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Judge’s Ruling Favors USDA Providing Horse Slaughter Inspections

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not required to conduct an Environmental impact Statement nor an Environmental Assessment in order to grant equine-inspection services to businesses planning to pack horsemeat for export, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Armijo ruled Friday.

The judge denied the request by animal-welfare groups for a permanent injunction and dismissed the case challenging USDA’s authority.

The decision is a massive loss for the Humane Society of the United States, which largely funded the lawsuit and enlisted 15 other groups and individuals to join it as plaintiffs.

It was a defining victory for the U.S. Department of Justice attorneys who reaffirmed USDA powers contained in the Federal Meat Inspection Act that go back more than 100 years. It means that horse slaughter for human consumption in other countries could resume shortly under USDA inspection for the first time since 2006.

“Valley Meat Company, LLC, and Rains Natural Meats are both very pleased with the decision of Judge Armijo,” said Albuquerque attorney A. Blair Dunn.  “This is a very well-reasoned and through opinion. Valley and Rains are very grateful for the hard work and thought that Judge Armijo put into this decision. Both companies will now focus on final preparations to open and begin work.”

Both Valley Meats and Rains Natural Meats, along with Iowa’s Responsible Transportation, obtained grants of inspection from USDA. The two businesses which Dunn represents are now going forward with their plans, while the Iowa firm’s intentions now are not known.

Armijo, the chief federal judge in New Mexico, sided with USDA’s historic interpretation of its governing law, namely that it has little or no discretion over whether to issue a grant of inspection. Instead, she ruled that USDA has a duty to inspect meat and meat products even of the unpopular equine variety.

At one time, she noted, the Secretary of Agriculture was given the “discretion” to provide inspectors, but Congress changed that to “the Secretary shall provide such inspectors.”

Since the horse and animal-welfare groups sued USDA four months ago, nationally known animal-law attorney Bruce A. Wagman had argued that inspection decisions fell under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Policy Act (APA). But the federal court found these only apply to discretionary agency actions, not to those mandated by law.

Other federal laws and rules enforced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also apply to horse-slaughter facilities, including requirements for hazard and sanitation plans, humane animal handling and proper sanitary conditions.  The three equine packing houses had met those requirements as part of the USDA grant of inspection process.

While horsemeat is a source of protein for consumers in Asia and Europe, no issue involving animal agriculture stirs emotions more in the U.S  than does horse slaughter.

Through a spokesman, the HSUS is promising to “not only appeal the decision but also to work with the states to block the plants from opening in Iowa, Missouri and New Mexico and step up efforts in Congress to stop the slaughter of American horses – in the states and also in Canada and Mexico.”

“Our legislative and legal activities have prevented horse slaughtering on American soil since 2007,” added Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “With today’s court ruling and the very real prospect of plants resuming barbaric killing of horses for their meat in the states, we expect the American public to recognize the urgency of the situation and to demand that Congress take action. Court fights and state legislative battles have been important, but this is an issue of national importance and scale, and Congress should have an up-or-down vote on the subject.”

In the now-dismissed case, both sides agreed to allow the judge to hear it on an expedited basis. An appeal would likely go to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court in Denver.

 

© Food Safety News
  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    It’s a massive loss for anyone who is not only concerned about horses, but also the quality of meat in this country.

    This is also about stretching thin an already thin inspection core, in order to inspect meat that won’t be eaten in this country, won’t lead to a lot of jobs, and will only benefit a few people.

    You’re so caught up in your dislike of HSUS, for whatever libertarian reason, that you lost sight of the big picture.

  • Bill Cameron

    No more beef in this household. The Cattlemen’s Association and the rest of Big Ag are turning this whole country vegan and they’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

  • CM

    Finally, consumers who desire a wholesome, safe, nutritious and affordable food source will be able to purchase horsemeat, and horse owners desiring to utilize this market to sell their horses are now able to count on financial income the same as beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and other animal based farms are able to tap their respected meat markets. We know the bullying tactics and outright spewed lies of the evil HSUS and anti-slaughter people will continue and we are braced to continue our fight-not just for horse owners and breeders-but for ALL Americans who value our constitiution and our very basic right and freedom to eat what we desire and to own and market our PERSONAL property!!!

