Oklahoma's OK with horse slaughter
March 29th, 2013
10:00 PM ET
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Is the United States closer to allowing horse meat production? On Friday, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed the Oklahoma Meat Inspection Act, ending the prohibition on horse meat processing for export in Oklahoma. House Bill 1999, sponsored by state legislators Rep. Skye McNeil and Sen. Eddie Fields, passed 82-14 in the House and 32-14 in the Senate.

While the sale of horse meat for human consumption would still be off the table in Oklahoma, on November 1, 2013, the state will join the 46 others that allow equine slaughter. However, no states have processed horse meat since federal action in 2007, and bills pending in Congress would prohibit horse slaughter.

Advocates for the Oklahoma legislation said it's in the best interest of animals that would otherwise be abused, neglected, starved or sent to Canada and Mexico to meet a painful end in an unregulated plant.

Fallin said in a statement, "Those of us who care about the well-being 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."

A Government Accountability Office report found that after domestic horse slaughter ceased in 2007 when Congress stopped funding horse meat processing inspections, there was a 60% increase in mistreated horses. Additionally, from 2006 through 2010, U.S. horse exports for slaughter increased by 148% to Canada and 660% to Mexico, respectively. In 2010, the nearly 138,000 U.S. horses exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter was equal to the number of horses that were previously slaughtered domestically.

According to that same report, a 2007 proposed rule that would have more closely regulated the transport of horses to slaughtering facilities in Canada and Mexico was delayed in its final stages, preventing the USDA from being able to protect them. U.S. Department of Agriculture records show that in 2012 more than 166,000 horses were sent to Canada and Mexico for processing.

Should horse processing facilities eventually be allowed to operate in Oklahoma, Fallin, a Republican, said her administration would work with the Department of Agriculture to make sure they are run appropriately and lawfully, and not present a burden or hazard to the community. Cities, counties and municipalities opposing the measure could still block local construction and operation.

McNeil has said that some of the bill's greatest support comes from rural residents who see the problem of horse population management "up close ... when irresponsible owners decide they can no longer take care of their horses."

There are currently no U.S. establishments authorized to slaughter horses, but several companies, including New Mexico's Valley Meat, have requested that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service re-establish inspection and inspector training. Companies would need to complete necessary technical requirements to be compliant with federal guidelines before beginning operation.

Earlier this month, Louisiana U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, which would not only prohibit horse slaughter operations in the United States, but also end exports to other countries. A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois.

"Horses have been raised for sport, transport, security and companionship, but never for slaughter and consumption," Landrieu said. "There are very few regulations on the drugs given to horses, and we cannot risk introducing dangerously toxic meat into our food supply here at home or abroad. We must stop the slaughter of these beloved animals and protect the public's health. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this important legislation."

The debate comes after a recent European scandal in which horse meat, fraudulently labeled as beef, was found in consumer food products across multiple countries.

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soundoff (245 Responses)
  1. Tommy Lee

    Horse slaughter is merely a reward for criminals and irresponsible people.. Lying to the public that slaughter will stop abuse and neglect is a laughing joke..

    Wake up this is an evil business that is NOT needed. With no competition in the US. these pro slaughter morons wants us tax payers to fork up the cost of inspectors which will cost the tax payer $5 Million dollars a year..

    Horse slaughter has never been humane USDA reports have already shown that according to a freedom of information acts.

    Boycott any insurance with FARM BUREAU they are promoting lies to the public and wasting our elected officials time to create respectable jobs in america.

