Future Uncertain for Horse Slaughter in Oklahoma

Source: By BARBARA HOBEROCK of Tulsa World

“…the record of environmental damage from previously existing horse-slaughter facilities is horrific…”

OKLAHOMA CITY – A controversial law allowing for the slaughtering of horses takes effect Nov. 1, but whether or not the state will be home to such a facility remains to be seen.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1999, by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, and Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona, despite concerns that the slaughtering of horses was not humane.

The commercial consumption of horse meat is banned nationwide, Fields said. Some foreign countries allow horse meat consumption.

Supporters say the measure was needed because horses are being shipped out of the country and slaughtered in an inhumane manner. Supporters also say it is a private property rights issue.

Fields said he is not aware of any efforts to build a facility in Oklahoma.

Skye McNiel’s family owns a livestock/horse auction in Bristow, OK

“My goal is not necessarily to bring one,” McNiel said. “I am not out promoting it. Once I passed the bill, I was done.”

Prior to the measure’s passage, Ahsan Amil of Oklahoma Meat Company based in Washington, Okla., applied for a federal inspection with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Amil said he did so because at the time, he was considering leasing or selling his plant and interested parties wanted him to seek approval. He is no longer pursuing the issue, he said.

Meanwhile, horse-slaughter plants are planned in New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri and Tennessee. The plants in New Mexico and Iowa have been approved.

But a suit brought by the Humane Society of the United States and animal protection organizations put horse slaughter on hold.

A federal judge approved an injunction Friday to temporarily halt efforts.

The suit alleges that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to conduct the necessary environmental review before authorizing horse slaughterhouses to operate.

“We’ve won a temporary but life-saving reprieve for horses, and it’s good news indeed that the kill boxes in New Mexico and Iowa will be empty of horses in the weeks ahead,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, in a statement issued Friday. “We’ll continue to make arguments when our case resumes in a month that these plants cannot legally operate because of inadequate environmental review.”

A senior attorney for the Humane Society, Kimberly Ockene, said that “the record of environmental damage from previously existing horse-slaughter facilities is horrific, including residents of the community surrounding the facilities finding blood and horse tissue in their tap water.”

“This alone should be enough to require the agency to conduct a careful environmental review prior to authorizing inspections at new facilities. In addition, horses are flight animals who are not raised in confinement and thus the slaughter process is extremely inhumane,” Ockene said.

A. Blair Dunn is an Albuquerque, N.M., attorney representing Valley Meat Co., near Roswell, N.M., and Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, Mo.

“We have severe problems in this country with abandoned and neglected horses,” he said.

He said he understands the emotional side of the issue and the bonds humans make with horses.

“They don’t agree with the underlying issue of processing of horses,” he said. “They are using this as an excuse to slow things down in order to get Congress to do something because they are unsatisfied with the current law.”

The Federal Meat Inspection Act requires facilities seeking to slaughter animals for human food and prepared for commerce to be inspected, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

From 2007 until 2011, Congress banned the use of federal dollars for the inspections of horse-slaughter facilities, effectively prohibiting the inspections.

The ban was recently lifted.

“Since Congress has not yet acted to ban horse-slaughter inspection, FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) was legally required to issue a grant of inspection to Valley Meats in Roswell, N.M., and Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, for equine slaughter,” said an USDA representative.

Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the agency must issue a grant of inspection once an establishment has satisfied all federal requirements, the representative said.

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” the agency representative said.

“Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law.”

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has no responsibility over horse-slaughter facilities, said Kirby Smith, public information manager.

“That responsibility lies with the USDA,” she said.

Laws governing the slaughter of horses and horse meat consumption vary from state to state, said Holly Gann, the Humane Society’s horse slaughter campaign manager.

Click (HERE) to comment directly at Tulsa World

Oklahoma Horse Slaughter Plant Would Be Years Away

Source: | Yahoo! Contributor Network

Fields, Senate author of HB 1999, explained that should the governor sign the measure into law, any horse slaughter facilities within Oklahoma would likely not be in operation for another two to three years

Oklahoma House Bill 1999 , a measure that would allow horse slaughter in the state but maintains the ban for consuming horse meat in the state won approval from the Senate today and will be making its way to the desk of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin for consideration.

HB 1999, first introduced in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Feb. 4 and authored by Rep. Skye McNiel , R-District 29, received approval by a vote of 82 to 14 in that legislative body on Feb. 20 and referred to the Senate for consideration. In the Senate, Sen. Eddie Fields , R-District 10, picked up the gauntlet, with a vote on the measure passing by a vote of 32 to 14 yesterday.

