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Horse processing is likely to resume in the U.S. after six years without the availability of domestic slaughtering facilities. The last horse slaughtering plant in the U.S. closed in 2007 when Congress forbad the USDA from inspecting horse meat for human consumption. Since then, horses destined for European and other foreign food markets have been shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Now Valley Meat Company in California expects to open, in Roswell, New Mexico, the first horse processing plant since the closures.

USDA inspection and approval is required before slaughtering can take place in any processing plant. In 2011, four years after Congress banned inspections, they removed their ban after the General Accounting Office— Congress’s objective and apolitical investigative arm—bluntly reported that the unintended consequence of Congress's intrusion into the horse slaughter debate had actually harmed the welfare of the unwanted horse population.

Since the ban was lifted there has been talk in several states about opening such plants. Last fall, Valley Meat Company sued the USDA for inaction on their request for inspections, and the agency is now expected to approve their request.

According to a New York Times article, the Obama administration is urging Congress to reinstate the ban. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has petitioned the Agriculture Department and the FDA to delay approval of any horse slaughter facilities because of concerns about the presence of drugs that might have been administered to the horses.

Posted March 9, 2013

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