Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

USDA Approves New Mexico Horse Slaughter Plant

Funding for inspection looking unlikely

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday granted permission for a former New Mexico beef slaughterhouse to convert its facility into one meant to slaughter horses, the Associated Press reported. Despite the permit, however, plant operations won’t begin until the federal government allows inspection, a move that is currently up in the air.

Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., will become the first U.S. facility permitted to process horse meat since Congress banned the practice in 2006. The USDA may grant similar permission to plants in Iowa and Missouri as early as sometime this week.

But before horse slaughter can take place, the USDA needs to have inspectors on site, and it’s not clear yet if or when those inspectors will be hired. The Obama administration’s fiscal budget for 2014 eliminates funding for horse meat inspection, which would effectively mean no horse slaughter could take place in the U.S. regardless of its legality.

Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $19.45 billion funding bill the USDA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration that did not allocate any money for horse meat inspection, further reducing the likelihood that slaughter would once again get off the ground.

Congress reinstated funding for horse slaughter in 2011, five years after banning it, but the USDA has not granted any facilities a slaughter permit until now. The permit comes more than a year after Valley Meats applied for one, and six months after the company sued the USDA for dragging its feet on issuing it.

© Food Safety News
  • Mackenzie Dierks

    USDA’s FSIS will grant inspectors – that was the announcement. They would be required to hire inspectors – however will most likely drag their feet because they would pretty much be fired come next winter.

  • d. lawrence

    Isn’t horse inspection voluntary, i.e., the packer pays for inspection? It doesn’t seem to me that one small slaughter plant is going to break the government. I feel that this is just stalling by the administration, hoping that they will give up. I wonder what will come next.

    • InspectorGal

      Horses have always been covered as an amenable species like cattle,swine and sheep under the Meat Inspection Act so inspection must be provided by FSIS at no charge to the processor (with the exception of holidays and overtime). You’re probably thinking of the brief period of time after the inital funding ban when the plants tried to get around it by requesting a voluntary inspection. Voluntary inspection was subsequently shot down by the federal courts and it is now mandatory that Congress fund the inspections in order for them to resume.
      It’s unlikely that FSIS will hire new inspectors. They’ll just train the inspectors they have to cover the horse plants and move people in that are being relocated or volunteer to transfer in. That still requires a huge outlay of funds for the training and there’s been a cutback on training to save money, so yeah, FSIS will drag their feed on it. Secretary Vilsack has already stated to Congress that the USDA supports a ban on funding horse inspections.

  • Rosemarie Bailey

    What is wrong with you people? Horses are companion animals not meant for human consumption and certainly American horses are not meant to be killed and then sent to Europe to be eaten. I am glad the USDA supports a ban on funding of horse inspections. I hope the slaughter house never gets the approval to kill our horses.

  • crookedstick

    Why do they need inspectors. Valley Meat got along just fine when they were a Beef operation. They had 15 feet high piles of offal and carcasses only 12 feet from silage pits. It only took them 2 years after being warned numerous times to remove them. uSDA didn’t even know they were a slaughter plant. They thought they were just processing downer cows from the dairy next door. Who needs inspectors?

  • patandtroy

    I think this is just sick!!!!!!!! Our government is insane!!!!!!!!!!!!! How could anyone eat a horse we’re not a third world country!!!!!!!

  • prioritys

    No I would not eat a horse burger, BUT, I certainly do not feel that I have the right to take away someone else’s right to choose.. I raise horses. I love my horses.. but I also love my country.. a country born from a belief that people should have individual freedoms and what we eat should most certainly not be dictated by someone else. As to the question of “what’s next” its not whether or not people will be eating there dogs and cats …but, what other freedoms will we lose to people who seem to feel superior enough to dictate the rights of others.

  • maria lopez

    this is horrible!!! Really ppl do you have nothing better to do? These horses have been in wars, delivered mail in the old days, are some peoples companions and now you have allowed an open door for people who will eventually only take a horse to be slaughtered for money! this is sick, the only people who would allow such a thing is cold hearted ones! Breaks my heart. Talk about encouraging people to start stealing peoples horses to get slaughtered for money. wasnt there a big issues in florida where people horses were disappearing?!? Heartless people!

  • TomDurfee

    As fire fighters die we cut funding to them and then fund horse slaughter.

    The U.S. Forest Service’s $2 billion-a-year firefighting budget – the government’s biggest – has been cut by 5 percent. Agency officials say that has meant 500 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer fire engines than last year. Just think of the 19 fire fighters that died, maybe if they had the funding that would be used to slaughter horses they would be alive today.

    What a great way to use Americas tax dollars.

    • 859

      we used to graze public lands to keep grass and brush under control but we no longer can

  • VegasLiz

    Praying it doesn’t pass any inspection and they can’t do this!

  • dk

    I am against the USDA opening up inspections for the proposed horse slaughter plant in Gallatin, Missouri, or in any other city or county in Missouri or in the United States. Horses in the U.S. are not raised for human consumption.

