HWAC is not aware of any horse processing plant closures or border-crossing issues as stated in the US based Equine Welfare Alliance media announcement on October 12. Following is HWAC’s assessment of the situation.
On Friday 12 October 2012 the Equine Welfare Alliance distributed a media release claiming, "US horses are no longer being accepted by Canadian horse slaughter plants." Since then HWAC has been working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to clarify the issue.
On 16 Oct 2012 we received an email from AAFC confirming that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has not changed its policies and directives regarding the entry of US horses intended for slaughter, nor were any instructions provided to CFIA operational staff or industry to refuse the entry of US horses intended for slaughter into Canada.
The AAFC representative stated, "While I cannot speak for decisions made by the industry, I understand that the information you learned of may have been prompted by a shipment of Canadian meat derived from US horses which was temporarily held at a port of entry in France. With the support of the Canadian Missions in France and the European Union, the CFIA contacted its regulatory counterpart, the European Union Directorate General for Health and Consumers (SANCO) to request the release of the shipment based on the existing arrangements agreed by both sides that allow Canadian horsemeat into the EU. Consequently, French authorities have revisited their actions and once again permit access for these products."
We understand there may be a requirement to amend the current export certificate, but at this time, CFIA officials have not been formally notified.
HWAC and International Equine Business Association calls for quick resolution of international horse industry crisis to prevent increased horse suffering
Yesterday, October 12, 2012, the international commerce in horses for processing from the United States to both Canada and Mexico was disrupted by an unannounced action of the European Union. Approximately 2,500 head of horses per week have been crossing the border to European Union regulated plants in Mexico per week, and an estimated 1,300 head to Canada in recent months.
This is a higher number than usual driven by the widespread drought, devastating fires, high cost of feed, and lack of pasture forage in the United States leaving horse owners with few options except the selling of horses. There is a strong worldwide demand for cheval. Cheval is the common name for meat produced from the equine species in the same way that beef refers to meat produced from cattle, and pork refers to meat from hogs.
In the United States, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is still finalizing the validation of science underlying their equine drug residue testing program, which they anticipate will be completed by the end of the year. Several U.S. based companies anticipate receiving the necessary grants of inspection to begin operation at that time providing a much needed humane option for the horse industry in the United States. Currently the only viable outlet is transportation outside of the U.S. to the E.U. regulated plants in Mexico or Canada.
Today, the leaders of the International Equine Business Association: Sue Wallis of the United States, Bill desBarres of Canada, and Olivier Kemseke representing Mexico, Argentina, and the European Union are issuing the following statement:
“The International Equine Business Association (IEBA), including it's partner the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC), and its members in the United States and Mexico who are businesses engaged in the provision of accurate information and education respecting the health and welfare of horses and the equine products trade, have been working to advance an industry leading Equine Identification, Tracking and Traceability system that provides a fully compliant, auditable data base that exceeds the standards of the European Union.”
“In consideration of the immediate welfare of some 48,000 horses in the next 3 months, it is notable that our organizations have sourced, contracted and facilitated the implementation of an internationally harmonized equine traceability system that can be fully utilized within the next 90 days in the U.S. and Canada. Major components similar to the industry driven IEBA Equine Quality Assurance Program in the United States, and the Equine Traceability Canada systems, are already in use in Mexico to assure all horses processed for food are uncontaminated, and that horses can be identified, tracked and traced in compliance with rules and regulation.”
To ensure the welfare of horses and avoid an international humanitarian and economic catastrophe, the International Equine Business Association joins with thousands of North American horse owners and businesses to call on all applicable government entities in North America and the European Union to work quickly to resolve this crisis as soon as possible. Times of worldwide economic and social hardship are exacerbated by regulatory actions that cause horrific, unnecessary animal suffering, destroy jobs, narrow economic opportunity, disrupt international commerce, and limit access to a sought after, affordable, high quality, and safe protein source for the world.