Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 19, 2013

Horse slaughtering ban ends, plant seeks permit

Now that a federal ban on horse slaughtering has expired, a Washington, Okla., company is one of a handful of U.S.businesses that have applied for a new processing permit.

Besides horses, the proposed slaughterhouse would handle beef, sheep, lambs and other animals.

The last equine slaughterhouse in the U.S. closed after Congress stripped financing for federal inspections of horse meat in 2006, a move that effectively banned its salet.

The impact of that decision, some industry analysts said, led to an abundance of aging horses that proved too costly for farmers to feed and care for, especially during a period when the economy was slumping.

In 2006, slightly more than 100,000 horses were slaughtered in the U.S. and another 33,000 were shipped overseas for that purpose.

Americans, historically, have never taken to eating horse meat – which is lean and protei-rich – except in hard times. Elsewhere, though, it is prized as a delicacy.

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering two legislative bills hat would leaglize the process. The last processing plant that catered to horses ended operations in Oklahoma in 1963.

One Oklahoma lawmaker authored a plan that would allow horses to be slaughtered in state, but would require the meat to be sold elsewhere. That bill and a similar version were overwhelmingly passed by their respective chambers.

Their actions are already setting off a public outcry.

Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma director of the Humane Society of the United States, said she doesn’t believe that all of these horses are old or lame, but they are being raised and marketed just like cattle, hogs and sheep.

It all could be for naught, however, as federal officials are reportedly negotiating for an extension of the horse slaughter ban.

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Details for this story were provided by The Norman (Okla.) Transcript.

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