A Publication of WTVP

The corn and soybean crops in the Peoria area are still on pace to give farmers impressive results at harvest time. Adequate moisture has fallen, and corn and soybean development is progressing. It was a challenge for some livestock farmers to get hay baled during May and early June; mowed hay usually needs two to three sunny, warm days before it can be baled. Livestock farmers are always looking at the weather forecast for a three- to four-day, fair-weather opportunity.

In other farm news, there's been legislation introduced in the General Assembly that would make it illegal to harvest a horse for meat. The legislation targets one business in Illinois, a business that's operated successfully for 17 years. Cavel International has been closed for the past two years, due to a fire at their equine harvesting facility in DeKalb. The plant is being rebuilt, and its capacity will be 100 animals per day, or 26,000 annually.

This is an animal welfare issue. In the two years Cavel has been closed, animal welfare complaints in Illinois have doubled. It's important that equine owners are able to maintain their choice for end-of-life issues to keep horses from unneeded suffering and pain.

The consumption of horsemeat by humans in the U.S. isn't permitted by state and federal laws. This meat is exported primarily to Belgium, France, and Japan. The practice of harvesting horsemeat is a humane, regulated, and sanitary method of disposing of horses.

This legislation would prohibit exporting of Illinois horses to Europe or Asia-or even other states that permit horse slaughter-and would potentially make criminals out of some of the most respected horse breeders and trainers.

The alternative is trucking animals thousands of miles to Canada or Mexico or expensive euthanization of an animal and removal of the carcass. Simply adopting, or even providing temporary housing of animals of this size, is too impractical.

There were 85,000 unwanted American horses sent to slaughter in 2003. Who would pay for the care of these unwanted horses if this legislation passes? Whether you own a horse or not, eventually everyone would pick up some of the tab, likely through tax dollars. It's been estimated that establishing a statewide welfare program for unwanted horses may cost Illinois taxpayers as much as $22 million in the first year alone.

Keep in mind that no horse owner is required or obligated to send their horse to slaughter. Responsible horse owners make responsible decisions for their animals. This is about 15,000 unwanted horses each year in the Midwest alone. How many are you willing to adopt, take home, and maintain?

The Horseman's Council of Illinois, a host of veterinary and horse organizations, plus the Illinois Farm Bureau, oppose this proposed legislation that would ban horse slaughter in Illinois.

The Horsemen's Council of Illinois is a statewide coalition of horsemen working together to provide representative leadership for Illinois' diverse $3.8 billion horse industry and to promote involvement with horses. It's the state's largest all-breed equine organization, representing approximately 10,000 horse owners. IBI