Despite having veterinarians and nearly every major horse, cattle, swine and ag organization in the U.S. opposed to it, H.R. 503, "The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act," has a very good chance of passing. It's an issue with serious, long-term consequences for the horse industry and all livestock production. It's vital producers let their elected officials know their position, regardless of how they side on the issue.

As Steve Dittmer of the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation writes this week: "This issue highlights something the livestock industries must come to grips with. The public increasingly views production animal agriculture with the same attitude it views the critter sitting next to them on the couch - a dog or cat they consider 'family.' This blurring of the line between humans and animals - silly and incomprehensible to cattlemen who handle production livestock every day - poses a potentially fatal threat to livestock production."

These folks chip away. The veal, hog and poultry industries have been on the front lines, but our turn will come. The goal is to gradually change and alter people's perception of livestock production for food.

My kids watch basically one channel on TV, and that's Disney. Recently I sat down with them and spent an hour watching two programs. In both, the anti-meat message was a central theme.

Much like the war on terrorism, people are debating if there really is a war, or if it's a battle we should fight. Meanwhile, the opposition long ago decided it is a war, and they have one goal in mind - the end of western civilization and the end of livestock production.

This battle is something we must, as an industry, come to grips with. In both cases, the other sides' success is dependent on the fact it constitutes a holy crusade for them while we dismiss them as a lunatic fringe that can't possibly have the agenda they claim to espouse. Despite the hundreds of e-mails to the contrary, I love my horses, too.
-- Troy Marshall