New Era Begins for U.S. Horse Slaughterhouses

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In effect ending the nation's six-year ban on horse slaughter, the U.S. government has given the green light to a New Mexico company seeking permitting for a facility to slaughter horses for human consumption. The last U.S. horse-meat plant closed years ago, after the U.S. Congress banned funding for inspection of horse-slaughter plants.

But the nationwide ban lapsed in 2011 and, on Friday, the federal government gave its strongest indication yet that a new era of horse slaughter was about to begin.

"The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter," wrote U.S. Department of Agriculture press secretary Courtney Rowe in an e-mail, according to Bloomberg News. "Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law."

Simply put, the USDA issued a permit to a pending horse slaughter operation in Roswell, N.M., and is expected to issue permits for similar facilities in Missouri and Iowa.

A report in a Dec. 5, 2011 edition of the Twin Falls Times-News said Idaho may be considered an ideal spot for a horse slaughterhouse "because it is agriculturally based and contains high amounts of unwanted horses."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it is “dismayed” by the USDA decision. “Horse slaughter is inherently cruel,” the organization said in a statement.

“Moving ahead with a government program to fund horse slaughter inspections is a cruel, reckless and fiscally irresponsible move,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA government relations.

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