Oklahoma has a plan to shut down an agri-food waste farm in the state’s southeast and relocate the remaining cows to a farm in Nebraska.
The state’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Wildlife will review an application submitted by a group that runs the land and its animals.
It will determine whether to seize the land for future farming and sell the animals, according to a statement from the department.
It also will determine if the livestock could be used for food.
Agriculture Secretary Greg Miller said the agency will make a decision by March, but he would not comment further.
Miller said the land is owned by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and the landowner has until the end of the month to decide whether to keep it.
“We’ll make that determination based on what we think are the best interests of the Oklahoma population,” he said.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife is currently considering a landowner’s application to seize a 4,500-acre farm that the agency says it is planning to build on a nearby site for a cattle-raising operation.
State wildlife officials have spent months studying whether to take the land, which has a population of more than 10,000 cattle, and move the animals to Nebraska.
Miller, who has led the effort to relocate the animals since the land was purchased by the state in 2013, said in the statement that he and the Department of State would work with the Oklahoma Department on the decision.
“I am confident that with our best judgment and our best people, the Department will come to the best decision for the public and the animals in this case,” he wrote.
Miller noted that the Department has not been given a timeline to make the decision, but said the department will take into account all the available information and other factors.
State lawmakers in the western part of the state, including the Democratic governor and Republican senators, have voiced concern about the proposed move.
In a letter to Miller last month, Republican Senator Chris Kapenga said the proposed farm “is not a farm at all but an open-air slaughterhouse.”
State Rep. Dan Miller, a Republican, said he plans to call the state agriculture secretary and ask him to take action.
“He should act immediately to protect Oklahoma’s wildlife and protect the animals,” he told Reuters.
“The people of Oklahoma deserve to know that we are taking all of the information we can get.”
The state of Oklahoma is considering buying the land.
The purchase price of the land will be determined by the land’s current owner.