Fallin’s office is set to receive HB 1999 in its final form , and NewsOK.com reported that the governor had indicated in the past that she would sign the measure into law. If so, the ban on the slaughter of horses in the Red Man state that’s been in effect for 50 years would be eliminated.

Meanwhile on the federal level, both legislative bodies are working on bi-partisan measures that would outlaw horse slaughter throughout the nation through the Safeguard American Foods Export Act (SAFE Act.) The Senate’s measure is S. 541 , sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu , D-La.; the House of Representatives’ measure is H.R. 1094 , sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan , R-Pa.

Fields, Senate author of HB 1999, explained that should the governor sign the measure into law, any horse slaughter facilities within Oklahoma would likely not be in operation for another two to three years, according to NewsOK.com. The law would not force horse owners to take their animals to a slaughter facility, but instead provide another option for such owners.

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Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote to Allow Horse Slaughter

Source: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

The discovery in Europe of horse meat disguised as beef has intensified the debate over the slaughter of horses for food. Oklahoma just voted to allow it, but there are no federal inspectors.

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

The fight over using horses for food grew louder Tuesday when the Oklahoma Legislature voted to allow the operation of horse slaughterhouses.

The issue has taken on greater urgency since horse meat appeared, disguised as beef, in European outposts of Burger King and other restaurants there.

A USA TODAY analysis found that as much as 17% of the horse meat in Europe originated in the United States, even though no horse meat is legally produced here. Unwanted horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico, where they are slaughtered for meat.

Horse meat has been illegal since Congress ended U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for horse slaughterhouse inspections in 2006 at the urging of animal rights activists. That funding prohibition expired in 2011, but horses cannot legally be slaughtered for food because the USDA no longer has trained inspectors.

A bill now in Congress would make it illegal to slaughter horses for food or to ship them out of the country for slaughter. Last year, 166,572 U.S. horses were shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for food, according to USDA and Agriculture Canada figures.

“Horses have been raised for sport, transport, security and companionship, but never for slaughter and consumption,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who introduced the legislation. “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.”

The Oklahoma action ends the state’s 50-year ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption. Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, has said she is inclined to sign the bill.

No one in Oklahoma has applied for permission to slaughter horses, and even with the governor’s signature, horse slaughter couldn’t take place without USDA oversight.

State Rep. Skye McNiel, a Republican, said in an e-mail that she introduced the bill as “a much more humane way to treat these animals, to manage the population and to control the neglect that we are seeing when irresponsible owners decide they can no longer take care of their horses.”

Four states — California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas — ban horse slaughter.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued a statement from Nancy Perry, senior vice president for government relations, expressing disappointment “that the Oklahoma legislature would welcome the grisly and predatory horse slaughter industry.”

“The ill-advised legislative gutting of Oklahoma’s law against the sale of horse meat for human consumption could not be more poorly timed, given the strong opposition from the majority of Oklahoma voters and the now well-documented dangers of toxic horse meat for consumers,” she said.

Europeans consumed 119,000 tons of horse meat in 2012, of which 21,250 tons came from U.S. horses slaughtered in Mexico and Canada, according to Keith Dane, director of equine protection with the Humane Society of the United States.

Animal rights groups and horse fanciers argue that horses have never been raised for meat in the United States and that, because they are routinely given drugs such as wormers and phenylbutazone for inflammation, their flesh is unhealthy for people to eat.

“American horses aren’t raised for food, they’re raised for pleasure and competition,” said Stephanie Twining, of the Humane Society of the United States. “In the United States we think of horses as pets and racehorses and celebrities.”

Janine Jacques, of the Equine Rescue Network in Newton, Mass., tries to find homes for unwanted horses, asks, “What are we going to do with 160,000 unwanted horses in the United States?”

Jacques, who teaches equine management at Mount Ida College in Newton, thinks slaughter plants are necessary but that more could be done to reduce the number of animals sent to them. She said, “If we don’t have slaughter as an option, you’re going to see a lot more abused and abandoned horses.”

Oklahoma Lawmakers Ramming Horse Slaughter Bill Down Constituent’s Throats

Source: Tulsa World Editorial

The horse-slaughter train is roaring down the track and it appears there will be no stopping it.
Oklahoma Lawmakers

Oklahoma Lawmakers

House Bill 1999 would allow the slaughtering of horses in Oklahoma and shipment of the meat to other countries. Horse meat is not consumed as food in the United States.

The measure has passed the House, cleared committee in the Senate and might be taken up on the Senate floor as early as Tuesday.

