Equine slaughter operation planned for Roswell, N.M.

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Horse closeup
UPDATE 3/13/13 1:00 p.m.: A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act which would ban horse slaughter in the U.S. as well as shipping horses to other countries to be slaughtered for human consumption. Read more >>

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: When the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill passed without any wording prohibiting horse meat inspections for the first time since 2007, the long-simmering issue of horse slaughter came to the forefront. Now, the prospect of commercial horse slaughter on American soil appears more imminent than ever as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers approving an equine slaughterhouse in Roswell, N.M.

Processing horse meat for human consumption has never been explicitly illegal in the United States, but when the USDA was prohibited from funding horse meat inspections beginning in 2006, it created a de facto ban as no meat could be exported without federal inspection. A 2007 ruling closed a loophole that had allowed the last equine slaughterhouse in Illinois to continue operating by paying for its own inspections.

While no commercial horse slaughter facilities have been in operation in the U.S. for more than five years, the issue has never gone away. The meat industry and some ranchers and horse owners argue that legal horse slaughter in the U.S. is a reasonable way to deal with excess horses and is more humane than sending horses to other countries to be slaughtered. Other horse owners and animal welfare advocates point out that horses are raised to be sport and companion animals, not grown for meat, and because of their sensitive nature commercial slaughtering of horses is inherently inhumane. Food safety advocates have also weighed in, suggesting that medications routinely given to horses are unsafe for human consumption, and since horses are not raised for meat, their medication history is unknown when they are slaughtered.

In spite of the controversy, the owner of a shuttered cattle slaughterhouse has pushed forward with plans to reopen his facility as a horse processing plant. The facility, Valley Meat in Roswell, N.M., was profiled on CNN along with its owner, Ricardo De Los Santos. The slaughterhouse could open as soon as next month if it is approved by the USDA. (The video does not show horses being slaughtered, but has visuals that may be disturbing to some.)

According to a February 28 article in the New York Times, the slaughterhouse has not yet been given the OK to begin operation, but approval looks likely. USDA spokesperson Justin DeJong told the Times that several companies had asked the government to allow horsemeat inspection again.

“These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and the [Food Safety and Inspection Service] must complete its inspector training,” said DeJong. “But at that point, the department will legally have no choice but to go forward with the inspections.”

U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D-VA), a longtime proponent of banning horse slaughter, released a statement on March 8 in response to reports of the New Mexico plant becoming a reality.

“Recent news reports of horse slaughter plants reopening are deeply troubling,” said Moran. “As one of the nearly 80 percent of Americans who oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption, we must fight to prevent the resumption of this inhumane, unsafe, and unnecessary practice. At a time when USDA’s meat inspection budget is being slashed by sequestration, it would be irresponsible to divert dwindling food inspection resources to the horsemeat industry.

“I am pleased that the Obama Administration supports the reinstatement of the amendment I have offered to ban USDA inspections at horse slaughter plants,” Moran continued. “[I] will being working with my colleagues in the coming weeks to include that language in the final Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bill.”

Further Reading
Timeline of Horse Slaughter in the U.S.
How Humane is Horse Slaughter?

28 COMMENTS

  1. I hope this plant never goes through, but there needs to be someplace for people to take/put their horses when life situation changes. Rather than letting them strave.

  2. I will be praying that this never happens. Just like they say, “…we must fight to prevent the resumption of this inhumane, unsafe, and unnecessary practice…” I totally agree, since I am already a huge animal activist, and especially don’t believe in the inhumane (or even “humane”) slaughter of horses at all. Ever. It’s totally appalling anyone would ever do this (or even be ABLE to do it!). I think there should be a petition made to stop this.

  3. I am going to do anything I can to stop this horrible thing! I cannot beleive that people would even consider allowing this. All of you are down right sickening.

  4. I will do what I can to see that this never comes real, but there needs to be programs in place where people can take their horse(s), if needed. Say if they are moving to a city, and can not afford board, or lose theeir jobs, horses cost alot to feed, then what……Not everyone is honest when they say they will take the horses for free, and turn around to sell them or send them to slaughter in Canada or Mexico.

  5. I don’t care WHAT “Legal” things you are doing, these horses are WAYYYY more important than any of our petty “legal” matters. This should be banned FOREVER. NO EXCUSES.

  6. NO NO NO, this is a sin, HORSES were not created to be food. if this passes, I pray this does not pass, I do not care what the other people say, it is more humane, better to be slaughtered than neglected, etc. Those that are doing the neglecting need to bee the ones to pay the price. This is an atrocity.I see trucks on the highway , with horses that have known better days, and it breaks my heart because I know they are going to Mexico.THIS HAS TO BE STOPPED!

  7. The only “excess” horse’s that will be slaughtered are the ones breeders/show/racers discard, relatively young and fat. You won’t see neglected/skinny/old horse’s in those pens, the slaughter house’s reject them and will not accept them. Horse slaughter facilities will bring nothing but environmental destruction, area communities will have to deal/pay for clean up, water contamination and the unusable byproducts laying in the open air, creating a stench and varmit problem. There’s no traceable way to see the history of the horse nor chemical history. Show/race horse’s ALL have had a wormer or bute treatment but the meat will still be shipped. So far, USA has no record of horse meat in the “beef” products but what’s to stop it from happening if a horse slaughter house opens? If there’s no inspectors, there’s no tracking.
    There’s enough rescue and assistance programs out there that can help ANY horse owner, if they are having financial problems or just want their horse to go into “retirement”.
    No money in horse slaughter house’s either. Few low paying jobs and foreign plant owners who pay no taxes but get government subsidies, your money. Look in the past, why the plants were closed in the first place. Don’t let it happen again.

