Horse Slaughter Debate Not Over in Oklahoma

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Background | Tulsa World

Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin might have thought that quick passage of the horse slaughter bill would bring the controversy to an end. Instead, they probably just guaranteed that the controversy will continue to drag on, perhaps for years.
And the awful irony is we might have had to endure this dreadful experience, and the damage it’s done to our already lousy reputation, for naught   –  because there’s a good chance Oklahoma will never end up with a horse slaughterhouse. Let’s hope so, anyway.

But perhaps there might be at least one good outcome from this awful chapter in our legislative history: If Tulsa World readers follow through with their vows, lots of those lawmakers who supported horse slaughter and blithely ignored the wishes of voters might get booted out of office. (To learn how lawmakers voted go to http://www.tulsaworld.com/horsevote or http://www.tulsaworld.com/senatehorse.)

Several developments in recent years could mean there won’t be a slaughterhouse anywhere in the U.S. any time soon: pending federal legislation; stricter requirements for exported horse meat; persistent documentation issues, and a growing meat-fraud scandal.

And, there’s a growing movement across the country, articulated by the nation’s top agricultural official, to find a solution other than slaughter for managing the country’s horse population.

Just a few weeks ago, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for developing a “third way” to deal with unwanted or unneeded horses.

Vilsack called on Congress to “come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.”
Vilsack’s agency is reviewing five applications for slaughterhouses, including reportedly one from Oklahoma, although it is unclear if the Oklahoma application is still being pursued.

The secretary wasn’t specific about what he meant by a third option, but suggested as examples that these horses could be used in programs to help returning war veterans or prison inmates.

Apparently a number of federal lawmakers agree with his stance. Pending federal legislation would ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and prohibit transporting them across the U.S. border to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

The measure, called the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, is in part a response to reports that horse meat has been found in food products in Europe and wrongly identified as beef.

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