Oklahoma is on track to become the first state to lift its own ban on horse slaughter since the U.S. government removed its prohibition in 2012.
Four states, California, Illinois, Texas, and Oklahoma, have state bans on slaughtering horses for commercial purposes. The Oklahoma Legislature appears to be embracing a pair of bills that will end the slaughter ban while continuing to prohibit the sale of horsemeat for human consumption in the state.
The bills were each adopted in their house of origin and sent over to the opposite chamber by wide margins.
Senate Bill (SB) 375 revokes a 1963 flat ban on the sale of horsemeat in Oklahoma by allowing horsemeat to be “exported internationally.” Horse sold for slaughter must be sold through livestock auctions and purchased by a livestock dealer.
House Bill (HB) 1999 would allow horses to be slaughtered in Oklahoma, but continue the existing domestic ban on sales of horsemeat for human consumption.
The exported product would have to be clearly labeled as “horsemeat.”
SB-375 passed out of the Oklahoma Senate 38-6 and HB-1999 cleared the House by a vote of 82-14. The chambers are now working on their opposites bills.
The first sign that Oklahoma might change its mind about horse slaughter came in 2010 when the Legislature sent a resolution to Congress, opposing federal bills prohibiting the transport or processing of horses for human consumption.
Abandonments of aging and starving horses have sharply increased in Oklahoma and other western states since last horse packinghouse closed more than seven years ago.
Congress not allowing USDA to do any equine inspections at slaughter was how the national ban was imposed. Now that the prohibition has been lifted, USDA inspection services can again be offered at equine slaughter operations.
An undetermined number of applications for equine inspection services are believed to be pending at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The Oklahoma Legislature, which was called to attention Feb. 4, does not adjourn until late May.© Food Safety News