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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Agricultural Groups Voice Support for Horse Processing Legislation

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 17:24:22 CDT

Oklahoma Agricultural Groups Voice Support for Horse Processing Legislation
During a March 13 press conference at the state Capitol, a coalition of Oklahoma agriculture and wildlife groups announced their strong support for horse processing legislation now working its way through the Oklahoma legislature as House Bill 1999 and Senate Bill 375.

The coalition is organized and led by Oklahoma Farm Bureau, with the assistance of American Farmers and Ranchers. OFB President Mike Spradling said it was time for Oklahomans to stand up for their rights.

"Oklahoma Farm Bureau is here because we feel it is an attack on our private property rights. We own these animals. They are in our possession for their care and well-being. That's our business. That's our job.

"Oklahoma livestock and wildlife producers respect and care for animals," he said. "This legislation provides a humane solution to the challenge of abandoned, abused and otherwise neglected horses." (Spradling spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network's Farm Director Ron Hays at the state capitol. You can hear the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)

The bills have passed in their respective chambers and it looks like they will ultimately make their way to Governor Mary Fallin's desk for her consideration.

Spradling said that despite the overwhelming support of Oklahomans and their legislators, outside groups have waded into the fray in hopes of persuading Governor Fallin to veto the legislation. He said that he encourages Oklahomans to contact the governor's office to voice their support for the horse processing law.

Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers and Ranchers, said he was encouraged by the turnout at the capitol for the media conference. He said he believes a strong message was sent to animal activists who have gotten involved in the issue.

"I think it made a good statement to HSUS, 'By golly, you come to Oklahoma and start messing with us and we're a united front.'"

He said he believes the governor has heard the message that Oklahomans support allowing horse owners to care for their animals and having the option to dispose of them humanely. He said he believes Governor Fallin will ultimately sign the legislation when it makes it to her desk.

"I've had people ask me, 'Where's the governor on this?' It's probably a pretty good time for the governor to lay behind a log and let the rest of us kind of take the arrows, but I think she'll come through when we need her to."

In a joint statement, the farm groups said they support HB 1999 by Rep. Skye McNiel and Sen. Eddie Fields and SB 375 by Sen. Mark Allen and Rep. John Enns. These bills will allow horse processing within the state of Oklahoma; however, horsemeat for human consumption may be sold only on the international market.   

Horses are defined as livestock under Oklahoma law. Horse processing is already happening, but the U.S. horses are being shipped to Canada or Mexico. A General Accounting Office analysis showed U.S. horses intended for slaughter in Canada or Mexico travel significantly greater distances to reach their final destination, where they are not covered by humane slaughter protections.   

The American Association of Equine Practitioners recognizes the processing of unwanted horses is currently a necessary aspect of the equine industry, as it provides a humane alternative to allowing the horse to continue a life of discomfort and pain and possibly inadequate care or abandonment.

In addition to Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the coalition includes American Farmers and Ranchers, Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Oklahoma Pork Council, Livestock Marketing Association, The Poultry Federation, Whitetails of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Wildlife Management Association and Oklahoma Cotton Council.



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