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MFBF Equine Committee Chair testifies on equine processing plant bill

HELENA–Montana Farm Bureau Equine Committee Chair Mack Cole testified today to the House Agriculture Committee on House Bill 418, a bill supportive of building a horse processing facility in Montana. The bill says that the court of Montana may not issue an injunction stopping or delaying the construction of an equine processing facility.

“If Montana could establish a horse processing facility, it would be a great benefit to Montana and to the equine businesses in our state,” noted Cole, who lives on a family ranch in Hysham where he raises paint horses and quarter horses. “As it is, horses now have to be shipped to Canada or Mexico, which puts unnecessary strain on an already ailing horse.”

Cole pointed out that as unwanted horse numbers increase, so does the cost of caring for unwanted feral horses. “According to the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the wild horse population, in 2007, there were 33,000 head of feral horses that nobody wants to adopt, even at $125 per animal, costing taxpayers $38.8 million. That cost is predicted to soar to $85 million in 2012. Feral horses are causing a real problem in the west, especially in areas where they’re being turned loose and creating hazards on our highways. Something needs to be done to stop this skyrocketing problem.”

The capitol has received more than 15,000 comments on this bill from the public.

“It’s certainly an emotional issue for everyone, but the reality is that people have the right to choose what they do with their livestock, and horses are livestock,” noted John Youngberg, MFBF Vice President of Governmental Affairs, who has been working closely on the issue. “It makes more sense to have a processing facility in Montana where horses will be humanely processed, then shipping the animals across international borders.”

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