Oklahoma Horse Slaughter Bills Advance

Two bills aimed at repealing Oklahoma’s ban on horse processing in the state are a step closer to becoming law after passing through their respective legislative houses by substantial margins.

Oklahoma iscurrently one of four states where state statute forbids horse slaughter for human consumption. California, Illinois, and Texas have similar legislative prohibitions.

Horse processing has not taken place in the U. S. since 2007 when a combination of legislation and court decisions shuttered the last remaining horse processing plants in Illinois and Texas.

Commercial U.S. horse slaughter became possible again in 2012 when Congress passed legislation that did not specifically deny the U.S. Department of Agriculture the funding to carry out inspections at domestic horses processing plants.

Some Oklahoma lawmakers have advocated for the resumption of horse processing in that state even before the federal funding ban was lifted. In 2010, Oklahoma legislators passed HCR1045, a no-binding resolution asking 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 bills that would facilitate horse processing development in that state. HB1999 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 only to international markets.

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.

HB1999 now moves to the Senate for review. SB375 moves to the House for consideration.

Some equine advocates have opposed the bills on grounds that horse processing plant development does not make good economic sense for the state.

SB375 sponsor Allen disagrees.

"I think this is good for the state of Oklahoma," Allen said.

Both bills remain pending as they continue to make their way through the legislature.

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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