New Mexico governor asks USDA to stop proposed horse processing plant
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez says she plans to send a letter to the USDA, requesting that the agency deny a proposed horse slaughterhouse's request for inspections that would allow it to operate. Valley Meat Co. of Roswell has filed an application with the USDA for inspections at its facility, which would custom slaughter horses for human consumption, reports Fox News.
"Despite the federal government's decision to legalize horse slaughter for human consumption, I believe creating a horse slaughtering industry in New Mexico is wrong and I am strongly opposed," Martinez said in a statement.
The last horse slaughterhouse in the country closed down in 2007, after Congress withheld funds for USDA inspections of horse meat plants in 2006. A recently passed agriculture bill will provide the money, and several plants are now under construction.
A spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said his office so far has found no legal basis for stopping the plant, but a lawyer has been assigned to continue looking into the matter.
"A horse slaughtering plant in Roswell is a terrible idea. Such a practice, while not illegal, is certainly abhorrent to public sentiment, and I strongly suggest it be abandoned," King said in a written statement. "Horses are different and should be treated differently," he said.
Valley Meat Co. owner Rick De Los Santos defended his decision, stating that he is trying to revive his failing business, and that what he is proposing is legal. Valley Meat Co. has slaughtered cattle for 20 years, but the cost or cattle has risen dramatically, making the company unable to do business. The company once employed 40 to 45 people, but De Los Santos laid off his last 10 employees three weeks ago, reports ABC News.
"All we're doing is trying to make a living," he said. "My whole life is invested in this business."
He notes that all slaughter operations would be done under USDA inspection, and all product would be exported to Mexico.
Source: Fox News, ABC News