Covering Frankfort

Jun 7, 2010 6:07 PM

Beshear Signs Nations First Legislation Promoting Humane Treatment Of Horses, Other Farm Animals

Gov. Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear and equine and agriculture officials on Monday applauded the recent passage of legislation that creates the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Council, the first of its kind in the nation. The Governor signed House Bill 398 during a ceremony at the Kentucky Horse Park, the venue of the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG).

“Ensuring the humane treatment of all animals is a principle we must show the more than 600,000 expected WEG attendees that Kentuckians take seriously,” said Gov. Beshear. “The creation of these two entities elevates the importance of how we care for all equine and farm animals each and every day. The Council has a very important task ahead as it works with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to enact and enforce regulations concerning the treatment of these animals.”

“As a long-time, equine enthusiast, I fully support the humane treatment of the horses that have been such an important part of Kentucky’s heritage,” said Mrs. Beshear. “Thanks to this bill, many endangered horses and farm animals will be saved from starvation and neglect. With WEG quickly approaching, the timing of this legislation is particularly appropriate.”

The legislation will, in part, give the Council and the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission the authority to “undertake research, conduct public hearings, and collect data to determine prevalent equine health and welfare issues,” according to the Equine Health and Welfare Alliance Inc. The organization’s website also states that Kentucky’s legislation will “strive to develop regional centers of care for unwanted, abused, neglected or confiscated equines; create a system of voluntary certification of equine rescue and retirement operations that meet industry-accepted standards for care of equines; research and offer suggestions for statutory changes affecting equine health, welfare, abuse and neglect issues; and assist veterinarians and others in maintaining the health and welfare of equines by identifying and referring to the appropriate authorities critical areas of need.

“On behalf of many veterinarians and supporters of the Equine Health and Welfare Alliance, we would like to thank our Governor and First Lady for their support. Along with the members of this legislature and administration, Kentucky has set the precedent for securing meaningful health and welfare for our trademark and signature industry,” said Dr. Frank Dwayne Marcum, DVM, an equine veterinarian from Versailles, Ky. and president of the Kentucky-based Equine Health and Welfare Alliance Inc.

HB 398 was sponsored by Rep. Tom McKee, of Cynthiana, chair of the House Agriculture and Small Business committee.

“It is an honor to work with people so committed to the equine industry,” said Rep. McKee. “Thank you to everyone who has made this day possible. This is a very positive step for our signature industry in Kentucky.

“HB 398 also contains the language in SB 105 sponsored by Sen. David Givens,” added Rep. McKee. “Thank you, Senator Givens, for your sponsorship and thanks to everyone who worked so hard on this initiative to establish the livestock care standards board. The creation of this board ensures animal agriculture of a very positive future.”

“Our Kentucky farm families represent the backbone of our rural communities and remain a stable economic engine for Kentucky in good times and bad,” said Sen. Givens, of Greensburg. “Poultry growers, horse farms, dairy and beef producers and other livestock businesses will benefit from the passage of HB398-SB105. Basing animal care standards on proven, science-driven methods improves food safety while protecting our farmers’ investments and ability to do business.”

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