Rep. Sue Wallis of Wyoming is the one who organized the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at a meeting last December. She is vice chair of the Agricultural Sub-Committe and is author of the proposal submitted to Congress on behalf of the Committee asking Congress NOT to pass anti-horse slaughter legislation - and they are organizing on a state-by-state basis. Already North Dakota, Arkansas, Kansas & Wyoming have taken direct action either through their own state legislative process or by petitioning Congress. Here is a letter Ms. Wallis is circulating around in support of her pro-slaughter position;
I have developed this list of talking points and action items over the last months of working so hard to protect the horse industry, and the horse people that I love from the horrific consequences being foisted upon us all by radical animal rights activists, and thought I would share them with you all. Please let me know if you can think of anything to add.Specific things you can do to help protect animal agriculture...In opposition to the Burton-Conyers HB 503 - Prevention of Cruelty to Equines Act that has been introduced in the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives in the US Congress.First of all...know what we are all up against...let me point to just a couple of the headlines out of the bill that has been introduced-from the transportation statement, "to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for any other purposes;"(that covers about everything!) "horses and other equines are domestic animals that are used primarily for recreation, pleasure, and sport;"(also used for work, and for the majority of world cultures for food) "the movement, showing, exhibition, or sale of sore horses in intrastate commerce, and the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation in intrastate commerce of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, adversely affect and burden interstate and foreign commerce;" ("sore" is a very loose term that could be applied to practically any horse under a lot of different circumstances) and "the Secretary may detain for examination, testing, or the taking of evidence-(the horse)-any horse at any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction which is sore or which the Secretary has probable cause to believe is sore." (Unconstitutional search and seizure!) According to Thomas Arens, a licensed Equine Professional and Auctioneer in Markleville, Indiana who pointed this out to me, the intent of the bill is to have a USDA official to be able to stop any horses being transported anywhere and take a swab sample of their legs. If the swab sample shows an astringent or a countered irritant then the assumption is that they must be transporting them to slaughter and the official will have the right to impound the horse. I am sure that I don't have to tell you what the implications are...and what the horrific imposition is just about to be foisted upon all of agriculture. If they can do this to me...let me assure you that we are one hair-breadth away from telling a dairy man that he can no longer market his cows when they don't breed back, or any other kind of livestock producer whose stock is not producing as they should. This is a clarion call to action for everyone in agriculture.
1. Talk to everybody. Talk to the media. Talk to livestock and agriculture groups. Talk to animal rescue and recovery groups. Talk to local governments. Talk to concerned citizens...and tell everyone of them to talk to everybody they know, and write Congress...particularly the House Judicial Committee where the Burton-Conyers HB 503 Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act has been introduced...and to both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees who need to challenge the appropriateness of that Committee, and weigh in with all of the weight of our rural and horse-loving citizens behind them. Here is a link to the House Judiciary Committee, House Agriculture Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee, and a contact list for the entire Congress so that you can contact your own Senators and Representatives. Below you will find a PowerPoint that you can use if you like...
2 What should you tell them?Make sure they understand the true agenda of the animal rights organizations backing this measure-imposing a vegan lifestyle on all of America-go to www.HumaneWatch.org yourselves, and point everyone you have any contact with that way-find out what the 7 Things You Need to Know About the HSUS are...
3. Make sure they hear that a vegan lifestyle is particularly dangerous for our babies and children. Babies and children deprived of animal derived protein through their mother's milk, and through their diets-their brains do not have the nutrients to develop properly-this lifestyle will severely handicap the next generation. Remember that 85% of the human brain's development happens in the first three years of life. Here are a couple of links that back this up: New York Times article - Authorities Say Strict Vegan Diet Endangered Life of Queens Baby; People Magazine - Did This Baby Die from a Vegan Diet?; and Death by Veganism, a New York Times Op Ed written by Nina Planck, author of Real Food.
4. Make sure they understand that most of the world eats horses. Remind them that horses have been used for many purposes, including food, since before the very first animals were domesticated. If we ban the processing of horses in the US it will not stop horses from being eaten-it will just destroy the equine industry here, eliminate the livelihoods of thousands of people, and the jobs of thousands more-at a time when the economy is already suffering tremendously. Here is a quote from a recent broadcast, "Frugal Icelanders Prepare For The Holidays Morning Edition, December 11, 2008 · Iceland has been hit by the global financial crisis in a big way. With unemployment surging and the currency collapsing, less expensive traditional staples are coming back into fashion. Frugal Icelanders are avoiding imported beers. They are also buying horse meat, which is half the price of beef."
4. Tell them that since the plants were closed by state action in the US, that we are now importing more than 500 metric tons of horsemeat into the US.
5. Make sure that every horse owner in the United States-especially the wealthy thoroughbred owners, and warm blood people, clearly understand that if we classify horses as pets, as companion animals-that all of their agriculture related tax benefits will disappear-no more deductions, no more exemptions. Horses are livestock, plain and simple.
