Horsemeat Prank Raises BLM Ire

A Florida meat company has raised the ire of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after an April Fools' Day prank went awry.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said that on April 1, the Certified Steak and Seafood Company of Jacksonville, Fla., posted a press release on a public relations sharing website site claiming that the firm had a contract with the BLM to sell horsemeat. The 1971Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act makes it unlawful to sell wild horses for processing for human consumption. Gorey said that the BLM became aware of the posting when the general public called and emailed the agency inquiring about the contents of the press release.

Kevin Cook, director of Certified Steak and Seafood, said that the press release was intended to use April Fools' Day to draw the public’s interest to horse processing for human consumption and to the Safe Guard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act. In March, the act was introduced into the U.S. Senate as S 541 and in the U.S. House of Representatives as HR 1094; If passed, the bipartisan legislation would outlaw the export of horses for processing in Mexico and Canada, as well as outlaw the export of U.S.-produced horsemeat for sale in foreign markets. Cook said that the portion of the statement that referenced the BLM was included in the initial draft of the press release, but was later removed from the final document.

“Somehow, the draft with the BLM mentioned in it … was posted on the (public relations) website,” Cook said. “It was a clerical error.”

Cook said that once discovered online, the press release claiming the contract with the BLM was immediately withdrawn. A statement was subsequently posted on the company’s website explaining there is no horsemeat contract with the BLM.

On April 4, the BLM issued a statement condemning the release.

“The BLM does not sell or send wild horses to slaughterhouse or ‘kill buyers,’” the BLM’s statement said. “The agency is committed to protecting the well-being of wild horse and burros both on and off the range.”

The statement also asked the public to inform the agency about any sale of wild horses to a slaughterhouse or to so-called kill buyers.

“Law enforcement will investigate reports as warranted,” the statement said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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