All across America, horses are revered as cultural icons who helped us navigate our cities and settle the West. They are loyal companions and partners in recreation and sport. It’s no different in Iowa, where we fawn over show ponies, cheer on race horses and rely on farm horses to work our land.
Nowhere in our country’s narrative have horses ever been considered dinner.
But the blood of slaughtered American horses could soon be spilled in Iowa. In an inexplicable decision, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the green light to a facility in Sigourney to begin slaughtering horses for human consumption. The decision ignored the fact that an overwhelming 80 percent of Americans oppose the practice and that the horse meat produced here in Iowa would be a potential health risk for the people who consume it.
The predatory horse slaughter industry wants us to believe that horse slaughter on U.S. soil is somehow a humane option, but it is exactly the opposite. Horse slaughter – whether in U.S. or foreign plants — is abusive from the auction house to the kill box. Horses will travel to Iowa from all around the country, likely crammed in trailers, for days without food, water or escape from extreme temperature. They won’t be “old” or “unusable” horses, either. The USDA itself reports that more than 92 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition and wouldn’t otherwise need to be euthanized. The kill buyers snatching up horses at auctions to sell for slaughter are looking for the best price per pound, not the sickly and thin.
When horse slaughter plants operated in the United States prior to being shut down in 2007, USDA documentation and undercover investigations revealed horrific suffering: horses enduring repeated attempts to render them unconscious; employees whipping horses in the face; and horses arriving at the slaughterhouses with broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin and open wounds. There is no reason to think this grisly practice will be any different here in Iowa.