing, but the refrigerator units have suffered some damage. I’m not even going to float much of an opinion as to who is responsible as people will make up their own minds one way or another. However, IF this was done by somebody against slaughter, this is not the way to get things done and not cool at all. De Los Santos plays enough sympathy cards without handing him additional ones and the law is still the law. Protest, write letters, and make your calls to your reps. All those things actually help. Doing batshit crazy stuff no matter if you are pro or anti is just going to get yourselves in trouble. I do know one thing though, saying that any and all anti is capable of something like this, is about like saying any and all PSAs are running black market slaughter facilities in their garages. Both sides have extremists and they are equally as crazy. Ok, enough preaching for now. We have more fun things to talk about, mainly a `Call to Action’ posted by D-bag Duquette, but is actually a letter from Charlie Stenholm. It’s awesome!
For those of you that don’t know, Stenholm is a former Congressman from Texas who currently fills his days lobbying for slaughter and attempting to drum up support from different tribes. Stenholm is paid of his support of the slaughter industry Here is a link to his latest, but I’ll give you the highlights. (http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Letter-from-Congressman-Stenholm.html?soid=1112812195452&aid=iHav0F2VgAU). It really is a masterpiece of spin that is worth looking at.
As you know, the issue of horse slaughter has rallied the animal rights crowd together for the last several years. HSUS and its allies have gained substantial traction on the matter this year. First, the Obama Administration submitted a budget to Congress with a prohibition on funding for FSIS inspectors at horse slaughter facilities. Next, the current House and Senate Appropriations Committee versions of the FY 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill reinstates the funding ban for FSIS inspection of horse slaughter. However, with the state of affairs in the 113th Congress, it is unlikely that the FY 2014 appropriations bill will be enacted as law by the September 30th deadline. Thus, we will likely operate on a Continuing Resolution without a ban on domestic horse slaughter inspection.
– Let’s not forget that Charlie is paid to rally the troops here. Not sure about the rest of you, but the fact that the defunding language is in that bill with overwhelming support would suggest that the future of horse slaughter is far from certain regardless of what happens on Friday. You can’t be a great business person to gamble that much money on a venture that may only be legal for a few months.
With their chances for a legislative victory slipping as the deadline approaches, HSUS has turned to the federal courts to block horse slaughter. On June 28th, FSIS issued a grant of inspection to Valley Meat Co., a Roswell, NM-based equine packing plant. FSIS also issued a grant of inspection to Responsible Transportation, LLC, a Sigourney, IA-based horse slaughter plant. Within five days, HSUS had filed suit in a San Francisco federal court to block FSIS from proceeding with its plans to allow horse slaughter to re-commence in the United States. The case, Front Range Equine Rescue v. Vilsack (No. 1:13-cv-00639-MCA-RHS), has since been transferred to the federal court in Albuquerque, NM.
HSUS argues that the decision to re-commence horse slaughter in the United States constitutes a major federal action and, as such, FSIS was required to conduct an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Without question, this is a desperate attempt to delay USDA from providing inspectors to the point that the financially-strained horse slaughter plants are forced to shutter. However, HSUS has gotten traction on this argument in the past (see HSUS v. Johanns, 2007 WL 1120404 (D.D.C.)). If HSUS succeeds on this matter, then FSIS will be forced to conduct an environmental assessment (EA) and possibly put together an environmental impact statement (EIS) prior to inspecting horses for slaughter. After FSIS has delivered its EA or EIS, HSUS will have an opportunity to litigate the validity of those documents too. This can draw out the NEPA process to 2 to 5 years.
– Ahhh, typical PSA tactic at play here. State your misguided opinion as fact and hope people get on board. Not sure what he bases the slipping chance of legislative victory on, but he’s not paid to paint a clear picture, he’s paid to rally the troops.
I am writing you because, no matter what stance your organization takes on the horse slaughter matter, the Front Range Equine Rescue case is important to your constituents. If HSUS is able to succeed on the NEPA argument, what is stopping them from using this same argument to target the next opening or expansion of a beef, swine, or poultry processing facility? The future growth of the animal agriculture industry could be imperiled by an unfavorable outcome in this case.
HSUS is not going to win this case without a fight. By law, DOJ is obligated to defend FSIS in this matter. Furthermore, the proposed horse slaughter plants and the Yakama Nation have intervened in this matter to ensure that they have a say in this litigation.
– His letter was addressed to `friends’, so we’re not really sure who he is writing to and I’m guessing he wasn’t sure either. Notice he worked in the standard scare tactic of this opening the door to all slaughter being targeted and the growth of the ag industry. Does anybody actually believe that? You don’t see antis running around in all seriousness saying that the slaughter of horses for consumption will lead to dogs and cats being on the menu at every restaurant. One thing does not always lead to another. Although that is a far more likely scenario than the ban of beef, swine and poultry from our menus.
However, USDA has issued press releases acknowledging that it would prefer to not commence horse slaughter. Secretary Vilsack has opined that he desires an alternative, such as adopting out the annual 150,000-plus supply of unwanted horses to veterans suffering from PTSD. Based on these statements, I believe USDA would hardly be disappointed if a federal court tied its hands on the horse slaughter matter. And it’s hardly out of the question that a “sweetheart settlement” is in the works in light of what we saw between the EPA and environmental groups in the 2008 CAFO Rule and the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
Two essential things are missing from this fight: the broader animal ag industry and financial resources. Animal agriculture stands to lose much by remaining on the sidelines in this case. An unfavorable decision on the NEPA matter could mean that HSUS and its allies could burden the next slaughter plant with NEPA-borne bureaucratic red tape that could hinder the industry’s ability to promptly respond to changes in the marketplace.
