There are many assumptions made about the scale of horse production in France, particularly in the UK where individuals want to ‘rescue’ horses from the abattoir. We regularly hear ‘rescue’ sites talking about the huge numbers of horses being transported in illegal conditions to Italy – indeed we once believed these tales too and it is only with considerable research that we found out the truth.
The official 2008 figures have recently been released and they make interesting reading:
- In 2008, French production of horses for meat recorded a sharp drop of almost 22% – in the official report this is contributed to the new regulations on transport and welfare, proof that the long-haul transportation campaigns ARE working. Lobbying has led to a change in the EU laws which in turn has led to a sharp decrease in the horses being transported long distances.
- Sales of horses for slaughter in Italy, France’s largest customer, also fell by 22% to only 6,408 heads in 2008.
- French exports of horse meat has increased slightly compared 2007 – a direct result of the ‘Hook not Hoof’ campaign.
- Sadly though, Italy would seem to prefer to source from Romania and Poland, the importation of Romanian meat horses has risen sharply (+40% vs 2007) with prices much weaker than those of other European countries. This is where the focus for future campaigns needs to be as the length of these journeys and the conditions in the trucks is far worse than seen from France (see the WHW investigative report filmed in 2008).
So next time someone tries to encourage you to spend over the odds to buy a horse from France destined for slaughter, suggest that they research the facts and work alongside reputable charities such as the WHW in Romania and Poland.
The full report (in French) can be found here.