There is something about the rush to pass this misconceived legislation that doesn’t smell right. The measure passed a Senate committee last week on a unanimous vote, with no discussion or debate. It is ludicrous to think that an issue as controversial as this would not prompt debate, or at least a few questions raised.

What this suggests is that lawmakers know that many, perhaps most, of their constituents oppose the horse slaughterhouse bill but the word has come down from the leadership that the bill is to be passed regardless, and with as little fuss as possible.

On Thursday, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman lent his support to HB 1999, an unsurprising but still disappointing development.

Bingman doesn’t see slaughtering horses as an embarrassment to the state. He sees allowing slaughterhouses as a humane alternative for dealing with old, feeble or sick horses. That’s been the constant refrain on the horse-slaughter advocates.

The idea that humane care for old, feeble and sick horses is the primary motivation for permitting a practice that as of now is not permitted by any other state is laughable. There is no way that there are enough such animals to profitably operate a slaughterhouse. Healthy animals will have to be imported from other states and ultimately horses will have to be bred and raised for slaughter.

The pro-slaughter crowd touts the economic benefits but in fact the practice will be of minimal economic benefit, with most of that accruing to the state’s horse auctioneers, including the family of Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, author of HB 1999.

The horse-slaughter crowd claims that there is no difference between slaughtering horses and cattle, but that’s not really true. Cattle are raised to be food. The slaughter of any animal can be a difficult process, but it is the nature of horses to resist, to escape or even fight back when threatened. Horses, at least in this country, are not raised to be food. They are bred and trained to be work mates and companions for people.

It’s probable that a majority of Oklahomans find the slaughter of horses for exported meat repugnant. But it’s full steam ahead for the Legislature. If HB 1999 passes the Senate the only roadblock remaining is the scant hope that Gov. Mary Fallin would veto it.

Get ready. If you liked cockfighting you’ll love horse slaughter.

Click (HERE) to Comment at Tulsa World

Toxins Sweepin’ Down the Plains

Guest OpEd by Vicki Tobin ~ VP of Equine Welfare Alliance

“Skye McNiel wants to use the food chain to dispose of horses…”
Horse-Hater Skye Mcniel

Horse-Hater Skye Mcniel

Nothing is sweeter than having the darkside validate what we have been saying for years. I came across an article yesterday that was regarding the conflict of interest with Skye O’Niel in Oklahoma. The opening paragraph is something everyone should send to the USDA, your legislators and any contacts you have outside our borders to make sure the EU and consumers hear this loud and clear.

“Rep. Skye McNiel said that gain would be shared equally by all the state’s horse auctioneers and is not substantial compared to the financial gain to the state’s horse owners who are seeking an avenue to dispose of animals that have lost their use.”

Did you get that? Skye McNiel wants to use the food chain to dispose of horses. This statement is clear indication of how seriously slaughter supporters take food safety and the arrogant attitude toward foreign consumers.

While the epic horse meat scandal is raging in Europe, Skye McNiel and her buddies in the Oklahoma legislature rammed through legislation against the cries of outrage from their constituents. Skye McNeil is celebrating tonight and will have visions of dollar signs in her sleep. Not only will her family’s auction benefit financially but the legislation makes sure of it. No horses will be accepted that haven’t gone through an auction. Isn’t that special?

To add to the arrogance, the meat is still illegal to consume in Oklahoma! Another clear message that she doesn’t want the residents of Oklahoma eating toxic meat – just send it to the foreigners.

It gets better, folks. While Oklahoma was ram-rodding the legislation, Sue Wallis sent out one of her blue light specials. From the title to her close, it is the biggest pile of horse manure yet. Her prose came out of the other end of the horse – you know, the end where all her statistics originate. Here are a few highlights that I found entertaining.

Let’s start with the rally in Oklahoma. She states with pleasure that no anti-slaughter activists were there. Wrong again, Sue. We had many in attendance just to hear the horse manure, first hand. Here’s a hint, Sue. Don’t have the Farm Bureau bus people in that don’t have a clue about horse slaughter or at least give them one of your scripts so they don’t appear to be clueless. Oh, wait. You don’t have any facts to give them. Forgive my lapse.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Farm Bureau, they are a lobby firm that sells insurance. They lobby against anything remotely related to animal welfare and are responsible for most of the state legislation against animals, like Ag gag laws. They have a presence in virtually every state.