    • Barb3000

      What about the vet drugs that every horse in the US has been given at one time or other in its life time. Every barn in the US contains a bottle of bute used to relieve pain. None of these drugs are to be given to any animal raised for food. Period! US horses are NOT RAISED FOR FOOD IN THE US.

      • CM

        People who may be reading this: this reply is a prime example ot the outright LIES that anti-horse slaughter people spew!!! I am a licensed dairy farmer, I sell not only milk, but beef, goat meat, poultry , and have a license to sell eggs, even though I exited the egg industry a few years ago. I also am a horse breeder, and , along with EVERY other sincere horse breeder I know, welcome the horsemeat market as a valued customer!!! Our horses are raised to sell to the highest bidder-exactly the same as our other animal ag based industries-which INCLUDES the meat market!! Just like our other species that enter the food chain, our horses are FREE of ANY medication whatsoever-and we give written, signed testimony at the sale-the exactly same as other species!! The outright LUDICROUS comment that “every horse in the US has been given …..every barn …contains a bottle of bute…” is BEYOND an absurd LIE !!!! First, we do NOT give “bute” nor does many other horse breeders I know. Second, “bute” can be given to cattle and hogs extra label- but is not the drug of choice, and lastly, ALL medications have a withdrawal period-”bute” included-whereby it is COMPLETELY broken down and eliminated by the animals’ body and thus is NOT present in the meat!!! People, PLEASE consult a veterinarian pharmacist to inquire about drug residues in meat-do NOT listen to the LIES spewed by the anti-horse slaughter people!!! They are so desparate to force their opinion onto others and to infringe on horse owners’ freedoms and rights they resort to name-calling and flurries of OUTRIGHT LIES!!! Aside from a few species-specific vaccines, our horses receive the EXACT SAME medication that our cattle, goats, sheep, and hogs get ( when needed) Horse meat IS SAFE, nutritious, affordable and DELICIOUS, and the animals are processed just as humanely as ANY other specie!!!

        • JanWindsong

          You are ridiculous. Good that you r5aise your horses for meat. How long have you been doing that? Since it is illegal to sell. And let me tell you, since you don’t know, that cattle and any other aninmal that is raised for “show” is thoroughly tested for and rejected more times than not, as food for humans. The drugs given to them are illegal to feed if that animal is at any time to be used as human food. But since horses are illegal for human consumption in the US, just where are you carrying on your business? You are one of the problems here with your own set of OUTRIGHT lies! There is no withdrawal in the game of “not to be used in an animal intended for human consumption” unless there are some people who are so much smarter than others, who decide which laws to break and which to follow. So again, which state to you live in that allows you to raise and sell horses for human consumption?

        • CM

          This response is for the UNbiased people who are reading this thread-I do NOT argue with TRASH, I just let it rot away in its own putrid stench. If you have ANY concerns about the wholesomeness of horse meat, I urge you to contact the horsemeat suppliers, the USDA, and the FDA – animal health dept. and the people who directly handle horses processed for meat, and get the TRUTH. Do NOT be mislead by OUTRIGHT LIES perpetuated by groups of rabid, nasty self-righteous zeolots who are so set on forcing their beliefs on everyone that they use whatever illegal, immoral, and False form of propaganda they can to push it upon people. We have been viciously attacked by anti-slaughter people, they have made death threats, continually name-call us and our families, and much more, but we will continue to stand up to these bullies and the LIES they continue to spread!! I stand behind EVERY word I have written as TRUTH. Whether you want to consume horsemeat is completely up to you, we do not believe in pushing our beliefs upon others, but, as a multi-specie animal based farmer and horsemeat proponent, I will guarantee you that horsemeat is JUST as SAFE, WHOLESOME, and HUMANELY PROCESSED as ANY other meat produced in the USA…

  • crookedstick

    This is terrific! I have plans to open a cat and dog slaughtering plant? Now that I know that USDA SHALL inspect it, I am ready to move forward. Do you think the two species can be killed in the same facility ? This will be a very humane way to clear out the shelters. Also, some enterprising entrepreneurs may choose to raise puppies just for this purpose I can envision stuffed puppies for Thanksgiving. Thanks, Sue wallis for a great idea.

