LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers have advanced a measure that would lead to the creation of a meat and poultry inspection program.

The bill by Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill would lay the groundwork for a program with a detailed study and a recommended fees to pay for the program.

Larson said Wednesday that the legislation could pave the way for horse meat processing, although the practice has drawn criticism from some animal rights groups and the federal government has effectively banned it.

The nation's last three horse processing facilities closed in 2007 after Congress cut an appropriation for horse meat inspection. Federal authorities have said a ban that prevents U.S. Department of Agriculture from inspecting horse meat applies to states.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.