Valley Meat Co., headquartered in Roswell, N.M., is suing the federal government in order to begin horse slaughter operations. The company is alleging inaction in its application to resume inspections was driven by emotional political debates and has cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars, reports the Associated Press.

The company and its owner, Rick de los Santos, is also suing the Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue, and Animal Protection of New Mexico, accusing the organizations of defamation during a yearlong dispute. Valley Meat Co. is attempting to become the first new horse slaughterhouse in more than five years.

De los Santos said that after Congress effectively removed a ban on horse slaughter in the US., he talked with the USDA about converting his cattle slaughterhouse to handle horses. He was told that he had to stop slaughter cattle to get the proper permits, which he did. In the process, he says that he was stonewalled by the USDA as publicity about his plans led to an increased debate on what to do with abused and abandoned horses.

The defamation suit alleged that the horse protection groups actively tried to destroy his business. Bruce Wagman, an attorney for Front Range Equine, called the lawsuit "completely false and frivolous," and said the group did nothing wrong.

Source: AP, ABC News