The attorney for a New Mexico firm that previously sought approval to process horses is blaming some equine advocates for the company’s livestock processing application withdrawal. Some of those advovates, however, are defending their actions.
Prior to 2007, USDA personnel carried out horsemeat inspections at U.S. horse processing plants. In 2007, Congress voted to strip the USDA of funding required to pay personnel conducting such inspections at the last two operational domestic equine processing plants. Federal funding bills continued to include language denying funding for horsemeat inspections until 2011, when Congress passed an appropriations bill that failed to contain language specifically forbidding the USDA from using federal dollars to fund horse slaughter plant inspections. Shortly after that bill became law, the New Mexico-based Valley Meat Co., LLC applied for and received a horse processing permit.
Shortly thereafter, in April 2013, the Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) brought a federal lawsuit challenging that any permit issued to Valley Meats on grounds that the USDA failed consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the processing plant’s potential impact on the environment. And in December 2013, New Mexico’s Attorney General Gary King filed a lawsuit asking the court to stop Valley Meats’ potential horse processing operation on grounds that the firm allegedly had a poor record of complying with state environmental rules.
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