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Governor Signs Horse Slaughter Ban

Springfield - Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation Thursday that would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The new law directly affects the operation of the Cavel International plant in DeKalb, the last remaining horse slaughterhouse in the United States, which ships horsemeat to Europe and Asia for human consumption. Jim Tucker, plant manager for the Belgium-based company, had no comment Thursday. Blagojevich’s approval wasn’t a surprise. He announced his support for the plan after an hour-long meeting in April with actress Bo Derek, who visited Springfield twice in recent years to lobby in favor of the ban. “It’s past time to stop slaughtering horses in Illinois and sending their meat overseas,” Blagojevich said in a prepared statement. “I’m proud to sign this law that finally puts an end to this practice.” The measure’s House sponsor praised the move. “I am grateful to my colleagues and the Governor for joining with me in ending this shameless slaughter of these beautiful animals for the sole purpose of ensuring fine dining in European restaurants,” said state Rep. Bob Molaro, D-Chicago. In a statement, Derek applauded the governor’s action. “My family hails from the state of Illinois and I know they would be proud of the actions taken on behalf of our horses by Governor Blagojevich, Representative Molaro and Senator (John) Cullerton.” But state Sen. Brad Burzynski, R-Clare, who represents DeKalb in the General Assembly, called the law “ridiculous.” “I’m pretty disappointed about it,” said Burzynski. “People need to be able to dispose of their animals in a financially responsible manner.” Burzynski said he hopes the plant, which employs about 48 workers and processes about 1,000 horses a week, can stay open by continuing to process horse meat, but not for human consumption. Violations of the new state law are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,500. The legislation is House Bill 1711. (Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or 217-789-0865)

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