Columnist: Horse Slaughter Reasonable

Andy Jensen

On a rather nice November day I was looking over my Facebook page where several of my “Ag” friends had posted links. No, not to YouTube, or about some boots they may want to purchase, or what ring they just got from their boyfriend, but about the re-opening of horse slaughter. My eyes got bright, what are they saying? Have our prayers been answered? I clicked the link, and in big letters it read: Congress Lifts Ban on Horse Slaughter. This was it, just the thing that the equine industry needed.

But why was this needed? How can this help an industry that looks like it’s doing well? Behind the barn doors it isn’t all Hollywood and racetracks. Thousands of horses (at least 170,000 a year according to the Unwanted Horse Coalition) have entered the unwanted corral. The ban’s lift means families, facilities and stockyards have an outlet for these animals.

I am not saying load up your trailer and take your horses to the closest horse sale. I’m simply stating this will allow horses to be humanely disposed of instead of being neglected, abandoned, abused and over-bred, which is what is happening now. This is a better option for the animals.

I know there are people who would say I’m going to “agriculture hell” for wanting horses processed. The fact of the matter is, in this great state of South Dakota horses are considered livestock. Horses should not be placed on the same pedestal as cats and dogs. This is why in America we find it taboo to even think about horses as a source of food (and let me remind you, in other cultures cows are sacred and our furry friends are on the menu). Would I try horse? Sure! Why not, you only live once. Would I eat it daily? Probably not. Horse meat wasn’t always so “taboo.” In World War I and II, it was fed to our troops when beef was scarce.

“Eww, horse meat!” you might be saying, but I’m not here to tell you it’s the new, up and coming protein that you’ll find at your local grocery stores. I’m not saying that our fast food places will be selling quarter pounders of horse. Most of the horse meat processed in America was exported. Meat that stayed in the United States was sold to zoos and wildlife sanctuaries for animal feed, another practical use for this protein.

The humane processing of horses is a must. We have a growing number of horses that are being neglected, abused, and forgotten. Like it or not, this will be a better alternative to doing nothing.