Study of North Dakota horse slaughter plant endorsed
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP)--North Dakota's Senate has endorsed spending $50,000 for a study of whether a horse slaughterhouse would be workable in the state.
The proposal, which now goes to the House, requires that the money be matched by outside funding. It establishes a fee schedule to repay the state cash if a horse processing facility is ever built.
Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River, said the study's first objective would be to look at possible legal challenges. Congress is considering proposals that would outlaw horse slaughter for human consumption and make it illegal to transport the animals to any slaughterhouse.
Although Americans generally do not have a taste for horse meat, "there are many people in the world that do," Miller said. "This is a potential market. There is no reason why our country has to put ourselves at some sort of disadvantage."
Critics of the proposal say it is a waste of money, given the possibility that Congress will ban horse slaughtering in the United States. The last two remaining U.S. horse slaughter plants, in Texas and Illinois, were closed two years ago.
Aside from reserving $50,000 for the study, the legislation requires that any North Dakota horse processing facility pay $5 per horse into a fund to pay back the cost of the study.
After the money is repaid, equine programs at North Dakota State University and Dickinson State University would split 80 percent of the fee income, the legislation says. The remaining 20 percent would be set aside for equine research grants.
Miller said a slaughter plant would give horse owners a chance to recoup money for unwanted and unneeded horses.
"They could be utilized for protein supplement for people that are hungry, and could also provide money," Miller said. "If we can slaughter them, it can bring income in to North Dakota horse owners, and that's good for the rural economy."