Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, is sponsoring House Bill 1999, which would allow horses to be slaughtered in Oklahoma for their meat. Pending legislation says that horse meat would not be processed for consumption in Oklahoma or the United States.
Several European countries process horse meat for human consumption.
McNiel, a Bristow Republican, said last week that urban voters do not understand the needs of rural Oklahoma. These horses are old and feeble or abandoned by their owners. Her legislation is supported by major farm groups including the Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and the pork council.
Opponents say horses are intentionally being overbred in Oklahoma, producing excessive numbers of horses, while just a few ever are good enough to become racers.
They say many of these young horses are intended to be slaughtered.
Tracey Williamson, of Norman, who raises horses, said that more than 90 percent of those going to slaughter are young horses, while proponents insist these horses are intended to go to slaughter houses.
Williamson is afraid that if a law is passed, it will result in the theft of horses in Oklahoma so they can be slaughtered.
Currently, about 22,000 horses are shipped annually to slaughter houses operating chiefly in Mexico, with some in Canada. Both sides agree that slaughtering methods conducted in Mexico are inhumane, but there is no concensus about whether operation of a slaughter horse in Oklahoma is a viable option.