    August 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • darla leight


      August 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  2. Julie

    Hey Kat, I just watched you explain on CNN about the new law approving the slaughter of horse meat. Your jokes fell flat!...[..."you won't be getting any Trigger burgers..."] as you laughed along with your delivery of the joke. It's NOT funny! This is a topic about killing lovely animals dear to our hearts. You are insensitive attempting to make humor out for your own telegenic appeal. Why don't you do a little research on the subject & disclose to the public the real process of how they torture these sentient feeling creatures. They're often hammered to death on the head! Tell about the inhumane conditions they force upon the horses prior to being killed. And tell the truth that it's anyone's unwanted pet!!! There's no discrimination when it comes to which horse is slaughtered. Real truth from killer/buyer/slaughter shippers? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l5pXviVBig

    July 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  3. john

    the fact that people can be abusive or irresponsible with a horse is not a reason for slaughter. find a way to pay for humane euthanasia if an animal has no use and no hope of a good home. how many vets would turn you away and say send the horse to a slaughter house.
    people dont take care of their children either. is slaughter an option ??
    the biggest problem with allowing slaughter again in the usa is IT MAKES STEALING HORSES MORE APPEALING. very easy to dispose of a childs pony an adults pet quickly. a nightmare for eveyone who owns a horse.

    June 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  4. grrace

    The excuse that "horses are being starved, neglected, etc, because HORSE SLAUGHTER was ended," could be laughable, if it were not so tragic. Horse starving is a CRIME. Horse neglect IS A CRIME. Neglecting ANIMALS is A CRIME. ANIMAL ABUSE is a CRIME. Report them. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH SLAUGHTERING animals, except most ANIMALS up for slaughter ARE abused. Animal slaughter is what breeds ANIMAL ABUSE. duh.

    May 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  5. Terra Pennington

    Stop the slaughter of American horses from being slaughtered and you will see where the over-breeding comes from and see why these groups say we need horse slaughter in the US. The AQHA is one of the worst in their breed baby breed programs and if a ban on slaughter is done you will see that these group are the ones that need a trash can to toss their unwanted and less than perfect breed. Yes horse slaughter is a trash can to help out the pro-slaughter to clean up their mess for another season.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:31 am |
  6. Terra Pennington

    Bull shit this man could not slaughter cows humanly what makes anyone think he can slaughter horses. We don't raise horse as meat animals and they are full of toxic that can harm humans when consumed. And the fact is the EU has ban all US horses and horses meat from being imported into the UK for human consumption because of toxic meat. So where will this meat end up. I no longer buy ground beef or eat at Burger Kind for fear of horse meat mixed in with the ground beef.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:08 am |
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    April 15, 2013 at 1:41 am |
  8. sheila

    Sorry I sometimes just get upset and do not really read a full comment. What does our horsemeat mean? I own four sweet mares who I would rather hire someone with a high caliber rifle to shoot rather than make a couple of dollars at the local sale. Judas I hope I am wrong, but I fear it will be the future. I have had older euthanasized and buried on my small farm. It cost 210 dollars. So much for the garbage who say it costs Mega bucks to put down a horse.

    April 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Terra Pennington

      You go girl after all good old Tim which is no longer employed by Valley meat showed us how much more humane it is to shot our horses in the field then to send it to slaughter to poison people overseas.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  9. sheila

    Response to Suzanne.
    First of all.I am absolutely against slaughter. What will happen is individuals will raise drug free horses
    They eventually this will be the new lean meat. Ultimately I hope the beef industry does lose big time as most of them have supported slaughter ans many big time ranchers have had their cattle on taxpayer land They have supported totally annihilating wild horses. The same animals that help them run their ranch daily

    April 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  10. Tracey W.

    This was a dirty deal to begin with. Fast tracked and no allowance for public input, padded pockets and ignorance all around. The legislators got caught in a seedy alliance with the farm bureau and out of staters who seek to profit. Who in their right mind, believes for one moment, that this has ANYTHING to do with neglect cases. This is about money and a predatory MEAT market that targets young healthy horses. Most of which were bred and discarded by the AQHA ,a prime over breeding, greedy registry. What the cattlemen don't get is that they are hurting their own interests by supportng this. As long as horses are slaughtered the beef supply is compromised. Who does not know it is already in our beef supply ? It is not like we are dealing with good upstanding people in this business. And for those who are dumb enough to buy into the property rights nonsense, it is not about that. You are already limited on certain things, no one was trying to take rights away. For those who think it is a PETA group against this, wrong again. I, and no one I know are PETA supporters. Not every person who thinks animals should be treated better are hippies , tree huggers or PETA supporters. This is a tact that is used to discredit anyone who questions anything Big Ag is doing. And as for the person who said wild horses are free of any toxins... you are wrong. Anytime wild horses are rounded up they are given certain drugs and meds. Not only that, but when horses are stressed/ slaughtered they shoot a tremendous amount of cortisol { steroid hormone} into their system. Much more so than actual meat livestock. Read up a little on that, if you think you are so ready to eat horses. And I guess we will always have those primitive individuals that will eat anything that moves, those are usually the kind of people that have no respect for anything. We have solutions to all of this, but the problem is the solutions don't make money, and we don't have politicians that have the guts to stand up to the greed machines in this. Horse slaughter has never gone away , and it has not solved anything. Adding more means creating a larger market for it, and letting the greed breeders continue their irresponsible pratices. Shameful to say the least. And horse slaughter is anything but humane. The lies in this thing are epic.

