Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Horse Slaughter Supporters Respond to Naysayers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Horse Slaughter Supporters Respond to Naysayers

Article excerpt

Supporters of legislation that would end Oklahoma's 50-year horse slaughter ban rallied at the Oklahoma state Capitol on Wednesday even as a bill that would have the opposite effect was announced in Washington, D.C.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups were joined by state Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, and co-author of House Bill 1999, to reiterate intent to provide a humane, economical disposal option to farmers and ranchers with unwanted or old horses. Oklahoma currently bans the horse slaughter while federal law has allowed it since 2011 when Congress defunded regular inspections. Oklahoma is one of only four states that still ban the practice, including Texas, California and Illinois. The country's last horse slaughter plant in Illinois closed six years ago.

But industry pressure recently has forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to start inspections again and a company has asked for clearance to open a horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico in less than 60 days. In response on Capitol Hill, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D- La., and U.S. Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D- Ill., announced Wednesday their support of the Safeguard American Food Exports, or SAFE, Act now in the House. It would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. and even prohibit shipping them out of the country for the purpose of slaughter.

In Oklahoma, HB 1999 by McNiel and co-author state Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona, is moving through the Capitol alongside Senate Bill 375 by state Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, and state Rep. John Enns, R-Enid. The American Quarter Horse Association and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau have recently announced their support of the legislative proposals, which would also allow the opening of a facility to package horse meat for export; they would, however, still prohibit the sale of horse meat for human consumption.

"Such a facility is desperately needed as an outlet for a humane end to the life of our horses," said Terry Detrick, Oklahoma president of the American Farmers & Ranchers organization. "Horses that are not left to starve to death on the 'back 40' may be subjected to an even worse fate. …

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