Oklahoma Horse Processing Bill Advances

A bill aimed at facilitating the establishment of the horse processing industry in Oklahoma is another step closer to becoming law after being passed by members of that state’s Senate committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Horse processing has not taken place in the United States since 2007 when a combination of legislation and court decisions shuttered the last remaining horse processing plants in Illinois and Texas. Currently horse slaughter for human consumption is prohibited by Oklahoma state statute. Commercial horse slaughter in the United States became possible again in 2012 when Congress passed legislation that did not specifically deny the USDA the funding to carry out inspections at domestic horses processing plants. Some Oklahoma lawmakers supported the resumption of horse processing in that state even before the federal funding ban was lifted. In 2010, Oklahoma legislators passed HCR 1045, a non-binding resolution instructing the state’s delegation in Washington, D.C. to oppose any federal legislation aimed at prohibiting the transport or processing of horses for human consumption.

Earlier this year, a pair of Oklahoma legislators introduced a pair of bills that would facilitate horse processing development in that state. HB 1999, introduced by Rep. Skye McNiel, would allow horse slaughter in Oklahoma, but prohibits the sale of horsemeat for human consumption in the state. SB 375, a separate Senate bill introduced by State Sen. Mark Allen, would allow horsemeat processed in Oklahoma to be sold for export to foreign markets only. On Feb. 20, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed HB 1999 by an 82-14 margin. On the same day, Oklahoma’s Senate passed SB 375 by a 38-6 vote. As a result, HB 1999 moved to the Senate for review while SB 375 moved to the Oklahoma House for consideration.

On March 18, members of the Oklahoma Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development unanimously passed HB 1999. The bill now moves on to the full Oklahoma Senate for consideration. Meanshile, SB 375 remains pending in the Oklahoma House Committee on Agriculture and Wildlife.

Some equine welfare advocates oppose the bill on grounds that horse processing is inhumane and unpopular in the United States, and that horse slaughter plants do not represent viable economic development in that state.

According to written reports, the Oklahoma Meat Co., LLC, in Washington, Okla., has applied for USDA Food Safety Inspection Service plant and horsemeat product inspections if the bills become law. No one at the Oklahoma Meat Co. was available for comment on the legislation.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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