Yet another blast from the press. No matter where you live you are probably seeing this kind of thing every day. We are seeing a real upsurge right now in Wyoming because of our press releases about the Unified Equine Programs, but if you live in Missouri, or Tennesse, or Montana, or anywhere else where horse people are trying to find a good solution…you are no doubt seeing far too much. The press loves a controversy, and we are an easy, dramatic story. We need every one of you to stand up, speak out, and counter these attacks.
We cannot let this (or any public expression of misinformation, outright lies, and exaggerations) go unanswered. We must speak with many voices. I have become too much of an easy target, and while I’m happy to share talking points, etc., it will be much better and more effective if it comes from other voices. We really need mainstream agriculture and horse people who understand to tell your story. You all understand that if we lose this battle over the hearts and minds of the pet owning public, that our entire animal agriculture and horse based livelihoods are lost.
Please share with all of your contacts, your email lists, your agriculture organizations, your friends and your neighbors and ask them to take action. If you want to know more about the system that we are putting together in Wyoming, please visit our website at http://UnitedOrgsoftheHorse.org. For those of you who haven’t visited for awhile, you will find a clean, new look that is very focused on exactly what we are trying to accomplish.
If you want to drive change, you have to get out of the back of the truck. That is what we are trying to do. Animal rights organizations like HSUS/PETA create problems, inflame problems, and make money off of problems…we solve problems, and create value out of good solutions.
Be brief, be polite, and make sure you stand on the moral high ground. Become an advocate for animal agriculture and for the rightful place of horses within that framework. Show your passion. Don’t let misinformation go unchecked. Stay on top of what is going on. Understand the other side, most of these people are true horse lovers who consider their horses as pets, and who are being emotionally manipulated by animal rights ideologues who have a much darker agenda. Pick out three or four points that you need to get across, and tell your story.
Here are some points:
1. We, the horse owners and people who make all or part of our living with horses, are the people who care. We are the people who clean the stalls, pay the feed bills every day, are responsible for the care of our animals, and make the hard decisions when necessary.
2. There are fates far, far worse than slaughter. A quick, painless death in a slaughter plant is far preferable to a slow and agonizing death of starvation. Nature is cruel. Death in the wild is often brutal, prolonged, and horrific. Imagine being eaten while still alive as is the fate of many horses turned out to fend for themselves.
3. Without the option of slaughter, and using the meat to feed hungry animals or hungry people, those who can no longer afford to keep a horse, and cannot sell it, have literally no option…you can’t bury a 1,000 lb horse in the back yard like a cat or a dog.
4. Some Americans always have and always will eat horse meat. It is what filled the bellies of our soldiers who won World War II, and kept the families here at home fed throughout the 1940s when there was a shortage of all other meat. You could find it on the menu at the dining room at Harvard until the late 1980s, you can still find horse sausage in Scandinavian butcher shops in the upper mid-West. We have been contacted by gourmet chefs, and local food aficionados who want access to a high quality meat, that is very nutritious (50% higher in protein, 40% lower in fat than beef), from well cared for animals that have no disease concerns like mad cow. You can find horse meat on the menus of our closest neighbors in French Canada, and Mexico, and many people have taken the opportunity to enjoy it while traveling abroad. 72% of world cultures consider it just another protein source. China consumes the most, followed by Mexico, then Italy, Belgium, France, all the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Japan, Korea, Tonga, Mongolia, Canada-and since the U.S. is full of people from the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa, there are quite a few people who would welcome the availability of a good wholesome meat at an affordable price. While considered a gourmet dish in some parts of Europe where the best cuts are expensive, in by far the majority of markets around the world, with Iceland being a perfect example, horse meat is affordable and about half the price of beef.
5. All animals, including horses, take nature that we cannot use and turn it into nature that we can use. Try drinking the water that a pig drinks, or surviving on the food that a cow or horse eats.
