Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bill for horse slaughter is out of Neb. committee

A bill paving the way for Nebraska to begin a horse slaughter program has passed the state legislature's agriculture committee. The bill would establish a state meat inspection program as a first step to opening horse slaughter and processing plants. JoAnne Young of the Lincoln Journal Star reports the bill "was introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill, who said it could open markets for horse, elk, ostrich, bison and grass-fed cattle processing," Young writes. Horse slaughterhouses have been championed as a market-oriented solution to the growing number of abandoned horses in the country, but opponents say they are inhumane.

In 2006, Congress prohibited the use of federal funds to inspect the remaining three U.S. horse slaughter facilities, a factor that led to their closure. The Nebraska "meat inspection program would be funded at least initially by $200,000 from the Commercial Feed Administration Cash Fund, and later by fees for the inspection services," Young writes.  Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, chairman of the agriculture committee, said any horse processing plant would have to be a state-of-the-art facility designed by someone with expertise on facility design and animal behavior, welfare and handling.  He also noted, "We are going to treat horses in the way people want them to be treated." (Read more)

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