Oklahoma Governor Signs Horse Processing Bill

Horse processing is legal in Oklahoma now that Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation reversing a 50-year-old law that made horse slaughter illegal in that state.

Since 1963, horse slaughter for human consumption has been forbidden by Oklahoma state statute. Meanwhile, horse processing has not taken place anywhere in the United States since 2007 when a combination of legislation and court decisions shuttered the last remaining horse processing plants. Horse processing in the United States again became possible in 2012 when Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed legislation that did not specifically deny the USDA funding to carry out inspections at domestic horses processing plants. Since then, plant developments have been proposed in several states, but no U.S. horse processing plants are currently operating.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma State Rep. Skye McNiel introduced HB 1999, a bill to allow horse slaughter for human consumption in Oklahoma, but which prohibits the sale of horsemeat in Oklahoma. On March 26, the Oklahoma State Senate passed HR 1999 by a vote of 34-14.

On March 29, Fallin, governor of Oklahoma, signed HB1999 into law. In a written statement, Fallin said she signed the legislation in part because of the neglect of aged horses and the shipping of animals to foreign plants for slaughter “where they are processed in potentially inhumane conditions that are not regulated by the U.S. government.

“Those of us who care about the wellbeing of horses cannot be satisfied with a status quo that encourages abuse and neglect, or that rewards the potentially inhumane slaughter of animals in foreign countries,” Fallin’s statement said. “For that reason, I have … signed HB 1999, which would allow the humane, regulated processing of horses.”

Jo Deibel, executive director of the Pennsylvania-based Angel Acres Horse Haven rescue, which sponsors advertising billboards in several states— including Oklahoma—that bear an anti-slaughter message, disagreed with Fallin’s claim that domestic horse processing represents a humane alternative for horses at risk for neglect or export.

“There is no such thing as humane horse slaughter,” Deibel said.

HB 1999 goes into effect in Oklahoma on Nov. 1, 2013.

Meanwhile, horse processing remains banned by state statute in California, Illinois, and Texas.

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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