6. It is our core belief that people have a right to use animals, and a responsibility to do so humanely. We subscribe to the same moral and ethical foundation as our Native American friends, that all animals are sacred and must be harvested with dignity and gratitude, but that the most horrific crime is to waste their sacrifice. Contrast that viewpoint with the total waste of at least 200,000 horse carcasses per year which, if euthanized with lethal drugs, become no more than a colossal disposal problem with toxic carcasses that cannot even be buried because of fear that it will leach into groundwater.
7. One billion people on the planet today rarely get enough to eat, and another billion do not get enough protein and nutrients for health. Ten million children a year die of starvation. From a moral standpoint, can we afford to put any viable protein source off limits?
8. The system being proposed in Wyoming will guarantee every horse a good life, and where appropriate, guarantee them a decent and humane death. Once dead, what happens to the carcass is no longer an issue of animal welfare.
9. Under the current situation, the only horses that have any value whatsoever are those that are big enough, healthy enough, and close enough to a border to be worth the trucking to Canada and Mexico where they are slaughtered under systems and circumstances we cannot control or regulate. We feel it is far better to do this under US regulation, and in situations where we can monitor it.
10. The system being proposed in Wyoming is being designed by world renowned scientist, Dr. Temple Grandin, who has transformed the beef and pork slaughter industry from a humane standpoint. We will do it right, under regulated and inspected circumstances, and it will be continuously monitored by a third-party video audit system to ensure that no horse is abused and that all guidelines for the correct and proper handling of horses are always complied with. This will be an open and transparent process that anyone who chooses to do so, can see exactly what we are doing.
11. Because of the closure of the US slaughter plants in the US in 2007 by state action in Illinois and Texas, the entire horse industry from top to bottom has been deeply affected. What was a 1.2 Billion dollar industry supporting 460,000 full-time direct jobs, and another 1.6 million indirect jobs has been cut in half. There has been a loss of a minimum of 500,000 direct and indirect jobs, and horses that were worth $1,000 are now worthless, horses once worth $2,500 are lucky to bring $750, horses that would have sold for $85,000 to $100,000 are now being liquidated for $10,000 each. These hard, cold facts all have a very human face in livelihoods lost, in families no longer able to raise their children in a horseback culture, in diminished tax bases for communities.
12. The animal rights radical agenda (NOT to be confused with legitimate and responsible animal welfare proponents, which we all are) offers no solution except pushing for what is essentially a welfare entitlement program for animals-Medicaid and food stamps for horses so that every old, dangerous, unsound, unusable horse is maintained at public expense for the rest of their 25 to 30 year average life span. What they propose will create a mechanism to shovel taxpayer dollars directly into the pockets of animal rights organizations (HSUS/PETA) so they can continue to pay six figure salaries and put more of their budget into pension plans than to actually help any animals. Last year HSUS spent less than 1/2 of 1% of their almost $100 Million dollar budget on direct animal care. See http://humanewatch.org.
13. Remember, animal consumption is socially legitimate. Only 2% of the population are true vegetarians, another maybe 5% think they ought to be but don’t manage to do it…that is only 7% of the population at most. If we allow the animal rights argument to prevail, than there really is no difference between the heinous and awful crime of killing a horse to use for animal food, (as will be the main use of horses harvested in Wyoming), or human food…and the heinous crime of killing a cow, a pig, or a chicken. The ultimate goal of animal rightists, which is a very, very radical and idealogic agenda, is to end all human use of animals and to eliminate all domestic animals which is to many of us a gross perversion of the moral and ethical underpinnings of our society, not to mention a dangerous, unhealthy, and unnatural way of being.
14. Those who oppose the eating of horses have never been hungry. Hungry people don’t care where their meat comes from, they just want to survive.
15. Claims that horse meat is full of drugs that cannot be detected is nothing more than a red herring. The same kind of controls, safe guards, and testing protocols used to ensure that our beef, pork, and chicken is safe and residue free can be applied to horse meat…if it is produced and processed here in the U.S. where we have the ability to regulate and inspect it.