Oklahoma’s 50-year-old ban on horse slaughtering was lifted Friday when the governor signed a new law that will allow facilities to process and export horse meat, despite bitter opposition by animal rights activists.

Supporters argue that a horse slaughtering facility in Oklahoma will provide a humane alternative for aging or starving horses, many of which are abandoned in rural parts of the state by owners who can no longer afford to care for them. Gov. Mary Fallin also noted that horses are already being shipped out of the country, including to facilities in Mexico, where they are processed in potentially inhumane conditions.