Montana state senator proposes slaughterhouse


The shuttering of the last U.S. slaughterhouse in Illinois in 2007 and the tanking economy have created a glut of horses across the nation.  Horse rescues have been filled to capacity. BLM wild horse auctions have drawn almost no bidders. These days you can hardly give a horse away, let alone sell one.

Now comes the aptly named Montana State Sen. Ed Butcher, author of a bill that would pave the way for the construction of a horse slaughterhouse in his state. Butcher told the Billings Gazette the bill addresses an escalating problem of horse abandonment and cruelty. "Horses are being kicked out on the roads, left on the land," he told the paper.

A horse owner in the central Montana farm community of Winifred, Butcher says domestic slaughter makes more sense than sending horses to Canada and Mexico, where slaughterhouses cater to horse flesh lovers around the globe and where cruel treatment has drawn fire from the Humane Society of the United States and others. A bill pending in the U.S. Congress would prohibit the transport of horses for slaughter across U.S. borders.

Butcher's bill, HB418, is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 12 before the Montana House Agriculture Committee.

Anticipating controversy, Butcher included in the bill a clause which bans a halt or delay in slaughterhouse construction by prohibiting court injunctions against it.

Butcher called horse slaughter "an incredible industry for Montana," saying it would generate jobs slaughtering, butchering, packaging and shipping horsemeat for human and canine consumption.

People who want slaughter should have the option, Butcher said. "Not every horse is Trigger. There's a lot of these horses whose working days are done."

horse slaughter
Kenneth P. Larsh
Kenneth P. Larsh
Feb 15, 2009 05:44 PM
I owned a large ranch for over 50 years in Oklahoma before retiring to Montana. My daughter and husband have a ranch in Texas and are own a stock contractor business. WE understand the ends and outs of ranching and livestock. WE support Butcher's bill HB418. It is as necessary to the industry as a wrecking yard is to the car industry. Please, let's let good ole common sense come back to this country. It is more inhumane watching an old, toothless horse just waste away than to send it to slaughter.

No to horse slaughter
Lisa Peterson
Lisa Peterson
Feb 17, 2009 07:02 PM
There are more than two options here other than slaughter and neglect; it is called euthanasia. The analogy of a wrecking yard to the car industry is shameful. A horse is a living being, not a piece of junk to throw away.
horse slaughter
Feb 18, 2009 12:11 PM
A very sad but needed industry. As a horse lover myself it is hard to put down these beautiful animals any way you do it. The hard thing to remember is eather way once they are dead they are just a carcus. To euthinise cost a lot of money($200 or more), and then you have to pay to have them hauled off ($250 or more)or pay to have them burried. Or even worse, let them die slowly suffering all the way most the time starving because they dont have any teeth left to chew with. In economic times like this why not give their last days a purpose, help the people who paid for their livelyhood their whole life by not costing them more to dispose of a body that no longer works? That money could feed a lot of other animals that are healthy and do have purpose. Plus I don't know if you have looked at the price of dog food lately! When we dont produce things for ourselves we have it shipped in from other countries. Why ship in horse meat when we have the over abundance of horses with no purpose and could be producing our own. Its hard to face but thats the facts. Choosing to be emotionally attached to an animal that could bring our country some much needed industry is foolish and is what is making our country weak. Waste not, want not. It would be a waste to put a dead creature in the ground if something could come of it.
Do Montanan's really want this in their state?
Heidi Pfosch
Heidi Pfosch
Feb 18, 2009 04:31 PM
This is being sold to Montanan's as an industry that will help the state of Montana and Montanan's. That is far from the truth. Below is the letter from Former Mayor Karen Paula Bacon of Kaufman, TX where a horse slaughterhouse was operated by foreign investors. What I find particularly disturbing is a part of this bill that says "prohibiting a court from granting an injunction to stop or delay the construction of an equine slaughter or processing facility based on legal challenges or appeals of a permit, license, certificatr, or other approval issued in conjuction with environmental laws". If I read this correctly, they want to be able to pollute our land, water and air with no environmental constraints. The foreign company that operated in Kaufman, TX broke many, many environmental laws, and polluted at will. That is what this bill is proposing! Here is the letter from Karen:

Former Mayor Paula Bacon
City of Kaufman
Kaufman, TX 75142
RE: HB 418

February 12th, 2009

Dear Montana Agriculture Committee Members:

You will soon be asked to vote on the subject legislation regarding the commercial slaughter of American horses of which you probably have very little firsthand knowledge. No doubt you have heard from lobbyists and organizations who want you to support the practice, but before you do, you should ask yourself why the residents of Texas and Illinois worked so hard to rid their states of their horse slaughter plants. The answer may surprise you.

As a mayor who lived with this plague in her town for many years, who knows what the horse slaughter industry really is and what it does to a community please allow me to tell you what we experienced. The industry caused significant and long term hardship to my community which was home to Dallas Crown, one of the last three horse slaughter plants in the United States.

