Companion animal or livestock? Kentucky bill over equine status heads for state Senate



Horses are a step closer to being considered livestock by law in Kentucky, following the passing of a bill by the state’s Senate Agriculture Committee last week.

Securing livestock classification of horses and other equines has been among the top policy priorities of the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), since it was founded in 2004.

Sen. Robin Webb of Carter County sponsored Senate Bill 139, which she said she’d been working on for several years.

SB-139 will next move to consideration by the full Senate.

Webb stressed the designation is important to make sure that horses are not classified as companion animals, similar to household pets. She emphasized that her bill did not deal with taxation, with the state’s 6-percent sales tax required when buying feed, bedding and equipment used for equines, with all other livestock exempt.

“We hope to address that at another time, with tax reform or in another measure,” Webb said. “It’s designation of the horse being what it is: And that’s livestock.

“Our statutes have been historically inconsistent with the designation of the horse as livestock.”

“SB 139 would be a great step forward for the horse industry as a whole,” said KEEP executive director Joe Clabes. “Designation as livestock is the most reflective of the realities of breeding, owning and caring for horses and we’re proud to stand in support of this bill with the AAEP and the numerous Kentucky horse organizations from across the state.”

Agriculture commissioner Ryan Quarles, who represented Scott County as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, applauded the action.

Horses graze on a farm in bluegrass country, south of Paris, Kentucky.
Horses graze on a farm in bluegrass country, south of Paris, Kentucky. © Peter Fitzgerald  [CC BY-SA 2.5 ] / Wikipedia
“It’s a clarification that has been attempted for several years now,” Quarles said. “As agriculture commissioner, I always remind people of the economic impact that horses have in Kentucky. It’s a signature industry, one that creates literally tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars of investment here in Kentucky. As I continue my term as commissioner, I will be supporting not only our family farms, but our family horse farmers as well.”

Sen. Dorsey Ridley of Henderson, whose district includes the Ellis Park racetrack, said: “It just puts them all (livestock) in one classification. It’s an effort to make sure that horses are certainly not taken advantage of, but by the same token, it’s to protect our property. I was glad to be a part of it. It is a big thing for the Thoroughbred industry — and for all horses.”

One thought on “Companion animal or livestock? Kentucky bill over equine status heads for state Senate

  • March 5, 2017 at 10:54 am

    This is a bad bill that really will promote horse slaughter as well as remove what few protections horses have from abuse in KY IMO. Please call Frankfort, KY at 1-800-372-7181 and urge opposition . Leave a message for Senator Jimmy Higdon as I think he’ll oppose this bill and you’ll support him. Call the sponor too if you want to and tell him horses are classified by the FDA as domestic animals like cats and dogs. They are NOT livestock as they are NOT raised for food. Thanks


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