The owners and managers of an equine packing plant in Illinois were interviewed, and their operation was observed in order to determine the nature of the horse meat trade, and to assess the residual value of horses as meat animals. All meat products were exported for human consumption in the European and Japanese markets. Belgium, France and The Netherlands were the primary consumer nations. Prices paid for horses in 1988 ranged from $.15 to $.47 per lb. of live weight and depended on size, muscle thickness and body condition. Seasonal variation in prices was found. The highest prices were paid for horses during the period of January through April. The lowest prices were paid for horses during October and November. The packing plant impacted the Illinois and surrounding Midwest horse industry by supplying a market for low-quality horses. In 1988, this company purchased 25,000 horses with little value other than as meat animals. It also provided employment to 85 full time workers at an average wage of $6.00 per hour. In addition, 5 commission buyers and 6 independent buyers gained employment as suppliers of horses to the plant.
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