    April 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  11. sheila

    I believe that horsemeat will be available for the public to eat in five years. What is going to happen is individuals are going to the local sale buy a couple of stallions and a few mares. They will keep the mares bred year round selling the horses as yearlings to the slaughter house as young tender lean protein. Look out beef industry
    Cheval what's new for dinner.
    Horses will continue to be profusely bred.
    The average American horse owner will not be able to compete with equine feed lots for hay.
    Nothing good will come from horse slaughter, as new plants will only offer a place every breeder to dump their less than perfect produce.
    What a sham.

    April 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      "The average American horse owner will not be able to compete with equine feed lots for hay."

      I hope that you are wrong. By the way, one of my family's recent hobbies is black-powder cowboy shooting.
      Those two sentences are completely unrelated.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Suzanne Moore

      I wouldn't hold my breath, Sheila ~ The European Union has already banned the importation of horse meat from US horse slaughter plants. Since the EU not only accounts for 80% of our horse meat sales – via Canada and Mexico – plus the fact the the EU OWNS the international horse meat trade – if these plants ever get opened, which if doubtful, there will be NO market for the meat. I have no idea who they think they are going to sell the stuff to, but it won't be Americans. Then, on July 31, 2013 we won't be able to sell our horse meat to the EU through Canada and Mexico either. 2013 regulations dictate that no EU certified horse slaughter plants can accept horses from any country that doesn't have a traceability system comparable to the passport system. The US will NOT be in compliance and from the looks of things, neither will Canada or Mexico. Many EU member states have been calling for a ban on horse meat from North America because of cruelty issues for some time. They may get their wish. If we can't export our horse meat, that's it, because there will never be enough of a market in the US to keep even ONE plant going, let alone all the plants Sue Wallis is planning. But that woman lost track of reality LONG ago.

      April 5, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  12. SuzTX

    What's next? Oklahoma going to ok the eating of dogs and cats? This is insane!!

    April 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  13. Barbara

    The root of the problem is overbreeding. It needs to stop now. It is typical of humans to cause a problem and then take the easy way out. Wait until the killers start stealing young, healthy horses to fill their quotas.

    April 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  14. L. J.

    The problem with eating horsemeat is all the chemicals we put into our horses. They get vaccinations at least one time each year – most of the intramuscular injections – and four to six times per year, they are given an oral dose of anthelmentic (anti-parasitic or "dewormer"). For those reasons alone, 99 percent of the equine in the US would NEVER be able to be labeld organic! And not too many of the drugs given horses is safe for human consumption. When a horse has to be euthanized, if the owner wants them to be used to feed large meateaters (at a local zoo or whatever), the horse cannot be put to sleep with an injection as that could kill the big cat or bear. Just like, if you have cats or dogs at home, you should never use rat poison to control rodents – if your pet gets ahold of one of the poisoned rodents, the pet will probably die (or run up a HUGE vet bill!) I've been a horse person all my life and, when I was a child, I would have said NEVER slaugter horses. But, today, the reality is slaughter is not necessarily a good thing but the economy demands it because people cannot afford all the horses that are out there. As long as it's done humanely, I'm okay with horse slaughter for pet food – NOT human food!!

