Friday, August 9, 2013

GAO Accused of Fraud as Horse Slaughter Plants Fight to Open

My friend Vickery Eckhoff has written another great article on the issue of horse slaughter.  This time she writes about the fraudulent GAO report that has been used as a reason to open horse slaughter plants again in the United States.  This is a GREAT article to share with legislators who have relied on the GAO report to make their decisions.  Thanks again Vickery, for standing up for horses and telling the TRUTH about horse slaughter!!  ~Declan

8/08/2013 @ 1:45PM 

Vickery Eckhoff, Contributor
Uncovering the underground horse meat trade since 2011.
As posted on Forbes

GAO Accused Of Fraud As Horse Slaughter Plants Fight To Open

The GAO chose data to show a 60% increase in horse abuse and neglect (red line) even though Colorado Dept. of Agriculture actually shows a decrease in abuse and neglect subsequent to the plant closings in 2007 (blue line).
A 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report came under fire last week for misrepresenting data that was used to push Congress to end a five-year ban on funding horse meat inspections.
In a new study, “How the GAO Deceived Congress About Horse Slaughter,” the Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) ties fraudulent GAO data on horse abuse and neglect to a campaign by three Congressmen to reinstate the low-margin, poorly regulated horse-slaughter industry, which lost funding for required USDA inspections and shut down in 2007 after a long and costly legal battle at the local, state and federal level.
The EWA is an umbrella organization representing 290 member organizations in 21 countries. The release of its study and an accompanying YouTube video coincides with a fight over the planned opening of two plants in New Mexico and Iowa, pending a federal court decision that could put them in business within a matter of weeks.
Several other plants are also seeking inspections permits from the USDA at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $400,000 per facility. The meat would be exported, except for some going to domestic zoos. It will not be available to U.S. diners, in any event.
GAO report 11-228 (entitled “Actions Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter”) was commissioned in 2010 by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and published in June, 2011. Within several months, the three Congressmen stripped out the defunding language from the 2012 agricultural appropriations bill during a conference committee session, citing the GAO report’s claim that a surge in horse abuse and neglect was tied to the plant closings.
But that’s not true. Horse slaughter didn’t cease when the U.S. plants closed; it simply moved over our borders. Regardless, horse abuse and neglect was a relatively small problem during that period that was actually in decline.
The GAO, however, cherry-picked data to create the appearance of a huge and widening horse welfare crisis. It then sold the U.S. Congress and the public on the idea that bringing horse slaughter plants back to the U.S. could curtail an epidemic of inhumane treatment of horses.
The Equine Welfare Alliance’s new study zeroes in on the only real statistic in the GAO report: a purported 60% rise in horse abuse and neglect in the state of Colorado between 2005-2009 that has since been brandished by legislators and echoed by news organizations as proof that a lack of domestic slaughter facilities causes horses to suffer immeasurably.
As the GAO report itself states, “Comprehensive, national data are lacking, but state, local government and animal welfare organizations report a rise in investigations for horse neglect and abuse since 2007. For example, Colorado data showed that investigations for horse neglect and abuse increased more than 60% from 975 in 2005 to 1,588 in 2009.”
But the plants closed in 2007, not 2005 and the GAO had access to data through 2010. “By fudging the dates, the GAO blamed two years of increasing abuse on something that had not even happened yet and conveniently got rid of one year of declining abuse by omitting 2010,” the EWA study states.

The GAO report ignored data showing that horse abuse and neglect declined in six states after the last U.S. slaughter plants closed in 2007.
Further, the GAO had access to data from five other states, which it did not include in the report, and all of it disagreed with the GAO’s claim that “state, local government and animal welfare organizations report a rise in investigations for horse neglect…”
In January, 2011, six months before the GAO report was released, former U.S. Congressman Charles Stenholm, a lobbyist for the powerful Washington D.C. law firm, Olsson, Frank, Weeda, announced at a Las Vegas conference dedicated to restoring the slaughter industry that the report would be favorable to them. The leak was first acknowledged and then refuted by the GAO...

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