Willie Nelson Criticizes Horse Slaughter Bill

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Willie Nelson submitted an opinion piece to The Tennessean criticizing Rep. Frank Niceley for a bill that would encourage horse slaughtering operations.

Both men say they love horses and are concerned about cases of horses starving. The Humane Society rescued 84 starving horses and mules from a Cannon County farm on Thanksgiving Day last year.

Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, had previously criticized the singer of "Beer for My Horses" for his promotion of a bill in Congress that would both outlaw horse slaughter in the U.S. and prohibit horses from being taken to other countries to be killed.

Niceley's bill, which narrowly passed the House Budget Subcommittee 7-6 on Wednesday, also criticizes the practice of sending horses out of the country to be killed, but differs on what to do with the country's unwanted horses.

The bill states that "issues related to the humane handling and slaughter of surplus domestic horses are best addressed by proper state regulations and inspection and not by banning the humane slaughter of surplus domestic horses at the federal level."

Nelson's daughter and granddaughter expressed their opposition to the bill before the subcommittee.

"Slaughter promotes cruelty; it does not prevent it," daughter Amy Nelson said.

Raelyn Nelson, his granddaughter, told reporters outside the committee that Nelson has adopted 62 horses, "about 25 to 30 straight from slaughter."

Nelson's letter gives examples of how he believes unwanted horse should be dealt with.

"Affordable veterinary euthanasia and neutering programs have been set up; hay/feed relief programs have been created; and additional equine sanctuaries are in the works and protocol for their proper operation," he writes.

The bill he is promoting in Congress is called the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act and while it is pending, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors aren't allowed to complete the necessary examinations to license new plants. So there have been no horse processors operating in the U.S. for several years.

Niceley said he likes Nelson's music but he's wrong on horses.

"People like Willie have caused more horse pain and more suffering, and they're well intentioned," he said. "Oftentimes people with good intentions cause the most problems.

Nelson writes, "He (Niceley) wants folks to believe it is more humane to allow buyers to travel around our great country purchasing healthy, wanted horses then haul them to Tennessee to be slaughtered for human consumption. Who benefits: Foreign-owned companies and high-end diners overseas."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.


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