  • savinghorses2

    Ok. Since HSUS are Not Bullies and I heard the Radio Shows where Sue Wallis popped a vein and talked badly to Wayne without provocation. I am not an activist, I am a professional trainer and I have talked to many people who Now scared to send horses out for training cause Sue Wallis wants slaughter. Shebullies her way over anyone who wont let her murder horses. Yes Sue they are Livestock but you are Abusing Your Office And Offending People Who Care about animals More than you. Whens the last time you saved something you did Not Eat? Never. Where did you make contributions to help animals if you hate HSUS except to an organization like United Horsemen that is supporting Exactly whay you Accuse HSUS of. If people donate to Your cause they only wind up with Dead or Stolen pets, which is what u say of HSUS. U profit off the horsemans lossez, personally financially gain. Same thing you Accuse others of. You Are Begging for Money because You want the TAXPAYERS DUPED INTO VOLUNTEERING CASH. This is your brainchild to act as though your a suffering small business person againstGoliath. But the fact is thats a fraud. You are begging these people to give up their hard earned dollars when the pricez of horses Already is rising because of Honest Horse People, NOTYOU! This is the most repugnant scam on the horse industry that has played out….to incite FEAR or your horse will die at slaughter to force prices higher is sick. You are Not any small business, in fact, the truth is you just cannot get the financing and so you keep demanding it it from private parties. If you do not like the organizations amd you had so called truth on your side, why did you have to keep changing horsemeat on wikipedia? Because it originally didnt describe it the way you do. Or why did the GOA have to be.falsified? Because it would have sunk your ship, last why did the tribe lie and say 75,000 Horses dying, its been publicly corrected only 11000 and their fine. Why do you have twist the truth? Why not move to a country and enjoy your cheval there?

  • dk

    Please ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the Safeguard American Food Exports act, which will ban slaughter in the U.S. and the shipment for slaughter to Canada and Mexico. Safeguard American Food Exports act is S. 541 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 1094 in the U.S. House of Representatives. This website makes it easy to contact your elected officials: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

  • dk

    We do not want the proposed horse slaughter plant, Rains Natural Meats, to open in Gallatin, Mo. Horses being shipped for slaughter are not required to have health certificates. This means all types of diseases from out of state horses could enter Missouri.

    Furthermore, there are over 100 equine drugs that we (the collective horse owners) give our horses that make them unfit for human consumption. The USDA has no business getting mixed up in this.

    Additionally, this plant would cost U.S. taxpayers $400,000.00 per year for the USDA inspections, and the meat would be shipped overseas.

    Also, we would be worried about horse thieves stealing horses in the surrounding area for slaughter, especially in this economy.

    What’s more, toxic waste from the plant could contaminate the entire area from a lagoon that has been dug in the clay at Rains Natural Meats, and the Grand River is nearby and is downhill from there. The area is also porous with limestone, and clay cracks.

    Finally, slaughter plants want the healthy horses and never the old or sick horses. These are horses that could benefit the community as therapy horses for children and veterans, or as police mounts.

    Please sign the petition to Ban Horse Slaughter in Gallatin, Missouri, and share! Thank you!

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/ban-horse-slaughter-in

  • please think

    i would like to know what about all of the starving horses out there just let them die a slow painful death we need away to cut back on horses the rescues are full every were no donations to keep running people hunt deer so there is not to many the horse meat could be use for zoos dog food i do not think meat buyers should get the best horses there are or babys but i do think some thing should be done when you call the Humane Society they tell you the are full put them down what about people who lost their job with no money how do they do that and if no one wants them then what they die slow please think

    • JanWindsong

      Sorry – but the only people who will starve a horse to death are those who believe slaughter should be an option.

  • JanWindsong

    Why don’t we ever see signs that read “Cash paid for Unwanted Cattle?” I’ll tell you why.

  • JanWindsong

    Horse meat is so attractive, why then is it snuck into people’s food? http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/10/horsemeat-found-in-uk-canned-beef/

  • Sam

    Plz read and there are many more facts/documents, ect out there, tks. via/ http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2012/ucm313462.htm

  • Mark NightWolf

    sickening i hear Chinese groups are petitioning for dog meat from American Shelters to be sold to China for food processing!