Rep. Susan Westrom, whose district is in Fayette County, said the measure is a major step toward putting horses on equal footing with other livestock.
“I am pleased to know that my colleagues finally understand that the equine industry in their own backyard was never treated ‘business friendly’ by the state,” Westrom said.
Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne of Oldham County said the action “highlights the importance of the horse industry to our overall agricultural economy.”
“Finally, horses in Kentucky have received the proper designation as livestock,” he said. “For years, our statutes have been unclear with the designation of horses, and as a result one of our signature industries has suffered. This designation will clear the way for tax equity and other legal parity within the entire equine industry, which will strengthen the future for years to come.
“Additionally, despite some confusion, this bill in no way opens the door for horse slaughter in Kentucky, or weakens horse protection laws. In fact, on this same day, the Legislature gave final passage to House Bill 200 to make it easier for local officials to intervene and remove horses in abuse and neglect cases. These bills combined will greatly benefit the entire equine industry in Kentucky, and help to solidify our global role as the Horse Capital of the World.”
Osborne, an owner of both Thoroughbreds and Saddlebreds, said the bill affords protections to horse farmers in ways that might surprise people.
“You can’t be included in an agricultural conservation district unless you are a livestock and agricultural enterprise,” he said. “Well, horses were not included in that definition until now. It gives you certain advantages and legal standings as far as zoning, city annexation, things like that…. Right now, it’s a crime to cut somebody’s fences if they have cattle or other livestock. But horses are not defined in that statute.”
Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield, head of the House Agriculture Committee, said SB 139 makes an overdue correction.