The Year in Review


Happy New Year to one and all!



Dear Friends and EWA Members,


I am constantly reminded of the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times!" That certainly describes the past year.


As we enter a New Year, a time which should be one of peace and reflection, we find ourselves in a maelstrom of alarm calls over the imminent opening of the horse slaughter plants. But things are seldom as they seem, and virtually never as the AP reports them. So allow me to give my perspective. 


The stories invariably quote Attorney A. Blair Dunn as saying the houses are about to open. First it was to be before Christmas, and this week it is January 1st, or January 15th or some other date.  


The fact is, that the main reporter on these stories is usually AP's Geri Clausing, the very same reporter who insisted on sighting the GAO report long after we had shown her evidence that it was fraudulent. She also repeated claims last summer that the plants would be opening within a week. So remember what Mark Twain said, "If you don't read the newspapers, you are uninformed. If you do read them, then you are misinformed." 


I cannot assign a motive to the fact that Geri appears to print anything Dunn says without the least bit of fact checking, but she does. For example, when repeating his promise to open before Christmas, she should at very least have asked him how he planned to do this when he will not have a waste water discharge permit until at least February at best. There may be an answer, but the question needed to be asked. 


Likewise, another local reporter repeated de los Santos' claim to have a contract to supply horse meat to a Belgium country when Sanco (the EU food safety agency) has repeatedly confirmed that meat produced in the US and inspected by the USDA would not be eligible for importation into the EU because the USDA does not have an EU approved program for inspection. 


So, what is really going on?  


I can only speculate at the answer to that question, but here is my opinion. I believe that Dunn realizes that their dream slaughter plant is fading, and he is focusing instead on establishing damages the proposed operation has suffered as a result of the delays caused by litigation. Remember, FRER/HSUS had to post a bond to continue their injunction that kept the plant closed. Dunn wants that bond money, and to get it he will have to prove damages. 


Why do I believe that is the game afoot? In a recent article, de los Santos laid out the number of employees he was hiring, the contracts he had, and most tellingly of all his profit margin ($350/horse). I have been the CEO of one company and served on the board of another, and this kind of forward looking information is highly sensitive in the corporate world. A privately held company would never disclose such information without a good reason. 


Knowing this kind of thing would allow one's customers to know exactly how much they could squeeze the company in pricing negotiations, and it would allow competitors to understand the company's weaknesses and vulnerability. It would also tell competitors where to send their own sales forces. 


Yesterday there was an article quoting Dunn as saying that the New Mexico Attorney General's suit would be a waste of tax payer money because they would have to pay the company over $400,000 a month in damages.


So all of this is, in my opinion, an attempt to hype supposed damages and recoup some of their investment from the opposing groups. Of course, I must admit that I also recall the maxim "Never attribute to deviousness that which is adequately explained by stupidity." With Dunn and de los Santos, that is certainly a possibility. 


Most recently, an aide has claimed that a "special committee" (presumably a subcommittee of the agricultural budget conference committee) was planning to take the defunding language out of the Agriculture budget. Since this happened to us in 2011, it sounded completely in keeping with the way things have gone in the past. 


However, this time, the Agriculture Appropriations committees in the House and Senate have both passed budgets with the defunding language, and both passed by a super majority.  


Conference committees have taken almost unlimited powers in the past. For example it was a conference committee that inserted the Burns "Three Strikes" language into the Interior Budget, and another one that brought us the "Monsanto Protection Act", neither of which existed before the budgets went to conference.


This is all very confusing since we are now dealing with an Omnibus budget which replaces all of the individual agency budgets. I can't claim to know how everything will work as far as reconciliation, but I am assured that we are OK this time.


One way or the other, I believe we are near the end of horse slaughter. There are big things in the wings for the New Year and we have never had such powerful and determined allies in high places. So, without taking anything for granted, we at the EWA are already planning for the challenges in a post slaughter country. 


I want to close by saying that it has been a great pleasure working with all of you. Your selfless dedication to the plight of our blessed equines has continued to be my personal inspiration. 



Happy New Year, 


John Holland






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