When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town: Economic Growth and Community Image


Thin Gray Line

by JANE ALLIN | March 2010

Thin Gray Line

Contrary to what some pro-horse slaughter proponents say, horse slaughter facilities trigger negative economic growth for the communities in which they are situated. This is far-reaching and insidious. The USDA states that profits from horse slaughter are negligible. “It is entirely foreign owned, and pays no corporate taxes or export tariffs. The horse slaughter industry is economically insignificant.”

Comments from Paula Bacon, former Mayor of Kaufman, TX, home of Dallas Crown, elucidate the issues. Bacon was vigilant in underscoring the operation’s copious environmental violations and subsequent negative impact upon the community. Persistent and tireless lobbying against the plant in support of the health and welfare of the community as well as the horses finally lead to the unanimous decision by the City’s judicial board to close the plant.

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” . . . . “the corporations involved in this industry have consistently proven themselves to be the worst possible corporate citizens” ….. “the industry caused significant and long term hardship to my community.”

“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!

“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 doormat 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.”

Dallas Crown had numerous, repeated and unresolved violations to their industrial waste permit – denying the City access to their property for wastewater testing despite requirement by city ordinance, city permit agreement, and court order as well as overloading the wastewater treatment plant capacity among other serious infractions. Furthermore, in order to accommodate the water generated by the operation, city staff reported that a $6 million upgrade would be required even though it had been financed to last through to 2015.

Some individuals may still be unaware that horse meat, except in extremely rare instances, is not consumed in the US.

As with the Dallas Crown Corporation, foreign-owned slaughterhouses formerly in operation paid little to no taxes to the communities in which they existed. Any profits were repatriated to European owners who garnered significant benefits through the inexpensive purchase of American horses by “killer buyers” at livestock auctions; horse meat sells for $20 /lb or more in most foreign countries. Furthermore, given that agricultural production represents 1.2% of the GDP and only 0.6% of employment nation-wide, building a horse slaughtering facility has no significant impact on economic growth but simply serves to whet the palates of European and Asian epicureans.

Many horse slaughter plants employ illegal immigrants and ex-felons who have committed violent crimes. The farmed-animal industry, horse slaughter included, deliberately recruits immigrants because they will accept low wages and can be easily manipulated for fear of losing their jobs. Their willingness to accept low wages has the potential to drive down wages in the communities that support them.

Furthermore, animal processing facilities are one of the most dangerous places in America to work. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly one in three slaughterhouse workers suffers from illness or injury, compared to one in 10 workers in other manufacturing jobs.

That said, several studies show that “more than half of the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants are uninsured (out of a total of 47 million uninsured people in the U.S.) and thus likely to use public emergency rooms that treat everyone regardless of ability to pay.” This has the capacity to put a strenuous burden on local government budgets and potentially lead to significant compensation claims that could deplete state resources.

What’s more, the social consequences endured by several towns in the mid-west that have supported such industries are appalling.

According to researcher Amy Fitzgerald, “current statistics on whether slaughterhouses make good neighbors are a fait accompli. The documented crime increases include a 130% increase in violent crimes in Finney County, Kansas (Broadway 2000) and a 63% increase in monthly police bookings in Lexington, Nebraska (Gouveia and Stull 1995). Increases in crime have also been observed in at least one Canadian town to date: the town of Brooks, Alberta witnessed a 70% increase in reported crime.”

Regardless of what pro-slaughter groups claim, the evidence is unmistakable. “Low paying wages, increased haphazard populations without stable economic anchors, split up families, and the uneducated unskilled labor force, are not the kinds of dividends any community needs. Cranking up horse slaughter plants in times of economic necessity shows about as much ingenuity as legalizing bordellos. The cure is worse than the disease.

When compared to other dirty, low paying jobs experts portray the industry as uniquely different in terms of spawning societal chaos . . . . “Dis-confirming those theories and finding unique effects of slaughterhouse employment would point to the alternative hypothesis as a possible explanation: that the type of work undertaken in slaughterhouses contributes to the social disruption observed.

Research by Anderson, Patterson and Spiegel corroborates this hypothesis. Unlike other low-paying routinely dangerous industrial jobs, they advise that slaughterhouses are fundamentally atypical. That is, “the correlation between dismembering animals and victimization of less powerful human groups such as women and children is clear and bears itself out in increased domestic violence in communities surrounding slaughterhouses.

Thin Gray Line

Sources and Notes:– “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town” is a 24-page, fully-referenced document for use in lobbying against horse slaughter. We are serializing the document in five parts on Tuesday’s Horse to educate the public about the significant negative impacts should horse slaughter come to their community.

Access “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town” in its entirety for lobbying purposes here. pdf

© Int’l Fund for Horses

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