The biggest Matanza in the world is back on track, set for February 25 in Belen, NM.

Sponsored by the Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce, the 12th Annual Matanza was originally scheduled for January 28, but the 2012 community pig roast was briefly canceled entirely over regulatory concerns.

Talks between USDA’s Alfred Almanza, administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Hispano Chamber turned the cancelation into a mere one month delay.

Thousands of people attend the Belen Matanza, which raises money for college scholarships for Valencia County students, and pays for coats and uniforms for Belen and Los Lunas school students.

Except for the “Viva La Matanza” slogans on this year’s printed materials, much more probably won’t be said about the Hispano chamber’s day-after-Christmas decision to cancel the event.  

At that time, sponsors thought USDA would “red tag,” or shut down, the traditional event where pigs are slaughtered and roasted on-site. Led by Almanza, FSIS basically promised to leave the event itself alone.

“USDA had no intention of shutting down the Matanza,” Almanza said.  He blamed “miscommunication” for sponsors thinking only USDA-certified pork could be served at the event.

The event’s sponsors do have a food safety plan, which includes involvement by New Mexico state public health officials and training sessions in food handling.