Economics

U.S. Approves 2nd Horse Slaughterhouse, but Renews Bid for Ban

BY Charles Abbott, Reuters.com | | Comments (0)

The U.S. government approved a horse slaughter plant in Iowa on Tuesday, its second such move in four days, but it also renewed its appeal to Congress to ban the business and was hit by a lawsuit from animal welfare groups.

In a statement, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it was required by law to issue a “grant of inspection” to Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, because it met all federal requirements. USDA will also be obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant.

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” the USDA said in a statement. “Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law.”

An application from a Missouri company was also expected to win approval this week.

Valley Meats in Roswell, New Mexico, on Friday became the first horse plant to clear the USDA review process since a ban on horse slaughter ended in 2011.

Five animal welfare groups filed suit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to overturn the approvals, saying the Agriculture Department did not conduct environmental reviews before acting. The groups say horses are given medications not approved for livestock so the waste products of slaughter plants may include pollutants.

“America is the original home of the horse and has never been a horse-eating culture,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom, one of the litigants. “Horses have been our companions, fought battles with us, worked sun-up to sundown by our sides … we will not abandon them now.”

Horse meat cannot be sold as food in the United States, but it can be exported.

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