    April 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      The pet food industry banned horse meat from dog and cat food in 1978. Apparently the medications that are OK for horses were still present in the meat and were killing dogs.

      April 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Michelle

        Do you know where you heard of or saw information on the 1078 ban of horse meat in dog food?

        August 6, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      I apologize, I did not notice you had already covered that in your post. I was too busy tearing my hair out over the overabundance of human stupidity regarding this issue.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Suzanne Moore

      We have had unfettered access to horse slaughter for over 30 YEARS! If it hasn't solved the over population by now how can anyone think it will EVER do so? Slaughter enables over breeding, so over breeding will never come under control as long as slaughter is available. Horse OWNERS are responsible for their horses, but as long as slaughter is there, the few irresponsible ones will still use a producer of human food as a trash can for the horses they toss away like yesterday's news. The slaughter plants do NOT accept old, sick, emaciated horses anyway – no matter what the pro-slaughter propaganda would have people believe. When the slaughter plants refuse the horses, the killers abandon them do die in feed lots without shelter, food or water. This happens all the time and is WELL documented.

      Besides that, there is NO way to humanely slaughter horses in the fast paced, assembly line structure of the modern mass-kill slaughter plants. The captive-bolt – designed for cattle – is totally unsuitable for horses. It doesn't WORK. And this doesn't even count the way horses are treated in transport. There is nothing beneficial to horses in their slaughter!

      April 5, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  15. Jack 2

    Humans are like a bunch of cockroache's eating anything they can get into their mouths. The Asians and whomever else eat horses and dogs need to clean it up.

    April 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  16. Jack

    Horses suffer greatly being starved and abused. They spend days on trucks with no water or food, being bit, kicked by other horses, and beated by the humans. Then are mistreated and going through horrors and torture at the slauighter horses in Canada and Mexico. Mexico is HORRIBLE. If people stopped breeding the the racing industry stopped breeding and dumping all their nonwinners and cripples they cause.........there would not be a need.
    The most human thing we can do for the tens of thousands of suffering and unwanted horses is to start the slaughter houses back up in US but have close watchdogs.......there was much abuse like there is even now in US slaughterhouses due to greed and corruption.

    If people really cared, they would stop the OVERBREEDING.

    April 2, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Judas Priest

      Horsedefenders.com and the StopOverbreedingHorses Facebook page have links to organizations that are working to stop the commoditized insanity of race horse breeding. Doesn't run fast enough at 1 1/2 years? Leads off the wrong leg? Doesn't react well to being whipped? Chuck 'em, get another one.
      To those who defend horse racing as a fine, time-honored gentleman's sport, I humbly submit that horseracing stopped being such around the turn of the century, and has only gotten more mechanized and more inhumane as the money involved grew larger and larger. Racing today is a far cry from the antebellum South.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  17. Mufasa

    This article notes the source of the problem – "irresponsible horse owners" – and yet doesn't address the issue of holding people accountable for overbreeding, neglect, and abandonment. If you stop making slaughter the easy way out for bad behavior, the horses won't suffer nearly as much and the supply of horses will dwindle to manageable levels.

    April 2, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Judas Priest

      There's no money to be made in stopping irresponsible behavior.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  18. Rick

    Oklahomans didn't approve of this, Governor Mary Fallin did. she's in the hip pocket of big business.

    April 2, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Judas Priest

      I was wondering why Oklahoma would chuck its fine cowboy heritage quite literally into the grinder.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • Lynn Riley

        We, the people of Oklahoma, DID NOT approve this. Poll after Poll was taken but our dear Governor signed it anyway. Needess to say she just put a fork in her political career!

        April 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  19. Andy

    Absolutely, just as soon as they allow horses and other farm animals to consume human meat.

    Heck, I think humans should have the right to consume human meat, we have an abundance of it, so why not look at ending world hunger with humans? We caused the mess, time to pull up a seat, take out a plate, slather on some bbq sauce and tuck in. Newborns anyone, yummmmm.

    April 2, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  20. symfonycms

    yep.. if they did this with dogs and cats.. there will be no big issue anymore with the SPCA..

