Bill would allow horse slaughterhouses in Montana

by Bryan Salvage
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HELENA, MONT. — Last Friday, a House committee agreed with two state lawmakers that North Dakota should set aside money to study possibly opening an equine processing plant in that state. Now, a Montana legislator is also sponsoring a bill that would clear the way for a horse slaughterhouse in Montana, if investors want to build one, according to The Associated Press.

At present, the United States does not have a slaughterhouse in operation where horses are processed. In 2007, Cavel International Inc. closed its DeKalb, Ill., plant, which was the last operating horse slaughterhouse in the United States. Approximately 40,000 to 60,000 horses were slaughtered there annually. Most of the meat was exported to overseas customers. In 2007, two other U.S. horse slaughter plants, both in Texas, also closed. There are, however, facilities in Canada and Mexico where horses are slaughtered and processed.

Regarding Montana’s interest, Republican legislator Ed Butcher of Lewistown said doing the work stateside makes more sense. He added that such a facility would help people who need to dispose of horses and it would strengthen Montana's economy. The measure will be up for a hearing in a House committee on Feb. 12.

Meanwhile in Wyoming, the House has given preliminary approval to a measure requesting Congress not interfere with shipment and slaughter of unwanted horses. Finally, another bill pending in Congress would prohibit transporting horses across U.S. borders that would be killed for meat. That would remove Canada and Mexico as slaughter destinations.

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