Target: Romanian Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development Victor-Viorel Ponta
Goal: Repeal the laws barring horses from public roadways in Romania in order to save them from being sold to slaughterhouses
The recent attention given to the horse meat mislabeling scandals within the European Union left many feeling that the back-door horse meat processing industry had been effectively wiped out. This is sadly not the case, as Romania is still producing well over 14,000 tons of horse meat every year for the express purpose of exportation to the rest of Europe as well as overseas. This massive volume of meat belies an industry still thriving despite of the appearance of a crackdown.
Laws enacted by the Romanian government over the last four years have exacerbated the problem considerably. In that time the Romanian government has banned horse owners from riding on public roads, as well incentivized the selling of horses by long-time owners. This, coupled with the plummeting average income of Romanian citizens has resulted in thousands of horses being starved and sent to slaughter annually. This meat still finds its way into entirely undesired areas such as frozen dinners and other forms of low-budget prepackaged meat.
This is the unfortunately one of the only economic means of survival many impoverished citizens of Romania have. Laws banning horse activity along public roads in cities and towns have removed a valuable working tool intrinsic to Romanian life and replaced it with an animal of high upkeep cost and minimal functional value, given that they can no longer serve as draft animals pulling cartloads of goods in and out of town.
The only way the Romanian horse-meat market is going to change is with a repeal of the 2007 law barring horses from public roads. Repeal this law and the population will no longer have cause to sell these animals at cut rates to abattoirs and slaughterhouses. Give the Romanian population back its working horses and you remove several thousand tons of horse meat from European markets every year. This benefits everyone except those profiteering from the illicit trade.
Dear Minister Ponta,
Romanian horse meat finding its way into European and other overseas markets still presents a significant problem despite the attention given to the back-door horse meat industry following the recent media coverage it has been afforded. Romania still produces 14,000 tons of horse meat every year to for export into the rest of Europe as well as overseas. The continent-wide crackdown has thus far barely made a dent in the still thriving industry, especially within Romania’s borders.
A major contributory component has been Romanian laws enacted over the past few years. These laws, which have served to ban horses and horse-drawn carts from public roadways as well as incentivize the selling of horses by long-time owners, have given Romanian citizens far too much motivation to sell rather than keep their horses. These citizens already find themselves trapped by a plummeting average income that rates as Romania’s lowest in decades. When a poor economic situation is paired with a devaluation of the horse as a valuable working animal, many have no recourse but to sell their animals for whatever money they can glean.
There is only one thing that can significantly reduce the volume of Romanian horse meat going to market, a repeal of all laws that have been enacted since 2007 prohibiting horses along public roads. These animals would never be going to slaughterhouses and abattoirs if they could once again become able to perform tasks that have been intrinsic to Romanian life for generations. These animals must be protected. The only way to accomplish this is going to be to return purpose and value to these animals, which can only be accomplished when they can again legally occupy public roads.
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