Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thoughts and policies according to Ax

Since it seems like all I do around here lately is bitch about the book, I thought I’d botch about something else today: the horse market. Or rather, lack thereof. It started watching the news last night. They ran a special report on the BLM mustangs, and granted, I don’t know much about the situation, but I do know it costs taxpayers money and that without a kill market for horses in this country, there is no alternative to make money from unwanted, crippled, or otherwise unusable horses. It even costs to dig a hole and put a horse in the ground! There is no way for anyone, government or private owner, to guarantee at least a minimal return per pound for the purchase of a horse. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing whoever worked to pass and actually passed the act not to allow horse slaughter in this country did not have an ag background. It might sound harsh, but farmers and ranchers, for the most part, understand better than most that you need a return on the investment you make on livestock. And with some livestock, it’s just some return, not even the breakeven price. Dad pointed out that if the mustangs could be slaughtered, the old, the sick, whatever, basically the undesirables, then the program would generate some income, the land could be managed easier, and there would be less reliance on people adopting horses. Horses are a huge expense, especially when the economy is in shambles. It’s not like a cat or a dog, a few hundred dollars a year, it’s a few hundred dollars a week.

I try to see the other side of the issue too. I can see why people get upset thinking about the slaughter of horses. Horses are amazing creatures, intelligent creatures, but the fact of the matter is that they are livestock. Cattle, in my opinion, are equally intelligent. I have cattle that I’d rather spend the afternoon with rather than my horse. Sheep are intelligent, in their own fashion. But horses, in our society, have fallen into a weird category in that they are not livestock in some parts of the country, but they aren’t house pets either. If cattle fell in the same category, more people would protest their slaughter as well, I would venture. We need a bottom line. That’s the plain truth of it. Horses are selling for a couple hundred dollars now and that’s no way to make a living. The sad thing is, you can’t even humanely dispose of a horse. I’ve heard many horror stories about people just leaving their horses to starve because they can’t get anyone to buy them and they have no other options for where to take them. Is that fair to the horse? Wouldn’t it be better for that animal to have a humane death in a slaughter plant than starve in its own backyard?

The moral of this rant: there isn’t one. I just wanted to talk about something other than the book. Hopefully it spawned some food for thought and doesn’t piss too many people off. This is my opinion from my perspective. Everyone is entitled to their own views and I’m not trying to stomp on that. It’s just that the farmer’s perspective is so rare in the larger scheme of things that I like to offer it up for contemplation once in awhile.