In response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), Animal Law Coalition has learned that Bouvry Exports, which has the largest horse slaughter operation in Canada, has obtained an application for FSIS inspections. Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act the inspections are required in the U.S. for horses that are to be slaughtered for human consumption. FSIS approval and agreement to provide inspectors would be an important step for Bouvry Exports in opening a U.S. facility to slaughter horses for human consumption.
Earlier this year Allen Warren, operator of Horse Harbor Foundation, an equine sanctuary in Washington state, indicated a source inside Bouvry Exports was reporting the Canadian company has plans to open a U.S. horse slaughter house at Florence Packing Co., Inc. just outside of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. Florence Packing Co., Inc. previously slaughtered horses there until the early 1990s. It was known as "Death Row for Horses". The Florence Packing slaughter operation as it was in the 1990s is pictured here.
The Florence Packing facility has continued to serve Bouvry Exports as a feedlot and collection point for horses doomed to slaughter at its Fort MacLeod, Alberta plant. "Florence Packing" is also listed as a Bouvry Exports brandname for its horse meat products.
Bouvry Exports was added to the November, 2011, USDA list of bonded meat processors in the US despite that currently the company has no slaughter facilities in this country.
All of this points to serious plans by Bouvry Exports to re-establish the Florence Packing facility as a horse slaughter house. Horse slaughter became legal again in the U.S. in November, 2011. "The fact that Bouvry has an FSIS application in hand for Stanwood and can file it at any time means this threat is still hanging over our heads here in Washington State and we will continue our efforts to marshall public opinion against it to stop it in its tracks if and when the application is filed," Warren stated.
Snohomish County water quality officials are concerned as it is that horses are kept at the site for export for slaughter. An inspection was done last year because of concerns about pollutants detected downstream. The Stillaguamish River Divergence runs along the north side of the facility. It is a known Chinook salmon habitat with hatcheries located downstream. Also, the facility sits in a floodplain. Officials and residents will have much more to be concerned about if a horse slaughter facility opens: Go here to read about the economic and environmental devastation horse slaughter brought to communities when facilities operated in the U.S. prior to their closure in 2007. There was no benefit, only substantial cost including to the quality of life.
Washington animal welfare organizations representing thousands of state citizens have come together in an effort to prevent a horse slaughter facility from opening. Legislation is likely to be introduced soon at the county as well as state level.