Here is but one example of Sue’s (as she calls them) “articulate supporters”. One of the anti-slaughter activists that wasn’t there asked two of her “articulate supporters” why they supported horse slaughter. They replied in unison “Because euthanasia is too expensive.” The one that wasn’t there replied “Really, how much does it cost in Oklahoma?” Sue’s “articulate supporters” looked at each other and then replied “I don’t know, do you? The other replied, No, but I bet the girls over there know.” So, either they don’t own horses or they don’t live in Oklahoma and they just weren’t sly enough to make up a number – something any Wallis graduate would know. Sue must have bused them in from New York City because as everyone knows, those city folk just don’t know about horses. We hope she bribed them with more than a free lunch and free bus ride on the Farm Bureau express.

We were hoping to hear from someone speaking with a French accent to espouse the virtues of cheval and how much they appreciate the free sides of Ivermectin and Clenbuterol with their buteburger (ICB). Doesn’t that negate any protein or nutrition? Hey, Sue, you could use those initials for the next organization you start. ICB, Inc., the conscience of the food safety industry. It has a nice ring to it.

A blue light special from Wallis wouldn’t be complete without a little Wallis math. Sue proclaimed there were 400 in attendance at the horse killer rally. This number is coming from someone that claimed 689,000 jobs were lost when the plants closed. A number clearly pulled out of the end previously mentioned. The plants employed a total of 200 workers, of which at least 85% were undocumented. That means a total of 30 American jobs were lost. Keep in mind, the kill buyers, the auctions and the haulers are all still in business so it was only the plant workers that lost their jobs. Only with Wallis math can 30 become 689,000 and 100 become over 400. So when Wallis says over 400 people attended, you can bet the farm that the number was significantly less as confirmed by the anti-slaughter activists that “weren’t there” as well as Skye O’Niel that reported 100.

Sue Wallis  contemplating whether horse or donkey is on the menu for tonight

Sue Wallis contemplating whether horse or donkey is on the menu for tonight

As expected, Wallis is attacking the recently introduced federal legislation, S 541, claiming it doesn’t provide solutions. Cutting off the supply of toxic meat is most certainly a solution. It ensures that the right of consumers to safe food is not compromised. She also can’t seem to get her agriculture industries straight. The meat industry produces meat. The horse industry requires live horses and does not produce meat. Horse slaughter has not provided any solutions for the horse industry and her lame excuses for needing it are moot. It has existed for decades and only provides more of the same. A solution cannot be formulated without addressing the root cause. If slaughter was the solution, why will there be more horses to kill this year? Didn’t all the excess, abandoned, old, sick, lame, dangerous and useless horses get killed last year and the year before and the year before…? What year will horse slaughter provide a solution?

The USDA stated that if horse slaughter plants open in the US, there is no way to guarantee that what is happening in Europe, won’t happen here. We learned on March 15, that two plants were shut down for falsified paperwork— something the US has turned into a science. The USDA also stated they support reinstating the ban on horse meat inspections.

I’ll bet Sue broke out in hives when she heard those statements from the USDA. Press coverage of Wallis has virtually disappeared because the media finally gets it. They are doing their homework before going to press and it’s difficult to use Wallis’ statistics and statements because they can never be verified, unless the wind is blowing in the right direction.

Wallis keeps regurgitating “humane and regulated” and yet, still defends the cruelty and abuse. She has yet to tell us how she will provide medical histories from birth for abandoned horses when she can’t find the owners. Where will she get medical histories on the stolen horses and horses that have had multiple owners? How exactly will they comply with EU regulations when the EU requires a passport system that we don’t have and horse owners don’t want? How will she fix a humane transport enforcement program that hasn’t really existed for decades?

The law is the law, humane methods of slaughter law, promise of cheval, facts and FAQs, blah, blah, blah. Since when has anyone in the slaughter business followed the law or Wallis every cited anything factual? It must have been an oversight that she didn’t quote anything from food safety laws.

How very sad Sue places the greed and corruption that is inherent in the horse slaughter business above the rights of consumers to safe food. Our right to safe food will also be compromised. We don’t have enough inspectors for our own food and if plants open, there will be even less available to safeguard our food supply.

No doubt, the horse industry is feeling the impacts of the economy but that has nothing to do with horse slaughter. Horse slaughter has continued uninterrupted and is still thriving. More horses were slaughtered in the 5 years since the plants closed than the 5 years prior so there is in-your-face proof that horse slaughter isn’t going to fix anything in the horse industry.

Face reality, Sue; horse slaughter is on life support and all that is needed is for Congress to pull the plug. That day is coming very soon.

Call your legislators and demand they support food safety by cosponsoring HR 1094 and S 541 and then visit Popvox and voice your support of HR 1094 and S 541.

