“I’ve been traveling to Europe and France for many years. At first when you see it, it’s startling. But a lot of people do eat it in other countries,” Boyce said.
It did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending.
The USDA issued a statement Tuesday saying there are no slaughterhouses in the U.S. that butcher horses for human consumption now, but if one were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed. USDA spokesman Neil Gaffney declined to answer questions beyond what was in the statement.
The last U.S. slaughterhouse that butchered horses closed in 2007 in Illinois, and animal welfare activists warned of massive public outcry in any town where a slaughterhouse may open.
“If plants open up in Oklahoma or Nebraska, you’ll see controversy, litigation, legislative action and basically a very inhospitable environment to operate,” predicted Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of The Humane Society of the United States. “Local opposition will emerge and you’ll have tremendous controversy over slaughtering Trigger and Mr. Ed.”
But pro-slaughter activists say the ban had unintended consequences, including an increase in neglect and the abandonment of horses, and that they are scrambling to get a plant going — possibly in Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or Missouri. They estimate a slaughterhouse could open in 30 to 90 days with state approval and eventually as many as 200,000 horses a year could be slaughtered for human consumption. Most of the meat would be shipped to countries in Europe and Asia, including France and Japan.
USDA Promoting Horse Meat:
Background on Horses for Meat
Horse was commonly eaten in many countries in pre-Christian Europe, but not in Islamic or Jewish countries, since under Mosaic Law horse meat is considered unclean because it conformed to the formula of an animal that was not at the same time cloven-hoofed and cud-chewing. In pre-Christian times horse meat eating in northern Europe figured prominently in Teutonic religious ceremonies, particularly those associated with the worship of the god Odin.
In 732 A.D. Pope Gregory III began a concerted effort to stop this pagan practice, and it has been said that the people of Iceland were reluctant to embrace Christianity for some time largely over the issue of giving up horse meat. In some countries the effects of this prohibition by the Catholic Church have lingered, and horse meat prejudices have progressed from taboos to avoidance to abhorrence. Today, however, horse meat is commonly consumed in many European countries. USDA Promotes the Eating of Horse & Goat Meat
Bontheball did some searching and found that horse meat is actually healthier than beef:
Horse meat nutrition facts: