New Bill Would Allow Horse Meat Processing In Oklahoma

Monday, February 18th 2013, 11:07 pm
By: News 9

At the capitol, a new bill would allow meat processing facilities to open in Oklahoma to pack and ship horse meat overseas. And it would be for human consumption.

It's meant to cut the number of abused and neglected horses across the state, but horse lovers are protesting the controversial proposal.

"He was going to put her down, and I said, I'll take her," said Debbie Alseth, Owner of Ridgecrest Equestrian Center.

Alseth knows all too well what's it's like to have to put down a horse you've grown to love.

"Usually in the eyes you can tell," said Alseth. "And they just kind of give up, yeah. They tell ya."

"There's a practical problem, There's a huge problem that everybody can agree with," said State Rep., Skye McNiel. "And what's happening, is those horses are being turned out into other peoples pastures, tied up to gates, the sheriff gets called."

In some cases, those horses end up at a boarding facilities like Ridgecrest. Rep. McNiel says since processing plants closed in 2006, there's been a 60-percent increase in abused, neglected, and starved horses.

"They have value to whomever their owner is, and they should have value when their done with that usefulness as a live animal," McNiel said.

McNiel says there's been a market for horse meat overseas for several years. In fact, she says at one point, the U.S. exported more than $42-million worth of horse meat annually.

"God didn't create the horse for human consumption, there has to be other ways to take care of horses that are no longer wanted, or no longer useful," Alseth said.

"There needs to be an end market for these horses," McNiel said.

The sale of horse meat for human consumption would still be prohibited in Oklahoma, if the law is passed. The bill is very close to reaching the floor for a vote.