Humane Society- Oklahoma Horse Slaughter Bill a Grizzly Crutch

Source: By Jeanne LeFlore of the McAlester News-Capital

“The horse slaughter industry is not around to rescue horses,”
(Click on Image to Enlarge)

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

McALESTER — A Pittsburg County farmers and ranchers union recently lobbied for equine processing legislation that passed a Senate committee unopposed on Monday.

Although the legislation passed the Senate committee, animal rights activists such as the Humane Society of the United States say the bill legalizing horse slaughter in Oklahoma is nothing more than a “grizzly crutch.”

The Pittsburg County American Farmers and Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union sponsored a lobbying event at the Oklahoma State Capitol Building on March 13, according to Lacie Wedel, communications coordinator for the union.

The AFR/OFU is part of an agriculture and wildlife coalition showing support for HB 1999 and SB 375, authored by Rep. Skye McNeil (R-Bristow) and Sen. Mark Allen (R-Arkoma), Wedel said.

Local legislators Sen. Larry Boggs and Rep. Donnie Condit voted for their respective bills. Rep. Brian Renegar abstained from a vote, citing constitutional privilege. None of three replied to inquiries for comment for this story by presstime.

The legislation amends the Oklahoma Meat Inspection Act by allowing horses, mules or other equine to be transported, manufactured, processed, packed, sold or prepared in Oklahoma as long as the meat is sold on the international market.

Laice said the proposed legislation would provide a “desperately needed outlet” for unwanted horses in Oklahoma.

On Monday, the bill moved forward after members of the Senate agriculture committee voted 9-0 in support of the measure.

Speaking for the union’s support on the measure, Wedel said when horse owners can no longer care for aging or unwanted animals, current options are limited.

The care and feeding of horses is costly and when owners can’t afford an old or sick horse, they have limited or no options, Wedel said.

“Many owners turn horses out to seek food on their own and when neglected or abandoned, these animals die of starvation, illness or predators and become a financial strain on counties forced to care for them,” sshe said.

Union President Terry Detrick said the legislation helps to solve that problem.

“Oklahoma stands poised to take a significant step forward in the care and handling of horses in this country,” Detrick said.

“This bill benefits our state’s rural citizens, business owners and agriculturists, and provides for the responsible, humane harvesting of these horses.”

He said horses that are not abandoned are often transported to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.

He also said legalized state-run and federally regulated slaughter is the answer.

“State-inspected horse slaughter is an all-encompassing solution for the current issue.”

Meanwhile, the proposed legislation has come under fire by the Humane Society of the United States.

Cynthia Armstrong is the state director of USHS.

“We are strongly opposed to this legislation for a number of reasons,” Armstrong said.

“Its a grizzly crutch and it actually perpetuates over-breeding and owner irresponsibility.”

She said legalizing equine slaughter is about money.

“The horse slaughter industry is not around to rescue horses,” Armstrong said. “It’s an economic endeavor.”

And she said the legislation is the not answer to horse neglect.

“Horse neglect occurred when slaughtering was legal,” she said.

She said neglect occurs because of the irresponsibility of the horse owners.

“Legislators need to look at the root cause of the problem which is in part, overbreeding,” Armstrong said.

“They need to consider amending breeding practices.”

She also said slaughtering horses for human consumption is inhumane and creates a serious health risk to consumers.

Although legislation prevents Oklahomans from eating horse meat, it does not prevent the horse meat from being sold to other countries for consumption, she said.

“Its irresponsible to say that the meat is not fit for us to consume yet we can sell it to other  countries for that purpose.”

“If it’s not safe for humans in the US how is it safe for any human consumption?” Armstrong said.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

Click (HERE) if You Care to Make a Stand Against this Cruelty

Breaking News: Oklahoma Panel Approves Horse Slaughter Bill

Source: Newson6.com

“Under the bill, the sale of horse meat still would be illegal in Oklahoma…”

Eye of the SlaughteredOKLAHOMA CITY -A state Senate committee has unanimously approved a bill that opens the way for a horse slaughtering facility in Oklahoma.

3/3/2013 Related Story: Debate Heats Up On Controversial Oklahoma Horse Slaughter Bill

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on Monday voted 9-0 in favor of the bill by Bristow Republican Rep. Skye McNiel. It would end Oklahoma’s 50-year ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

Under the bill, the sale of horse meat still would be illegal in Oklahoma, but the export for sale in other countries would be allowed.

Read House Bill 1999

Supporters say it would provide a humane option for unwanted, aging horses in Oklahoma. Animal rights groups have fiercely opposed the measure and to a similar bill pending in the House.

McNiel’s bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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Oklahoma Legislature