Source: Huffington Post, by Tim Talley
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma's 50-year-old ban on horse slaughtering was lifted Friday when the governor signed a new law that will allow facilities to process and export horse meat, despite bitter opposition by animal rights activists.
Supporters argue that a horse slaughtering facility in Oklahoma will provide a humane alternative for aging or starving horses, many of which are abandoned in rural parts of the state by owners who can no longer afford to care for them. Gov. Mary Fallin also noted that horses are already being shipped out of the country, including to facilities in Mexico, where they are processed in potentially inhumane conditions.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 166,000 horses were sent to Canada and Mexico last year alone.
"In Oklahoma, as in other states, abuse is tragically common among horses that are reaching the end of their natural lives," the Republican governor said. "Those of us who care about the wellbeing of horses – and we all should – cannot be satisfied with a status quo that encourages abuse and neglect, or that rewards the potentially inhumane slaughter of animals in foreign countries." She noted that law strictly prohibits the selling of horse meat for human consumption in the U.S.
Similar efforts are under way in other states, but not without controversy. In New Mexico, a processing plant has been fighting the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than a year for approval to convert its former cattle slaughter operation into a horse slaughterhouse. In Nevada, state agriculture officials have discussed ways to muster support for the slaughter of free-roaming horses, stirring protests.
The Oklahoma legislation received bipartisan support and was approved by wide margins in both the state House and Senate. It also was backed by several agriculture organizations including the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association and American Farmers.
But animal rights groups fought hard against the plan, including the Humane Society of the United States. Cynthia Armstrong, the organization's Oklahoma state director, said she was disappointed.
"It's a very sad day for Oklahoma and the welfare of the horses that will be exposed to a facility like this," Armstrong said. "It's very regrettable."
Press Release today by Congressman Jim Moran, calling on USDA to Deny Horse Slaughter Facility Permits and for the agency to include slaughter ban in FY ’14 budget.
Specifically addressing Secretary Vilsack, Moran wrote, “I believe that you, consistent with your regulatory authority, should deny Valley Meat’s permit for horse slaughter inspections so further consideration can be given to the important responsibility of monitoring equine drug residues. To this end, I ask that USDA provide an official response to the petition for rulemaking to label horse meat as adulterated prior to issuing a grant of inspection. It is regrettable that Congress allowed the prohibition on federal funding for horse slaughter inspections to lapse. While I work to restore this ban, I strongly urge you to exercise all available options to prevent the resumption of this industry. I also stand ready and willing to work with you in developing a responsible plan for handling unwanted horses.”
Read Moran’s entire Press Release: http://moran.house.gov/press-release/moran-calls-usda-deny-horse-slaughter-facility-permits
Source: Sooner Poll, by Bill Shapard
A strong majority (66 percent) of Oklahoma likely voters opposes passage of
proposed legislation allowing for the slaughter of horses here in Oklahoma, and
of those that oppose, 88 percent strongly oppose the legislation, according to a
The Oklahoma legislature is currently considering two bills, House Bill 1999 and Senate Bill 375, which would allow for slaughter of horses here in Oklahoma for human consumption in other countries but would maintain a ban on the sale of horsemeat in the state.
A strong majority, 65.1 percent, of respondents in rural counties opposes the
legislation, despite claims by the horse slaughter proponents that rural
communities support it. Counties within the Tulsa MSA, 69.6 percent, and counties within the Oklahoma City MSA, 64.3 percent, also have high levels of opposition to horse slaughter.
Significant majorities of all political parties also oppose horse slaughter: 72.5 percent of Independents oppose this legislation, followed by 67.6 percent of Democrats and 63.4 percent of Republicans. Another strong majority, 60.5 percent, of conservative respondents, who make up more than half of all likely voters, is opposed to the horse slaughter legislation, as well as 74.7 percent of moderates.
When asked about having a horse slaughter operation in their community, an overwhelming majority, 72.3 percent, of likely voters is opposed, with 91.9 percent of these likely voters in strong opposition. Sixty-eight percent of rural likely voters oppose having a horse slaughter facility in their local community, followed by 74.6 percent of likely voters in the Tulsa metro area and
75.8 percent in the Oklahoma City metro.
A majority of likely voters, 54.1 percent, would be unlikely to vote to re-elect their senator or house representative if he or she voted in favor of this horse slaughter legislation regardless of whether or not it becomes law.
Voters were also asked about particular organizations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society of the United States, two groups opposed to horse slaughter, received combined favorability (strongly and somewhat favorable) of 69.5 percent and 64.4 percent, respectively, from likely voters. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, a group advocating for horse slaughter, had combined favorability among 63.4 percent of respondents.
SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, designed and administered this telephone survey, which was commissioned by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society
of the United States (HSUS). This study was conducted March 16-21, 2013 using live interviewers, with 452 likely voters in Oklahoma selected to participate at random using a dual frame of landlines and cell phones. Respondents in the
landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who was at home. In the cell sample, the person who answered the phone, provided that person was an adult 18 years of age or older, was asked the survey
questions. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.61 percent. The full Call Dispositions and Rate Calculations were calculated by SoonerPoll.com