JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri senators voiced support Thursday for the renewal of horse slaughtering in the United States, decrying "do-gooder" animal rights activists and touting the benefits of horse meat as food.
Since the last of the U.S. horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, thousands of horses have been trucked to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. Legislation pending in Congress seeks to put an end to that as well, by prohibiting the export of horses for slaughter for human consumption.
Missouri senators passed a resolution Thursday, without any dissent, denouncing the federal legislation and urging Congress to instead offer incentives to open horse processing plants in the United States.
Senators said it's cruel to force old or lame horses to wait for a natural death.
"The unintended consequence has been disastrous for horses. We now have horses all over the state that are skin and bones that are suffering tremendously," said Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit.
Bartle added: "Some people actually enjoy the taste of horse meat. It feeds dogs. It feeds other animals."
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal from the owners of a closed horse slaughtering plant who challenged an Illinois law prohibiting the killing of horses for human consumption.
The Humane Society says more than 86,000 U.S. horses were exported for slaughter in 2008, the majority going to Mexico.
Sen. Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield, blamed "do-gooder" animal rights activists for the closure of U.S. horse slaughterhouses — a sentiment echoed by other senators.
"People need to realize that horses are not pets; horses are livestock," said Sen. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring.
Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, who sponsored the resolution, described restrictions on horse slaughtering as impractical.
Some states have done more than just urge Congress to take action.
Last month, the Montana House endorsed a bill that could pave the way for construction of a horse slaughterhouse in that state. The North Dakota House voted last month to set aside $50,000 for a possible study on a horse slaughtering plant.