Nebraska Legislature Passes Processing Study Bill

An amended version of a Nebraska bill that could facilitate horse processing plant development in that state was passed by state lawmakers on May 5, according to a spokesman for bill sponsor Sen. Tyson Larson.

In its original version introduced in January, LB 305 would have established a state inspection program for plants that process meat and poultry for human consumption. The program would operate under USDA State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) Program requirements.

MPI programs operate in several states under cooperative agreement with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Under the agreement, participating states must enforce food safety requirements that meet or exceed those contained in the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Food products produced under the state inspections may not be distributed across state lines.

Larson said the bill would support existing plants that process grass-fed cattle, bison, elk, and ostrich, and would invite horse processing plant developers to the state.

The bill was later amended to authorize a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a state inspection program in Nebraska. The amended bill creates a Commercial Food Administration cash fund to accept general fund revenue to underwrite the study's cost. That amended version of LB 305 was passed today by state lawmakers, the spokesman said.

Under the measure, the study would examine costs and other resources necessary to establish a state meat and poultry inspection program, as well as identify actions necessary to implement such a program including necessary changes in state inspection and other agricultural laws. The study will also establish a fee-for-services schedule for meat and poultry inspections. The Nebraska State Department of Agriculture will report study results to legislators on or before Nov. 15, 2011.

Larson said establishing a state meat and poultry plant inspection program represents economic development opportunities for the state. Valerie Hinderlider, operator of the Break Heart Ranch horse rescue in Minden, Neb., does not believe the state will benefit from horse processing plant development.

Meanwhile, an amended version of LB 306, another bill sponsored by Larson, remains pending in the Senate's Agriculture Committee.

As originally introduced, LB 306 would have required equine rescue operators to accept and provide care for any horse brought to them by owners, law enforcement officers, or other authorities. If passed, violators would face criminal misdemeanor charges.

The bill was later amended to pertain specifically to equine welfare organizations having a gross annual revenue of $20 million or more, and have an office, shelter, or rescue facility in Nebraska.

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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