6. Tell them this is not an issue of human euthanasia for un-wanted horses-this is an issue of economics and markets. Without a market there will be no breeders. Without breeders there will be no horses. Period.
7. Tell them that abandoned and neglected horses are overwhelming the rescue and recovery organizations, and that even if you wanted to give away your good, old horse today...you might not be able to find any place to go with him because there is no longer a release valve through the marketing of those horses who will never be anybody's pet-or whose owners need to salvage some economic value out of their property.Make sure they understand that we have some 33,000 (by BLM count-most ranchers dealing with those ranges say triple that number) so-called wild horses on the Western public lands. Make sure they know that we have another 30,000+ standing in feedlots all over the West at taxpayer expense.
8. Make sure they know that any unregulated, unmanaged horse herd will double itself every 4 years-that they are already destroying the ecosystems and wildlife habitat of our public lands, and that the cost of caring for them off of the lands will grow to $77 million dollars of taxpayer expense by 2012.
9. Remind them that 10 million people starve to death every year in this world...and maybe our excess BLM wild horses could be put to much better use by providing high quality, nutritious animal protein, untainted by BSE-type disease concerns of other livestock to people who could never afford to buy it. Once again, Americans can use an abundant and sustainable resource to come to the aid of the poor and starving of the world.
10. Encourage your legislature or assembly to send a clear message to the administration and the congress that our state's will not tolerate this clear violation of private property rights, and the blatant interference of the commerce clause of our US Constitution through the disruption of intrastate and foreign free commerce. Here is a link to the HJ0008 Equine Resources resolution that the Wyoming Legislature is passing this year. Feel free to contact me, I have lots of other resolutions from national organizations that you can model language after if you like.
11. We need to have the information and be ready to challenge every assumption-for example, we heard Gene Baur of the Farm Sanctuary in our Animal Rights/Animal Welfare discussion at the State Ag and Rural Leaders meeting invoke the name of Dr. Temple Grandin not once, but twice. We need to take that argument away from them. Dr. Grandin, as most of you probably know is a renowned autistic animal behavior scientist at Colorado State University who does a lot of work with the emotions of animals, and what it takes for an animal to lead a happy life. Her most recent book is a great read, you would enjoy it, Animals Make us Human: creating the best life for animals...the part that Mr. Baur conveniently left out...and which you need to know, understand, and broadcast to everyone is the part where they lead a happy life because they have their needs for sufficient food, clean water, proper handling AND a quick and painless death when they are processed into food. Her other books include Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals; Livestock Handling and Transport; and Humane Livestock Handling, in which she goes into great detail about the design of processing facilities and how they can be set up for efficiency, stress free handling, and humane slaughter.
12. The North Dakota Legislature is ahead of all of us and that they have a bill in their legislature this year to provide $100,000 to study the feasibility of a horse processing plant in their state. Some of that study money needs to very publicly go to Dr. Grandin or somebody like her, to make sure that plant design is designed specifically for horses so that their end-of-life experience is quiet, calm, and stress-free. Those of us in animal agriculture understand completely that that not only makes tremendous animal welfare sense, and we should be able to benefit from that...but it also makes perfect product quality sense...stressed animals equals poor quality meat...pure and simple. 13. Here is the PowerPoint presentation we used to explain the issue to the National Council of State Legislature's Agriculture and Energy Committee. Feel free to use it or change it to whatever advantage you can: ( click here to access the slideshow and many other resources)I'll conclude this pep talk by telling you a little about why this is so important to me, personally. I come from horse people, in horse country. My Dad was born on the Laramie Plains at the Wallis Brothers Ranch, and they, among other things, raised horses for the Army. They ran Remount studs provided by the Army with 20-25 mares with each stud bunch. Colonel Grey would come out every year to buy 3 and 4 year old geldings ready to train. Colonel Grey once told my grandfather that there were two places in the world that were perfect for raising horses in terms of sound legs, and good hooves-one of them is the bluegrass country of Kentucky, and the other is a 100 mile circle around Sheridan, Wyoming...and that is right where I live. I have great aunts and uncles who were world champion saddle bronc riders in the late 20s and 30s...and all sorts of relatives active in the rodeo world today. My father was a race steward and the very first job that my son Isaac ever held was as a jockey runner at the race track when he was 10 years old. I made my extra money in high school putting 30 to 60 days on green-broke colts. My brother, who lives on the ranch with my folks, my husband and I, raises Belgian and Haflinger horses and went all the way to Ohio to buy his Haflinger stud. So...horses have always been, and still are, a central part of our lives, the lives of my neighbors, and my constituents. I have committed myself to do everything that I can to preserve this way of life, and I will be happy to go just about anywhere, and talk to anybody. So, if you know of a place or time where I might be able to do some good...drop me a note, or give me a call...Thanks, Sue Wallis, Wyoming House of Representatives, Campbell County - District 52, PO Box 71, Recluse, WY 82725
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