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Outside groups line up on both sides of horse slaughter debate

Advocates for resuming horse slaughter in Oklahoma decry out-of-state critics, saying it's an issue for Oklahomans alone to decide. But pro-slaughter groups from outside Oklahoma also are influencing the discussion.
by William Crum Published: March 18, 2013

“I was a Marine,” he said. “I like to fight.”

The horse industry has “never taken a hit like it's taking now,” Duquette said. Basic saddle horses that used to be worth $1,200 to $3,500 sell for a fraction of the price now, he said.

“It's a direct effect of the end of horse slaughter,” Duquette said.

Duquette said he has 20,000 people on his email list.

He had people lined up from five surrounding states for Wednesday's pro-slaughter rally at the Capitol “but they wanted Oklahoma people to be there,” he said.

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau took the lead in promoting the event.

“I've been more of a helper to get horse people there,” Duquette said. “When they decided they wanted it on a certain day we got the word out.”

Targeting voters

Lucas, founder of Lucas Oil Products, is chairman and founding board member of Protect the Harvest.

Helland said Protect the Harvest is targeting rural Oklahoma voters with its statewide radio campaign and with a social media campaign through Facebook.

He declined to say what Protect the Harvest is spending, though records show its spots on KTOK, 1000-AM in Oklahoma City, cost $6,600 over a two-week period.

Ads were placed by Victory Enterprises of Davenport, a political and corporate consulting and communications firm founded by another former Iowa state representative, Steve Grubbs, who formerly was chairman of the Iowa Republican Party.

The Humane Society of the United States is a particular target of Protect the Harvest.

The group has an Oklahoma state director, Cynthia Armstrong, who has organized opposition to the horse slaughtering bills. Helland said farmers and ranchers “very much feel under fire” by the Humane Society.

The threat of outsiders telling Oklahomans how to manage agricultural policy was a theme running through Wednesday's pro-slaughter State Capitol rally led by the Farm Bureau.

Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers and Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union, said advocates regretted criticism and harassment directed toward the bills' sponsors by “fearmongers from other states.”

Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, author of the House bill, said out-of-state animal rights extremists needed to “start discussing facts instead of playing on the emotions and sensationalizing this issue.”

And House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said legislative leaders were drawing “a line in the sand” with the bills.

“We're here to make the statement loud and clear that Oklahomans will not be intimidated by outside interest groups telling us how we should take care of Oklahomans,” he said.