Last week I wrote about my bills that passed in committee, including SB 375. As you know, Senate Bill 375 would make it legal in Oklahoma for horse meat to be processed for export. I am happy to report that the bill passed on the Senate floor Wednesday with a 38-6 vote, and now heads to the House of Representatives.
Constituents might be interested to learn that Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart tells me he picked up 60 horses last year. What you may not know is that the sheriff’s department has to take care of the horses they pick up for 30 days before those horses can be sold. This cuts into the county budget and staffing – and the taxpayers are currently paying for the care of these animals.
The Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association supports the concept of slaughter for horses in Oklahoma, and SB 375 is specifically addressed by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, as well as Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce came to this conclusion: “The costs for care of abandoned and neglected horses on state and local government is a burden on state and local governments and places a drag on the community. In addition to the costs on society, there is a decrease in farm income and asset values in rural areas. Combined, these higher costs and reduced income and asset values place a drag on the economy. The combined impact of these factors reduces Oklahoma’s GDP by about $24-$25 million per year and reduces jobs in Oklahoma by 600-700 jobs.”
Oklahoma Farm Bureau wrote a memo that included the following quotes.
“We support legislation and rulings that allow the sale, possession and transport of horses intended for processing or rendering, and encourage a national education campaign targeted toward legislators and the media as to the consequences of eliminating equine harvest, resulting in unintended animal abuse and neglect, and the negative impact on the equine industry.”
“Under Oklahoma law, horses are livestock. Livestock are private property and a commodity subject to buying and selling. Nothing in SB 375 requires a horse owner to sell their horse for processing. We urge you to give little credence to the horror stories which have been spread by some so-called animal rights organizations. Horse processing is highly regulated at several levels.” The memo went on to state that “Protecting private property rights is a 2013 priority issue for Oklahoma Farm Bureau.”
I believe in protecting rural Oklahoma and this bill does just that.
Until next time,
Senator Mark Allen