    April 1, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  21. Paul N Mavini

    If only our governor was as concerned about the working poor as she is about animals...

    April 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  22. redromo

    It's because horses are part of our American culture. John Wayne didn't ride in with guns a blaze'n on a cow. They didn't make a movie named "War Heffer"...We've never see a pig win the 'Triple Crown' or a chicken pull the Budweiser wagon.

    April 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      mongo ride steer

      April 2, 2013 at 6:57 am |
      • Judas Priest

        "Never mind that $h!t– here comes Mongo!"

        April 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  23. nodat1

    Roast Horse meat with Mediterranean Flavours yummm



    April 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Tom Durfee

      Horse meat is unfit for humans to eat. Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 48, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 1270-1274
      Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk
      Nicholas Dodman, Nicolas Blondeau, Ann M. Marini http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T6P-4YF5RB0-1&_user=10&_coverDate=05%2F31%2F2010&_alid=1317753422&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_cdi=5036&_sort=r&_docanchor=&view=c&_ct=4&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=2f8a2c55a559e5963d0f1e02b682319c
      I have always said they don’t how many people they poison as long as they make a buck.
      Here is the first warning to a horse killer from the FDA for falsified EID and the horse was positive for bute.
      Horse Owner Survey Shows NSAID Use Trends
      In a recent survey, 96% of respondents said they used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the joint pain and inflammation in horses, and 82% administer them without always consulting their veterinarian. More than 1,400 horse owners and trainers were surveyed to better understand attitudes toward NSAIDs, in a project sponsored by Merial, the maker of Equioxx (firocoxib).
      Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – prohibited as well Phenylbutazone, known as "bute," is a veterinary drug only label-approved by the Food & Drug Administration for use by veterinarians in dogs and horses. It has been associated with debilitating conditions in humans and it is absolutely not permitted for use in food-producing animals. USDA/FSIS has conducted a special project to for this drug in selected bovine slaughter plants under federal inspection. An earlier pilot project by FSIS found traces less than 3% of the livestock selected for testing, sufficient cause for this special project. There is no tolerance for this drug in food-producing livestock, and they and their by-products are condemned when it is detected. Dairy producers must not use this drug in food-producing livestock and if it is found, those producers will be subject to FDA investigation and possible prosecution.

      April 1, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
      • geeworker

        so sayeth the flock

        April 1, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
      • geeworker

        wild horse meat would be clean of everything you posted so lighten up and enjoy a horse steak

        April 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
        • kas

          Do you really think that only wild horses are slaughtered? Most of them are lame, elderly or otherwise unwanted by the standard horse purchaser. Go to an auction sometime, you'll see the quality of horses sent to slaughter.

          April 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
        • Judas Priest

          It also would be quite touch and stingy, far more so than deer, and would have the same contaminants that you would find in mine tailing ponds, which get so easily into the water supply where wild horses are most common. My favorites are arsenic, mercury and cyanide. Not to mention the fallout from above-ground nuclear tests which yes Virginia, is still with us and will be so for quite a while.
          So what are you waiting for? Dig in!

          April 2, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • Suzanne Moore

          Nope! The BLM confirms worming and vaccinating the horses they return to the range after roundups. They also administer bute to those that need it. Then there is the experimental anti-fertility drug they use on the mares. Wild horses are NOT drug free.

          April 5, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Vickery Eckhoff

      Does Rep. McNiel's legislative record show proof of trying to change the "status quo that encourages abuse and neglect, and that rewards the potentially inhumane slaughter of animals in foreign countries" prior to being able to turn that abuse and neglect into a profit-making opportunity for her family and state officials?

      If my research is correct, the very people using "foreign slaughter plants" in the pejorative are the same people who fought to keep sending US horses to them for the past decade by blocking bans to end both domestic slaughter and the transport to slaughter.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  24. Goddog

    I'll be honest... I really don't have an opinion one way or the other on this, however... I would never be able to knowingly eat horse meat. I just think that I am too programmed to be able to
    get past the emotional/psychological aspects of it.

    April 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
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