    They are our friends and companions, and as such horses are treated with drugs like cats and dogs to a wide variety of vaccinations, bacterins, topical and oral treatments that are not approved for human consumption. We use gloves with topical treatments such as Surpass, because we don’t want equine drugs touching our skin, let alone consuming them.

    It’s not economical to raise horses for slaughter in the U.S., because it takes a whole lot more money to feed a horse than it does a bovine (or cow), for example. The USDA has no business inspecting a horse slaughter plant that by default will be receiving horses that are not fit for human consumption. The horses they will be receiving have not been raised drug-free for human consumption. That’s a fact.

    As a grower of corn, wheat and soybeans, the USDA’s reputation directly affects many. The European Union, which is where most of the horse meat would go, has a zero tolerance for Bute (Phenylbutazone) , which is routinely given to horses in the U.S. It is estimated that 90% of horses in the U.S. have been treated with this drug, not to mention all of the other drugs.

    There is no way to test for all of these drugs on every horse destined for slaughter. If you don’t believe me, then keep reading. We had a horse at one of the Universities that was sick and on the premises of the University, and it took two days for us to get the test results of one test. Many tests would need to be run on each horse, and there is no way to do this in a timely fashion.

    Most of the horses destined for slaughter are young or middle-aged, and in the prime of their lives. Two that have been rescued from slaughter have gone on and are now showing at the Morgan Grand National level.

    Horse slaughter has no place in America.

  • dk

    “According to the USDA, each horse slaughter facility…would cost U.S. taxpayers over $400,000 per year in operation costs.” http://moran.house.gov/press-release/moran-statement-usda-decision-allowing-re-opening-us-horse-slaughter-facility

  • dk

    Please sign the petition to ban horse slaughter in the U.S.:
    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/ban-horse-slaughter-now

    Here is another petition, this one to Stop Horse Slaughter Factory in Missouri:
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/925/215/246/stop-horse-slaughter-factory-in-missouri/

  • DVM South Dakota

    I believe this is a good thing. Most people don’t understand what it takes to feed a horse for a year. And with backyard breeders, no regulations on breeding farms, and wild horse populations, there is an excess of horses out there that are not being cared for. I’ve seen first hand what the ban on horse slaughter has done to horses that people don’t have an outlet for. It is not pretty euthanizing horses near starvation or finding them frozen to death in the middle of winter because they don’t have enough body mass to sustain them until spring. I am all for a slaughter facility that will humanely process horse meat. And who am I to say what other cultures do for there food supply. There is a huge need for this type of industry. And I applaud the USDA for this

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000174038424 Bj Tosti

      humanely? I think you do not know what goes on. If you saw what happens you would be outraged. Go and look at some of the films taken at these slaughter houses. I saw first hand. This type of industry does not need to be anywhere in the U.S.

      • Laurel

        But isnt the inhumane treatment already referenced in the article? I believe it talks on how that evidence is used to prosecute those who mistreat .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000174038424 Bj Tosti

    our government is broken. Slaughter horses to send to other countries? Lift ban on wolves? where does their madness stop. They fight and argue like little children. They act like fools getting away with anything and everything. I hope the USDA is smart but if it comes to making the bucks they will sell out too. I would rather see these icons of the west shot where they stand on THEIR land than to have them tortured and slaughtered for some unworthy countries food. What next? cats and dogs on someone’s menu? I will watch who votes for what and a huge majority of voters will do the same. We will plaster your votes all over the internet and shame you. Best of all we will vote you out so you better be looking for another career because this one is over.

  • Donna Green

    NO MORE HORSE SLAUGHTER WHAT ARE THE CHILDREN NEXT

  • Jenn Quinteros

    What’s next… dog meat? This is just another way to profit from the economic woes of too many horses to care for. We need another alternative. Horses with all of their vaccinations and medications are not food! They serve another purpose. Lets find a way to make money that will keep horses and people safe. This is a slippery slope to allow others types of “meat” to be processed and consumed.

  • Katherine Jankay

    Anybody who thinks horse slaughter is okay are morally corrupt. We are here on earth to protect our animals, wild and domestic. Horse slaughter is such a vile, heinous act as I have seen on several videos. Anybody who has not been in a concentration camp like my Uncle, cannot understand the horror these poor horses undergo. It is NOT okay! Any of you who feel it is okay is like Hitler! You have zero compassion. For those like myself who believe horses should not be slaughtered as it is now being permitted by Secty. Sally Jewell, we must fight our own government who have been corrupted by money via the Koch Bros. and ALEC, and don’t give a damn about our environment and wildlife and even those humans who suffer the ill effects of the Tea party who shutdown our govt. and are acting like a 3rd world country. Horses are companion animals and even if they weren’t, we have a Endangered Species Act, that is supposed to protect wildlife and domestic animals as well. I cannot believe the lack of compassion that is running rampant and I bet those who think it is okay are definitely Tea party folks. Those who have commented that it is okay to kill horses have zero compassion, and that carries over into human interactions as well. I love all animals and most good-hearted folks do too.