Livestock Group Opposing Change to Slaughter Transport Rules

The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) issued a statement Jan. 7 indicating that the organization is not in support of the USDA's proposed rule on transporting horses. The LMA said the proposed rule, which would ban the use of double-decker trailers for slaughter-bound horses going to a stockyard, feedlot, or assembly point, sets up "an unauthorized administrative and enforcement nightmare for the equine industry and livestock markets."

For more on the proposed rule see USDA Proposing Change to Horse Slaughter Transport Regulations. The period for public comments on the proposed rule ended Jan. 7.

The LMA said the USDA does not have clear-cut authority to regulate equids that are not going directly to slaughter and is trying to expand the scope of current regulations. The group noted that horses sold at auction markets "are sold for a number of different purposes... (and) any attempt to manage or limit the trucking of horses to and from auction markets or other intermediate delivery points, in anticipation (of) but without full realization of what use they will eventually be put to, either before or after the sale, is without merit and goes beyond the scope of the law."

The LMA also noted that the USDA has few or no statistics on how frequently double-decker trucks are currently being used to move slaughter horses to intermediate assembly points.

"It is insufficient reason to enforce more regulation on the equine industry, livestock sales and so-called intermediate assembly points by stating in the proposed rule that the Department 'has received numerous reports of this situation (transporting horses to intermediate assembly points to circumvent the law) occurring,' " the LMA stated. "A number of our member markets have reported ... that in their experience very few of these trucks are in use today in transporting horses for any purpose."

Current USDA regulations pertaining to slaughter-bound horses only apply to horses being shipped directly to processing facilities. New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont have state laws banning the use of double-deckers to transport horses for any reason. Illinois lawmakers proposed similar legislation in that state.

"Until the agency has a better fix on the degree of the problem their ability to enforce this rule on the many versus a selective few, and its overall impact on the equine industry and allied businesses, the proposed rule should be withdrawn," the LMA concluded.

See the LMA Web site for the full text of the group's statement.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

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