Fee-For-Service Plan Implemented
by: Chad Mendell, Staff Writer
March 2006 Article # 6687,
The nation's three horsemeat-processing plants began paying USDA employees on March 10 to conduct pre-slaughter inspections of horses. The highly debated fee-for-service program allows the plants to continue processing despite the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations bill, which eliminated federal funding for the inspectors.
The plants will pay each inspector $43.64 an hour, plus overtime and holiday pay, as they already do under an existing pay system for exotic animals. The inspections are estimated to cost each plant from $22,000 to $36,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in October.
Slaughter opponents tried to prevent the USDA from providing the fee-for-service inspections by filing a lawsuit against the agency and filing for a temporary injunction to suspend horse slaughter until the suit could be settled. The courts have yet to rule on either case. For more information see http://www.TheHorse.com/viewarticle.aspx?ID=6665.
Several animal rights groups protested the USDA's action by sending a convoy of 20 empty horse trailers to Washington, D.C., which they said represented horses going to slaughter...[read more]