All three plants were foreign-owned, and since the market for horsemeat is entirely foreign, the industry will always be dominated by these foreign interests. The corporations involved in this industry have consistently proven themselves to be the worst possible corporate citizens.
The Dallas Crown horse slaughtering facility had been in operation in Kaufman since the late 70's and from the beginning had caused problems both economically and environmentally. I have listed some of the specific issues below.
I will gladly provide you with detailed reports from my former City Manager, Police Chief, and Public Works Director regarding odor and wastewater effluence violations at the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant in the City of Kaufman. The reports reference “decaying meat [which] provides a foul odor and is an attraction for vermin and carrion,” containers conveyed “uncovered and leaking liquids,” there are “significant foul odors during the daily monitoring of the area,” and “Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them.”

Therefore, in August of 2005, our City Council decided by unanimous decision to send the Dallas Crown issue to the Board of Adjustments for termination of their non-conforming use status. In March of 2006, the Board of Adjustments voted to order Dallas Crown closed, but the plant was able to tie the enforcement up in the courts until they were finally closed under state law in February of 2007.

Dallas Crown repeatedly described itself as a “good corporate citizen.” I will be straightforward in asserting that they are the very antithesis of such.
• Dallas Crown had a very long history of violations to their industrial waste permit, ‘loading’ the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant.
• Dallas Crown denied the City access to their property for wastewater testing beginning October 1, 2004 until July 6, 2005, despite requirement by city ordinance, city permit agreement, and court order.
• City staff reported that a $6 million upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant would be required even though the plant was planned and financed to last through 2015.
• Odor problems resulting from the outside storage of offal and hides over several days persisted not only in traditionally African-American neighborhood known as “Boggy Bottom”, but at the nearby Presbyterian Hospital, the daycare center, and surrounding areas.
• Transport of offal and fresh hides on City and state thoroughfares is conducted in leaking containers without covers.
• City documents reveal an extended history of efforts to have Dallas Crown address various environmental issues. Reports include descriptive language including such as “blood flowing east and west in the ditches from your plant,” “It has been over 45 days [it had been 59 days] and no apparent cleanup has occurred,” “Your system has not improved and subsequently it has gotten a lot worse,” “Words cannot express the seriousness” of recent violations and the “adverse effects on the wastewater treatment plant,” and “Please be sure trailers are secured before leaving your premises to prevent spills,” noting also “bones and blood laying in front of the facility,” problems with bones and parts in neighboring yards and the attraction of “dogs and other animals.”
• In response to 29 citations for wastewater violations, each accompanied by a potential fine of $2,000, Dallas Crown requested 29 separate jury trials, potentially causing yet another economic strain to the City’s budget. We could, of course, not afford to litigate in order to extract the fines
• Dallas Crown took 11 months to submit a mandatory “sludge control plan” to assist efficient operation of the wastewater treatment plant though City staff requested it orally and in writing many times.
• The City Manager advised me that the City would have to spend $70,000 in legal fees because of Dallas Crown problems, which was the entire legal budget for the fiscal year.
• During this period, Dallas Crown paid property taxes that were less than half of what the City spent on legal fees directly related to Dallas Crown violations.
• Generally, Dallas Crown has the economic ability to prevail, to exceed the constraints of the City’s budget.

Dallas Crown had a negative effect on the development of surrounding properties, and a horse slaughter plant is a stigma to the development of our city generally. I have since learned that these problems were mirrored at the other two plants. Fort Worth’s Beltex horse slaughter plant also violated Ft. Worth’s wastewater regulations several times, clogged sewer lines, and both spilled and pumped blood into a nearby creek (San Antonio Current, June 19, 2003 ). Texas state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, whose district includes Beltex, and Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, fought hard against legislation that would have legalized horse slaughter in Texas in 2003.
The horse slaughter plant in DeKalb , IL had a similar pattern. It was destroyed by fire in 2002, and rebuilt in 2004. It was charged and fined by the DeKalb Sanitary District almost every month from the reopening until its closing in 2007 under a new state law for consistently exceeding wastewater discharge guidelines. I can provide you with the documentation of those violations. Like Dallas Crown, Cavel refused to pay their fines for years.

During this time, I learned that an estimated $5 million in Federal funding was being spent annually to support three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants! And when the Dallas Crown tax records were exposed in the city’s legal struggle, we found that they had paid only $5 in federal taxes on a gross income of over $12,000,000!

More over, the parent company of Cavel has since moved its operations to Canada and continued to slaughter American horses. In Canada they have apparently become even more blatant, dumping huge untreated piles of entrails onto open ground and even using a tanker truck to discharge blood and refuse into a local river.

