Canadian Plant Stops Processing Horses

A new quarantine rule is being blamed for shuttering a horse processing plant in Quebec, Canada, but some horse advocates believe the closure might not be good news for slaughter-bound equines from the United States.

A combination of legislation and court rulings shuttered the last U.S. horse processing plants in 2007. Since then U.S. horses have been exported for processing in Canada and Mexico.

A new rule which took effect March 31 requires that all horses imported from the United States into Canada for processing be held at Canadian feed lots for a minimum of six months. The regulation is intended to address food safety concerns expressed by European Union (EU) buyers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said, the Les Viandes de la Petite Nation (LPN) processing plant, in Quebec, announced April 12 that it would cease horse processing because the new EU rule affected profits. All other activities are still operating, a CFIA spokesperson said.

But while some equine welfare advocates welcomed the closure, they also believe that the horse processing industry will find a way to compensate.

"It is welcome news that the Quebec horse slaughter plant … has closed its doors due to regulations set out by the European Commission,” The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition said in a statement. “While it’s encouraging to know that the rules are indeed being followed, it is still concerning to know that thousands of horses will be victims in this 'market adjustment.'”

Meanwhile, Tawnee Preisner, founder of the Horse Plus Humane Society, which has locations across the United States, does not believe the closure will reduce the number of U.S. horses sold for processing.

“Auction prices may (fluctuate), but more horses will probably be sent to slaughter in Mexico,” she opined.

How long LPN's horse processing operations will remain closed is uncertain.

“The next steps will be determined by management at La Petite Nation,” a CFIA spokesperson said.

No one at LPN was available to comment on the closure or when the plant might resume processing horses.

In any case, long-time equine advocate Jerry Finch said the closure proves that regulation can influence the future of the horse processing industry.

“It looks as if the new EU regulations might actually have an effect,” he 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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