BISMARCK, N.D. – Last Friday, despite federal pressure to ban horse slaughtering entirely, 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, according to The Bismarck Tribune. Rep. Rod Froelich, D-Selfridge, co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River.

This move will likely re-ignite animal-activists who scored a victory to eliminate horse-meat processing in May 2008 when the Supreme Court declined an appeal from the owners of a Cavel International Inc., horse-slaughtering plant in Illinois, who challenged an Illinois law prohibiting the killing of horses for human consumption. In 2007, that company closed its DeKalb, Ill., plant after a federal appeals court upheld the ban. Cavel executives urged the justices to step in to allow the facility to reopen.

The DeKalb plant was the last horse slaughterhouse in the United States. Approximately 40,000 to 60,000 horses were slaughtered there annually. Most of the meat was shipped to be eaten by overseas customers. In 2007, two other U.S. plants, both in Texas, also closed.

Meanwhile, North Dakota lawmakers on the House Agriculture Committee were told last week by ranchers, veterinarians and horse breeders that processing unwanted horses for meat is more humane and profitable than abandoning or euthanizing them. The proposed bill would set aside up to $75,000 in agriculture fuel-tax revenue for a study to see if North Dakota could feasibly and legally open a horse slaughterhouse.

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