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Ag committee's new alliances

DANIEL LOOKER 05/16/2013 @ 11:31am Business Editor

Just before the House Agriculture Committee finished debating its farm bill late Wednesday night, a freshman Democrat on the committee, Michelle Lujan Grisham, spoke about an amendment she was withdrawing that would have reinstituted a ban on horse slaughter in the U.S.

Lujan Grisham, whose district includes Albuquerque, spoke about recent scandals in Europe where horse meat was improperly blended with beef hamburger, and she pointed out that horses in this country aren't raised for meat and can have contaminants dangerous to human health. She also wanted the ban for humane reasons.

Even though Grisham had given up on getting her idea passed, Republican committee member Kristi Noem was ready with a rebuttal. She, too, loves horses, she said. They're used on her family's working ranch. But a Government Accountability Office report on the ban on horse slaughter showed it had been a disaster, encouraging abandonment of old animals. Horses were instead slaughtered in Mexico and Canada.

"Being starved, abandoned, and trucked thousands of miles to Canada and Mexico, that's anything but humane," Noem said.

It's the kind of dispute many expect of the Ag Committee these days, where a new crop of conservative Republicans faces equally new urban Democrats on the Committee. Grisham was elected to Congress in 2012, just two years after Noem arrived.

Yet, the committee can just as easily confound conventional wisdom and, sometimes, its leaders.

Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) spoke against a proposal from Kurt Schrader, an Oregon Democrat, who wanted to offer organic farmers and ranchers a chance to have checkoffs for organic products.

Lucas said that checkoffs normally promote a specific product such as pork or beef, not a process of production like organic farming.

Other members pointed out that the organic trade groups often disparage conventional agriculture.

Schrader said USDA rules would prohibit an organic checkoff from attacking conventional ag.

"You make the point about not disparaging, but how do I present my organic pork without disparaging my nonorganic pork?" Lucas asked proponents of the new checkoff.

Wisconsin Republican Reid Ribble, elected to Congress in 2010, joined Schrader in pushing for the checkoff.

"I'm always struck with some of the folks on my side of the aisle who have issues with organic," said Ribble, who praised organic farmers as entrepreneurial and organic foods as an important, growing sector of the ag economy. "This is something we ought to be applauding, not condemning."

After a long debate, Lucas and other veterans of the committee found themselves on the losing side. Democrats and several Republicans backed the pro-organic measure 29 to 17. It doesn't automatically set up an organic checkoff. It would give USDA authority to start one if organic farmers and ranchers request it.

As debate over amendments continued for an hour or two longer than expected, Lucas didn't object when Austin Scott (R-GA) offered a proposal to add "the products of natural stone" to the list of approved commodities for USDA-supervised checkoffs.

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Banning Horse Slaughter in the U.S. 05/18/2013 @ 4:10pm Congresswoman Michelle Lujan-Grisham is right to want to have horse slaughter banned in the U.S. It was banned in 2006 for many valid reasons and should have stayed that way. But, once again, the "dirty" back-door dealings of 3 Senators at the11th hour changed that in the 2012 FY budget. It is that kind of bad conduct that makes Americans distrust and condemn their elected officials. The pro-slaughter propaganda spouted by Republican Kristi Noem about the increasing numbers of unwanted horses after the plants closed in 2006 is totally used out of context and from an extremely flawed GAO Report. In 2006-2007, we were entering one of the worst economic crisis in our nation's history. This is what had a direct impact on the number of horses that were considered unwanted. Remember, horse slaughter was still an option as horses from the U.S. were being sent to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. So, closing the plants in the U.S. did nothing to support increased numbers of unwanted horses. Also, most of the "abandoned" horses were a result of killer buyers turning horses rejected for slaughter loose at the Mexican border. Abuse and neglect are not a result of whether or not we have horse slaughter, it is due to the fluctuations in our economy and is isolated and individual in nature, not the norm. The majority of Americans are strongly opposed to horse slaughter returning to the U.S. We need people in office to listen to us and abide by our requests since they, in fact, represent "we the people" and work for "us" not "them and their special interest groups." Get your facts straight before you speak and ban horse slaughter in the U.S. to encourage responsible horse ownership and breeding practices and rid the unwanted horse problems that horse slaughter condones and promotes today.

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How many abandoned horses estimated in GAO report? 05/18/2013 @ 1:01pm NONE. Because, as GAO states on p. 2, "national data is lacking." What GAO does have are anecdotal comments by state veterinarians commenting on horse welfare in the wake of the 2007 economic crisis. That occurred at the same time that the plants closed. And why did the veterinarians comment? Because "national data is lacking." How did Kristi Noem get elected without understanding the 2007 economic crisis' impact on the welfare of people and animals? And can you trust an elected official who goes around misleading the public about what's in government reports?

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Banning Horse Slaughter 05/16/2013 @ 1:04pm What does Michelle Lujan Grisham mean withdrawing an amendment on horse slaughter BAN!?!? Please tell me Kristi Noem does NOT really believe in ALL the unwanted horses or abused because of the GAO report, it is not even a proven justifiable fact, the report is a farce and even THAT report agreed on Banning horse slaughter...... Is she just not really knowledgeable or has she been bought too, we have had slaughter here or there for what 20 30 years think it's working,NO ,it promotes over Breeding, it promotes neglect, It promotes Corrupt dealings ALL driven by GREED, supply and demand is she really, honestly THAT STUPID?? I hate saying that but REALLY, what is going on in this country that the American's 80% of us do not want this do not need it and OUR politicians don't give a rats AS- what we want doesn't matter AT ALL.... Everything we humans touch we KILL & DESTROY,,, IF this slaughter takes place this will be another nightmare JUST LIKE BEFORE did we NOT learn anything from the past, guess not since they seem to want to go down that same road again, How frigg'en STUPID is that HONESTLY>>>>>> YUP GOOD times ahead unbelievable !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Scary is what it is..

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