Young Nebraska State Sen. Tyson Larson, 24, has big plans to promote horse slaughter and horsemeat for human consumption. First he wants the cash-strapped state to divert $200,000 from grain inspection to horse meat inspection. Then bill he introduced would make it a misdemeanor for the state’s two remaining horse rescue groups to turn away any of the state’s 100,000 unwanted horses, which would put them out of business.
No charity animal rescue operation can survive if it has to take every animal dumped on its doorstep. It ceases to be a charity and becomes a public service. The only kind of city dog shelters, for example, that take all dogs are those that have a mandate and budget from the city.
Larry Guyton, vice president of Epona Horse Rescue, says if the bill passed he would close down the rescue group the next day. Epona used to take in horses from well-meaning people who couldn’t afford them anymore. Now they mainly get animals government cruelty and neglect investigations. “We’ve got 130 acres. We’ve got 40 horses now. We rescue the ones we can,” he says. “They’re painting us with the same brush they paint Peta.”
The counties that send horses to the rescue group don’t have to pay to maintain the animals if the case drags on. When a farm struck his main barn a few months ago, he got donations from farmers and governments across the region. They could get a tax write-off for giving him old supplies that were not useful to them but that he and his horses really needed.
So, who is this Larson? Larson only graduated from college in 2008. TheBallot.org said he “barely meets the rule in the state constitution that a candidate must be a resident in a district for a year before representing it. Larson’s a former campaign aide for [conservative Republican Congressman] Adrian Smith, pro-death penalty and loves the flat income tax. We like his enthusiasm, but we are not sure he is ready to lead.” He fully answered a series of policy questions at VoteSmart, which puts him way to the right but not completely off the edge (he’d support abortion in cases of rape or incest and license and registration for guns).
In his official biography, his main experience is working for three Nebraska politicians while in college. He describes himself as “a successful small-business entrepreneur,” claiming he is “head of business operations and risk management for Art Research Technologies, a small art-consulting firm.” Unlike his official bio, that company says he used to work at Sotheby’s and that “as a member of the Business Intelligence Group, Tyson provided market analysis for over 20 departments.” Now he also does PR for rodeos and works as a substitute teacher. I’m just going to go out on a limb and guess that Jim Korkow, the rodeo contractor quoted in the North Platte Bulletin was one of his clients.
Korkow told the paper, seemingly thinking he was going to get sympathy, that he wants to take horses he’s used for years and send them to slaughter and get paid for their meat.“Each year, I have horses that are ready to retire. They are done,” he said. “I’m running a ranching rodeo operation, and the dammed thing is turning into a retirement home for old horses. Consequently, I just watch them here and no matter how much you feed them, you can’t help them. They deteriorate and lose muscle mass. Its saddening.”
Thing is, it’s perfectly legal and ethical–and sometimes morally necessary–for Korkow to euthanize the horses. He’d just have to pay for it instead of getting paid. Who does this guy’s PR? Oh…yeah, right.
Horse slaughter was effectively banned in 2006 and then, after the recession, a horse glut hit the country. Since then overbred horses are sold at auction, then trucked to Canada and Mexico, where they are treated far worse than they would be here, and eventually sold as meat in places like Japan or France.
Larson says he hopes to slaughter his own quarterhorses some day right in Nebraska. His bill would authorize the Department of Agriculture to hire a program administrator. The program “will initially be funded by $200,000 [over two years] from the Commercial Feed Administration Cash Fund and thereafter by use fees for the inspection services provided.” What’s the feed fund? That’s the tax that elevators and feed manufacturers pay per ton on feed for inspections. It’s only supposed to be used for feed inspections, but, according to the Nebraska Grain and Feed Association, it “has over NGF’s objections repeatedly been raided over the past several years by the legislature and diverted to certain unrelated programs or the general fund in times of a tight budget.”
Right now Nebraska has an $18 million agriculture department and a budget gap of $750 million along with $1.1 billion of cumulative debt. Do they really want to spend money so that horse owners can get paid for horsemeat instead of decently euthanizing old horses?
Where to See Animals in the Midwest