– He fails to talk about why the USDA would like the ban reinstated. The fact is that with limited budget and the EU deadline, which is today, the writing is on the wall that the horse slaughter industry has no future in this country. Why should we pull inspection funding and resources away from our very food supply to fund this foreign industry that is questionable at best? I never have been able to understand why certain cattle producers think any of this would be a good idea when the return of domestic horse slaughter would end up hurting their bottom line.
The current intervenors in this matter are financially strapped and without the option of sending thousands of excess horses to USDA-inspected plants, they neither have the cash flow nor the reserves necessary to carry on an extended battle with HSUS and its barrels of money. These intervenors could certainly use the credibility and resources of your organization on their side.
The next event in the Front Range Equine Rescue case is a preliminary injunction hearing on Friday, August 2nd in New Mexico. After this hearing, the judge will decide whether to enjoin FSIS from inspecting horse slaughter while the NEPA case is pending. Regardless of the outcome on Friday, this case is expected to continue well into next year.
Although the deadline to intervene for participation in this Friday’s preliminary injunction has passed, there is still an opportunity for your organization to participate as an intervener in the case in chief. If you are interested in ensuring that your organization can have a say in this matter and join in the fight against HSUS, please contact me. I would be happy to put you in touch with the folks in our litigation team here at OFW Law.
– And finally we get right down to it….SEND MONEY. It’s always about them with their hands out. Pay for my horse, clean up my mess, give me money, blah, blah, blah. Besides, this is NOT a fight with the HSUS, this is a fight for horses. Period. Thank goodness we do have an organization as powerful as the HSUS that can advocate for them.
In other news today, the Equine Welfare Alliance has finally released its long-awaited white paper on how the GAO Report on `horse welfare’ is basically a huge fraud. (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/58277209/How%20the%20GAO%20Deceived%20Congress%20v4.pdf). Of course, many of us have known for a long time that the data collected for the GAO report was questionable at best and designed to prop up the pro-slaughter side of things, but now you have the hard copy on exactly how they did that. There is an excellent synopsis of this paper on YouTube that you can watch also. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSxUPNgzgn4). Of course, the PSAs have already resorted to personal attacks on John Holland as if that makes this report any less convincing. The fact is they won’t be convinced there is any other option other than slaughter no matter what evidence you present them with. These types of reports are for the fence sitters and the law makers that truly may not have a leaning one way or another. The GAO report is the most often cited `proof’ that PSAs use to back up the need for slaughter and I’m quite certain it will be bandied about in court on Friday. Thankfully, there is now irrefutable evidence as to why nothing should be based on that work of fiction.
We reach another very important deadline today; the one imposed by the EU as far as equine traceability, things are getting quite serious. I’ve not come across any indication on what this means for Canadian slaughter plants as they still don’t have an acceptable traceability system in place either, but it basically wipes out the EU market for US produced horse meat. The huge problem with all of it is, that horses magically become Canadian or Mexican as soon as they cross the borders and all this hinges on the honesty of kill buyers. There is absolutely zero way to trace most horses throughout their lifespan as far as medications etc. as the only thing they have been depending on so far is the honestly of the kill buyers filling out the forms. Because all we really have to go on as far as market, is the Canadian stats, here is a little chart on exported horse meat to show you just how heavily this industry depends on the EU market: (http://www.agr.gc.ca/redmeat-vianderouge/rpt/12tbl39_eng.htm). We know Japan mostly prefers live horses to slaughter for themselves and Asia and Russia don’t really want out toxic meat either. I have to wonder where it’s all going to go should they manage to reopen slaughter for horses. I know I will no longer be consuming any form of red meat and I’m already very fussy about what the dogs and cats get fed. As always, the only way to end this mess once and for all is to get the SAFE Act passed. Keep a good thought and send prayers or whatever you believe in as far as the court case in New Mexico, but please continue to make those calls and get the word out on the SAFE Act. Let’s get this done!
The SAFE ACT will ban horse slaughter of American horses any where forever. I start calling tomorrow and will repeat weekly. Call the committee members-see attached:
Ask them to support the SAFE ACT which is H.R.1094 in the House and S.541 in the Senate.
To make it easier to call, here is a list of the Senators on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that must approve S.541 (202) 224-3121
Tom Harkin, D, Chairman
Lamar Alexander, R, Ranking Member
Bob Casey, D
Kay Hagan, D
Bernie Sanders, I
Tammy Baldwin, D
Michael Bennet, D
Richard Burr, R
Michael Enzi, R
Al Franken, D
Orrin Hatch, R
Mark Kirk, R
Barbara Mikulski, D
Lisa Murkowski, R
Christopher Murphy, D
Patty Murray, D
Rand Paul, R
Pat Roberts, R
Tim Scott, R
Elizabeth Warren, D
Sheldon Whitehouse, D
Here is the list of the Representatives on the Agriculture Committee who are responsible for sending H.R.1094 to the House Floor for a vote.
Rick Crawford, R, Chairman
Jim Costa, D, Ranking Member
Cheri Bustos, D
Michael Conaway, R
Joe Courtney, D
Jeff Denham, R
Scott Desjarlais, R
William Enyart, D
Pete Gallego, D
Christopher Gibson, R
Bob Goodlatte, R
Richard Hudson, R
Steve King, R
Michelle Lujan Grisham, D
Mike McIntyre, D
Randy Neugebauer, R
Richard Nolan, D
Reid Ribble, R
Mike Rogers, R
Kurt Schrader, D
David Scott, D
Glenn Thompson, R
Filemon Vila, D
Ted Yoho, R