I have mentioned only the pollution issue, but this is but one negative aspect of horse slaughter. I have subsequently learned of a USDA document containing 900 pages of graphic photos that show the horrors that the horses were subject to. Behind the privacy fences of these plants, trucks arrived continuously and on those trucks was every form of inhumane violation one can imagine from mares birthing foals to horses with eyes dangling from their sockets and legs ripped from their bodies.

The more I learn about horse slaughter, the more certain I am: There is no justification for horse slaughter in this country. My city was little more than a door mat for a foreign-owned business that drained our resources, thwarted economic development and stigmatized our community. Americans don’t eat horses, and we don’t raise them for human consumption. There is no justification for spending American tax dollars to support this industry at the expense of Americans and our horses.


Former Mayor Paula Bacon
Kaufman, TX

This is not something I can support, and neither should you.
horse slaughter is NOT humane
Sarah Gill, Ph.D.
Sarah Gill, Ph.D.
Feb 26, 2009 06:36 PM
Butcher is an idiot. When the Horse slaughter plants were open in the USA 10% live vivisection of horses was acceptable "processing" standards. That means out of about 100,000 horses a year that were slaughtered, about 10,000 or more horses were hung up by a hind leg and CUT UP WHILE STILL ALIVE BY ELECTRIC CHAINSAW. No one can present slaughter as HUMANE, in any way, other than an idiot... these horses that have carried Montana backsides deserve better.
Breed fewer animals and take care of the ones you have. Own responsibly.
Horse Slaughter is Not Humane
Carol Upton
Carol Upton
Mar 11, 2009 09:51 PM
Exactly! Slaughter as it is currently carried out is completely inhumane, from the way the animals are transported to the horrible way they are treated right up until the end. These sensitive animals who have faithfully served you do not deserve this just because you have decided they no longer serve your purposes. If you live on a large ranch and can buy them and breed them in the first place, you can afford a humane euthanasia. Horse slaughter as it presently exists is criminal and there is really no way to defend it. Support your horse rescues instead!
Horse slaughter
Larissa P
Larissa P
Mar 12, 2009 12:52 PM
A great documentary to watch that dealt with the Dallas Crown operation in Kaufman, TX, is called Last of the Spanish Mustangs. It is mainly about a wild horse herd and the BLM/ Native American issues surrounding their conservation and controlling in Northwestern Arizona; but it also interviews slaughterhouse employees and the people of Kaufman and shows some rather disturbing footage. I have only seen this movie through Netflix in the instant section, but it is probably available elsewhere also.
Know your Facts
Apr 26, 2009 12:14 AM
People saying that horse slaughter is NOT humane have watched too many videos of the processing plants in Mexico and Canada. What was going on here in the US was federally regulated and was mostly under the supervision of vets and inspectors. We cannot control what happens beyond our borders, but we can in fact control what happens here in the US. The way that things are handled in other countries is not how is was done here.

Do some searches on this. Read up on the bills about the Transportation of horses to facilities outside of the US and find out why we are trying to stop it.[…]/AmicusBrief.pdf

The above link is on the AQHA website. Take a look at it. Go to some of the links on there. Get some more facts.
Don't make this personal.
Montana Dating
Montana Dating
May 06, 2009 11:38 AM
Is this plan consulted to the Animal welfare organization??

Putting an slaughter house is difficult, Butcher's bill, HB418 must be approved first before anything...

Anyway thanks for the news that shocked me..

Jenn papayer
Check this out
Montana Dating
Montana Dating
May 06, 2009 11:42 AM
Slaughter houses, will it give jobs to nearby residents??

It will be good but i guess must follow the regulations, specially on health and sanitation..

Jenn papayer
Response I got from the Crackpot Butcher
Kim Carnochan
Kim Carnochan
Feb 22, 2010 02:12 PM
I sent an email to Senator BUTCHER (so appropriate) about his proposed legislation and below is the response I got.


Unfortunately, You are too ignorant of facts about horses to probably even communicate with—but I will attempt to teach you what you did not learn in school.

 As a lifelong horse owner who has had great ones and horrible and dangerous horses, I do in fact understand the issue. Your statement about horses screaming illustrates your total stupidity—what is really sad is to watch an old horse lay and beat their head against the ground until they die (that is what really happens). Most countries in the world except for the US eat horse meat and it is actually one of the most nutritious meats. Horses are not companion animals like cats and dogs—they are livestock and owners in most states actually pay property taxes on them.

Not only my children, but my grandchildren who are avid horsemen actually came before the legislature and testified in favor of a horse processing plant because they understand it is actually good for those who own horses—but of course you ignorant Californians would not understand that! Over 80% of the people in Montana support the need for a horse processing plant because they understand the issues.

By the way I hope you do not eat hamburger because that is actually a real living cow which was ground up (growing up I actually had pet cows as well as pet chicken, but you know I still like eating the ones who were not pets!).

You poor uninformed children need to get out into the real world and learn not to show your ignorance!
Sen. Butcher