Trent Lott on economics and horse slaughter

Thoroughbred horse, looking out stall window

This horse contributed more to the economy as a show horse than as an entree.

For an interesting new argument against horse slaughter, you’ll want to read this entry in The Hill’s Congress Blog. If you’ve never read The Hill, you probably weren’t an earnest journalism student with a debilitating interest in U.S. politics, and that’s okay, because it’s generally just wading through all sorts of House Resolutions and lobbyist nonsense. But this is a surprising article, with a surprising author:

Trent Lott.

Yes, Trent Lott, our former Senate majority leader, who resigned his seat following a controversial mutter that Strom Thurmond should have been elected president, despite being on the ticket as a member of the openly racist Dixiecrat party. Sometimes I wonder if he just said it to be nice. Or to curry favor. I don’t know. But it back-fired.

But Trent Lott may have just made quite a few new friends in the horse world, me included, with this insightful piece. Speaking of his son, who bought horses from a kill buyer and retrained them as polo ponies, selling them for a profit:

His experience showed me that live, active horses support an important infrastructure of jobs and economies in the United States. A live horse needs to be fed, groomed and trained, as well as receive vet care, among other things. This in turn creates and maintains a viable and enduring way of life in rural America. The sale of horses to killer-buyers in fact generates very little profit for the seller while simultaneously choking off the demand for the goods and services that other buyers would create.

This reminds me of a similar argument I’ve made regarding people who think that horse racing should not receive any sort of help from the government. Whether or not you believe that any business unit should be subsidized by federal or state dollars, to deny that the horse racing’s overall affect on the economy does not stretch far beyond the handle at the local racetrack is to be incredibly short-sighted. Who gets paid, when there are horses to be taken care of?

Farriers, grooms, veterinarians, feed store owners, hay farmers, tack stores, manufacturers of horse clothing, of saddlery, fencing supplies, building and home improvement stores, tractor companies, auto-supply stores… horse breeding, alone, while usually far from the urban centers that support (however poorly) racetracks, is a mainstay of many agricultural and rural communities. Livelihoods depend on the horse-racing industry, just as surely as any other. You just don’t see them; that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

And how much money do you spend every year on your horse? Even if your horse lives in your backyard and you don’t show? What are you contributing to the local and national economy every year? Whose livelihoods depend on your hobby, or your profession, or your obsession?

I support this legislation for three compelling reasons: Banning horse slaughter would save taxpayers millions of dollars every year, as it would eliminate a wasteful federal program that only serves to benefit a handful of foreign-owned companies; it would help foster and promote sustainable jobs in rural America; and it would end the needless suffering of more than 100,000 American horses each year, which are hauled across the United States to slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada to supply so‐called “high‐end” restaurants in France and Belgium.

Maybe there are people out there who don’t speak in the language of the modern American horse owner, who keep horses as pets and kiss them on their noses. That’s okay. Maybe there are people out there who don’t speak in the language of the rescuer, who thinks every living thing deserves a chance at, well, living. That’s okay. But come now. They all speak the language of money. Lott has written a compelling argument for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, and I, for one, appreciate it.




Filed under Media Coverage, Outside Sites, slaughter

8 responses to “Trent Lott on economics and horse slaughter

  1. Lois Keays

    BRILLIANT! Finally someone with the foresight to recognize there are other “economic variables” involved! use the same information to encourage the support of retirement/retraining and education in Canada…as well as the provincial regulators of Slot generated funding for Rural Economies!!!

  2. cj oakwood

    every product must have areal salvage value…….we need USA horse processing…period!

    • Good point. How’s this for salvage value? We’ll use the racing industry. Retire horses before they’re broken down and sell them for several thousand as riding horses.

      Incidentally, Apple shares are trading around $500 right now. What is the salvage value of a broken iPod?

  3. GEMO

    Get real people. Banning the Slaughter Houses has all but ruined the Horse Industry. People are left with no way out of the financial burden of horse ownership once the animal has become disabled. Regulations say you cannot bury a horse on your own property . . . so, what are people suppose to do with them? Every Rescue Organization you call is FULL, every Foster Home is FULL . . . can you not see the writing on the wall? How do the horses fend in the wild when a cougar runs one down for the dinner kill; do you think that being eaten alive is a fast death? It’s a natural food chain. Horses arn’t going to the slaughter houses for our dinner-table. If the meat goes overseas, who cares; if it goes for dog food, so what . . . it’s a food chain! Our Government does not support our horse fancy interests; it is up to each individual owner. With the economy the way it is, why should I be expected to spend what money I have to support my horse, when I need to feed myself? I don’t hear the same outcry for Cattle, Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, etc.; they are used as companion pets as well as any horse; but, reality is reality. There are far too many horses and not enough individual incomes to cover them and certainly no Grants. You cannot give a horse away these days; come-on get real people!!! Ban together and offer suggestions for a better way to get rid of the unwanted horses, if there is one; but, for right now, the Slaughter Houses are all we got.

    • So you’re saying you disagree with all of Mr. Lott’s economic principles laid out in his article?

    • Really? Then how come I was able to successfully place 10 elderly horses last month alone? Please make sure you have your rescue facts straight before claiming you can not give a horse away. Slaughter only is about making money for a very few select groups who want to be able to continue irresponsible breeding practices and have no concern for the well being of the animals, or to the people that are consuming their meat. And by the way, if you really knew about the human food chain, you would know that humans are born vegetarian, and eating animal flesh is a learned behavior, since we are not born with the enzymes to digest meat.

    • I can bury a horse on my property as long as I don’t bury it near a waterway. People would do well to check their local regulations before making the assumption they CAN’T bury on their property. Composting a carcass is also an option.

      Why would I want to dump my lame, disabled horse on someone else? It’s my responsibility and the responsible thing to do is have that animal humanely destroyed by a competent VETERINARIAN…not some minimum wage bozo with a captive bolt gun and no clue.

      The problem isn’t with regulation or permitting/banning horse slaughter, it’s 100% with people’s refusal to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. If you can’t afford to feed your horse and you can’t find a good home for it, it is NOT a responsible option to dump it at a slaughter plant. It’s a RESPONSIBLE option to have it humanely destroyed. Too many people are too coddled and spoiled and believe the government needs to “fix” this problem instead of stepping up to the plate, growing a pair and taking responsibility YOURSELF.

      All animals, whether they are food animals or companion animals, deserve to die humanely and fear-free. That is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to them. Period.

  4. Sue

    The claim that flooding the horse market (or any market) with too many horses (or any item) is good for prices has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I guess those high school dropouts missed the basic economics class about supply and demand. Kudos to Sen. Lott for making a sound argument. Horse slaughter has harmed the horse market by allowing boneheads to over breed horses and then dump them for a few bucks.