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Horse slaughter in Illinois

Contact: Gail Vacca - 815-761-4937

April 4, 2007

Illinois Legislator Proposes EU Food Animal Regulations for American Horses

An Illinois legislator wants to bring the European Union's horse passport regulations here.

In disconcerting testimony given March 21, 2007 before the Illinois House Executive Committee, Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-DeKalb) called upon his colleagues in the Illinois House to consider a proposal he will bring forward to institute a plan for United States horses, much like the European Union's horse passports scheme.

Pritchard, a longtime proponent of the foreign-owned Cavel horse slaughter plant in DeKalb, suggested that the Illinois legislature adopt an amendment that will put into place "the European method of animal identification." Pritchard contends that such legislation would "protect horse owners" and allow them to determine whether or not their horses could be "processed by the meat industry."

"I was absolutely stunned by Representative Pritchard's ridiculous and nefarious plan that would place such a burden on U.S. horse owners," said Gail Wiot, a horse owner from Orland Park, Illinois. "I am not at all surprised that Pritchard and Cavel would attempt to concoct some type of scheme to try to somehow make horse slaughter appear acceptable. Pritchard has never been in tune with horse owners and Illinoisans on this issue."

"If the Europeans want to eat horsemeat, let them eat their own horses," said Janice Ely, a Thoroughbred trainer based in Illinois. "We do not consider horses to be food animals in our country. The notion that the owners of 9 million U.S. horses would have to go through the expense to implant microchips into their horses, and that we would have to submit to the government regulation of our horses as a 'food' animal like horse owners in the EU are required to do, is simply outrageous," she added. "It makes no sense whatsoever to spend millions if not billions of taxpayer dollars so that a couple of foreign-owned horsemeat plants can continue to slaughter horses for their own personal profit."

Unlike the United States, horsemeat is consumed in many European Union countries. Because horses are considered to be food animals in the EU, food safety regulations require that every horse in the EU carry an equine passport.

Horse owners in the EU must adhere to strict guidelines which govern the types of medications their horses can receive throughout their lifetime, in order to assure that should the horse enter the human food chain the meat will be safe for human consumption. Medications administered to EU horses are strictly controlled, and some of the drugs commonly used on U.S. companion and sport horses are completely banned for use in EU horses.

Additionally, as a result of strict EU regulations on veterinary products, the cost of veterinary medications and other routinely used equine health care products such as dewormers, are significantly higher in the EU than in the United States.

Janine Starykowicz, a horse owner and publisher of the Chicago-based online horseracing industry magazine, concluded, "It is the height of hypocrisy for Rep. Pritchard -- who has been widely quoted by local media saying that he supports horse slaughter because horse owners should have a 'right to decide the fate of their animals' -- to infringe upon the rights of millions of American horse owners for the sole benefit of a European-owned horsemeat company. American horses are athletes, not meat. Horsemen are really going to need to speak out about this. We need to make it crystal clear to pro-horse slaughter legislators like Pritchard (who by the way is not a horse owner) that we will never allow the U.S. government or the EU to legislate their food animal policies on our horses."

Enacting such legislation to regulate U.S. horses would clearly be a federal issue and would not fall within the jurisdiction of state legislatures. That said, any attempt to regulate horses as food animals must be vigorously opposed and defeated. If we allow this to come to pass in Illinois, attempts by the horsemeat industry and their proponents to enact federal legislation will follow.

To listen to State Representative Pritchard's testimony before the Illinois House Executive Committee, please click here:

For more information on EU Equine Passports legislation and what it would mean for American horse owners please visit the following links.

EU Equine Passport Document

EU Regulations regarding fresh meat entering food chain



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