What is S.D. State Rep. Kloucek Thinking?

S.D. state Rep. Frank KloucekUpdate Feb. 3, 2011: Thanks to your letters, emails and calls, Rep. Frank Kloucek’s bills, H.B. 1072, H.B. 1073 and H.J.R. 1001, were not voted out of committee. 

For more on these bills, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: South Dakota state Rep. Frank Kloucek is trying once again to promote horse slaughter in the state. As he did in 2009 and 2010, Rep. Kloucek has proposed a bill, H.B. 1072, that would authorize $100,000 of taxpayer funds for a "study" of the "feasibility, viability, and desirability of establishing and operating" a horse slaughter facility.  

The commercial slaughter of horses is illegal in the U.S.  It is unlikely that a state law can change that. It’s not clear why any taxpayer in South Dakota would want the state legislature to spend a dime, let alone $100,000, during a recession, to "study" the operation of an arcane business that could not legally operate under current federal law. 

Also, it has been well-established that American horses are simply not safe for consumption.  American horses are provided all manner of drugs, steroids, de-wormers and ointments, some of which have no or a very long withdrawal period. It has been demonstrated that bute, for example, which is given like aspirin to horses, is a carcinogen in humans and can also cause aplastic anemia. American horses are not tracked and may have several owners. A kill buyer taking a horse to slaughter has no idea of the horse’s drug or veterinary history. 

South Dakotans may want to consider the experience of cities and towns like Kaufman, Texas where horse slaughter facilities operated. They found no benefit, only financial and environmental devastation.  In 2010 the people of Hardin, Montana said no to a proposed horse slaughter plant in their city and even amended city ordinances to prohibit the slaughter of more than ten animals in a seven day period. The Carry the Kettle first nation tribe in Canada declined an offer of economic assistance to reopen the Natural Valley Farms horse slaughter plant in Saskatchewan. The plant had been closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency after it was discovered dumping blood into the local river and leaving waste in shallow pits.

Slaughter is hardly an "alternative" for excess horses or horses in need. Slaughter actually creates a salvage or secondary market that encourages overbreeding. It is the availablity of slaughter that contributes to the number of excess horses.

The business of slaughter is driven, not by numbers of excess horses or those that may be neglected or abandoned because of the economic downturn, but by a demand for horsemeat as a pricey delicacy in other countries. American horses are still sent to slaughter in the same numbers as before it became illegal in 2007. So it is not lack of slaughter that has caused more neglect or abandonment of horses but instead the poor economy and overbreeding encouraged by the availability of slaughter!  With demand for horsemeat down because of the recession and less breeding right now, this is actually the perfect time to end horse slaughter. That is what would help horses in need the most.  

But Rep. Kloucek remains undeterred by the economics, cruelty and environmental devastation of horse slaughter that should dictate a ban on the seedy practice. He has actually gone further this year in his quest to revive horse slaughter in the U.S. by also introducing H.B. 1073. This bill would authorize loans up to $1 million for the "design, construction, completion, equipping, and maintaining of an equine processing facility to be located on state, tribal, or private lands in South Dakota".

Then there is H.J.R.1001 also offered by Kloucek and that would call for an amendment to the state constitution to allow the legislature to "provide by law and appropriate money for the purchase or construction and operation of … a horse processing plant… within the state".

H.B. 1072, H.B. 1073 and H.J.R. 1001 are assigned to the South Dakota House of Representatives Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.