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Horses Could Soon Be Slaughtered for Meat in the U.S.
WASHINGTON -- Congress has lifted a de facto ban on the slaughter of horses, a move hailed by Missouri farmers and state political leaders who say the prohibition had inadvertently caused more harm to the animals than good.
But some animal-rights activists decried the little-noticed provision, which sailed to passage earlier this month and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Nov. 18. And they vowed to keep the issue alive, pressing for an outright prohibition of horse slaughtering in the U.S.
At issue is a ban, first enacted in 2006, that prevented the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using federal funds to inspect any meat processing plants that slaughter horses. Plants that are not inspected by the USDA cannot ship meat across state lines, so the provision effectively ended domestic horse slaughter.
There is no U.S. market for the human consumption of horse meat. But it is seen as a delicacy overseas, especially in some European and Asian countries. In addition, horse meat has been used in the U.S. to feed zoo animals, because it's a good source of protein.
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I've eaten horse in France. My parents were living there, and it took some time for my mom to realize why the roasts from the store that said "Chevalier" were a little tough. It was the silhouette of the horse head on the store sign that finally made the light go off in her head.
It doesn't taste like chicken.
Slaughtering any animal is an issue that most people ignore. Steaks come from the grocery store and are somehow distantly connected to romantic herds of cattle roaming the plains. I don't know if that's bad or good, but it is naive. We just bought a quarter of beef. That's a quarter of a cow, a cow we knew, who was raised locally on grass - no grain. A few weeks ago it was killed, butchered, and a quarter of it now rests in our freezer. When we say grace at meals, it's has something to do with giving thanks to God for the gift of many lives that help nourish us: the crops and farmers, the workers and processors, and, most especially the life of a particular chicken, pig or cow. Maybe because of that intimacy, I do whatever I can to avoid Tyson and the factory farms that supply them and others like them.
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