  8. Who on a federal level can stop this?? That info needs to be posted for those of us who are horrified and feel helpless. I can only protect my horse with my life and a gun. Horse theft will be on an all time high. What’s the penalities for stealing a horse. Back in the day you steal a man’s horse you hang. Who’s going to protect, and what part of the judical system in the US going to prosicute and punish.There will never be justice for the thousands of horses murdered for greed and PROFIT!! There needs to be cheap birth control vacines for the responsible horse owner to control the population of their own mares(I know keep studs out) Oh that’s a bigger can of worms. Shame on the human race if we start needing to eat what ever tastes good with BBQ sause.

  9. This is absolutely disgusting. Horses ARE more than just livestock. To all of us horse enthusiasts, they ARE companions. With these new slaughter plants opening up, none of us horse owners can be sure of where our horses are going if we sell them. The horses in these slaughter houses are NOT humanely treated, from the time they are crammed into those horrible so-called “trailers” until their final breath. Many times the bolting gun doesn’t even work, and the horses are still fully conscious when the (evil) workers start slaughtering them. There is no such thing as an “unwanted” horse. Thousands of girls and young ladies have dreamed for years of a horse of their own. I know I did.

  10. I can not believe you are going to shoot a nail gun into a horses head, just like you did with other live stock, don’t you know how inhumane that is!!! We had a cow/Bull slaughter house on our land in the 60’s growing up in West Boxford Ma and i tell you as a young girl of 7 I walked in the back of the slaughter house and seen this poor cow hanging up then all of a sudden a very sharp knife sliced him down the middle from his throat i went screaming out of the slaughter house and that was the last time I ate Beef. I am almost 53 years old and had 4 kids and i refused to buy Beef and cook it for them and they knew why and i showed them the old slaughter house. Now my kids are animal people and now your talking about doing this to horses…you people are so inhumane to think a nail gun will put the horse out of its misery what these animals need is an humane shot that will put them to sleep like you would do for your own family pet if they were very sick. this is humane I understand about the population and all that but animals have walked this earth longer than us. You need to give them respect….I and hundreds and now maybe thousands have sent that new video and information around the world…i hope you listen to what we ask for and that is to give our animals respect and to die and be used as food for those who choose to eat it give them their dignity!!!!! I and my family will never eat meat, but that is just hundreds and there is millions….just hope the people do not boy cot this inhumane way of doing thing….Please re think on how you are going to do things PLEASE!

  11. I agree with Donna , Catie and the like comments, Horses are not like other livestock , they are much more than that. They are our companions , our sanity! They deserve respect and owners need to take responsibility for them . If there is unwanted horses out there , then maybe other things need to be looked at. Such as legal , established horse sanctuaries/foster/adoption places. Start some kind of organizations that would sponsor responsible citizens to start such endeavors without red tape restrictions. I’m considering starting a rescue myself. There needs to be lower cost gelding programs. Need to stop the backyard breeding mentality. Adopt/foster No Horse Slaughter!!!!!

  12. Why do this to the most beautiful creature on the whole face of this earth! Horses carried our soldiers through war and this how they are treated!! 🙁 Horses need more respect than that.

  13. This is disgusting! Horses spend their lives working for us and doing their best to please us and this is how we repay them? Its horrible, inhumane and it disgusts me that people could do this to such beautiful, gentle, loving creatures.

  14. There is plenty of safe meat on the market from animals that are not noted to provide companionship and offer healing to many troubled individuals. This whole idea of eating these elegant, sensitive creatures repulses me, is totally shocking. What is wrong with this man in Roswell that he can’t find something else to do but slaughter innocent, trusting creatures?

  15. Sick and twisted! Horses have done so much for us, and all we do in return is slaughter them??? That seems morbid! Horses are intelligent creatures that do not deserve this kind of thing whatsoever. There are other animals for eating (that are better than horses!), so why kill horses? They usually slaughter the horses inhumanely and cruelly. Horses are helpful in so many other ways! Why does THIS have to be one of the ways humans use them???

  16. Guess that won’t go threw, seeing as the state of OK just approved a horse slaughter plant. All the prohorse slaughter people on the BLM board are took advantage of the pending bill, during their conferance in OK last week. OK has one of the largest Mustang holding pens, isn’t that handy!
    Funny, I don’t remember reading about anyone wanting the horse slaughter plant, other than AQHA and the BLM, plus breeders etc. Easy way out for all. No sick/neglected/old will be accepted by the horse slaughter plants, only 5-7 fat horses. There will not be any decrease in unwanted/abused/neglected horse’s. No one is fooled. It’s all about money and we all know the BLM is in really hot water, what with all the Mustangs they’ve taken, so the cattle/sheep how “room to roam” and the ranchers have a cheap ticket to feed their stock.

  17. This is sick. Horses aren’t meant to be eaten. They’re meant to be ridden or used to pull carriages and stuff. And to the person in the video who said they’re not meant to be a pet or whatever, yes they are. Cows aren’t really of any use besides being eaten and the same goes for pigs. IDK, horses are just different than other animals, and I don’t think this is right.
    And plus, they won’t be getting rid of the horses that may actually NEED to be put down. They’re gonna be killing tons of perfectly good, HEALTHY young horses that could’ve been great for 4-H and stuff.

  18. What’s wrong with sticking with beef and chicken and pork!?!? Why do people think they need horse meat to eat?

  19. Honestly I don’t get it! If there is a law already that says there can’t be horse slaughterhouses in the US then why do they want to change that law?

  20. g0d did not put horses on this earth for man to eat they were put for us to love and to look after any one who would eat horses meat is sick person there cows and sheep and goats and deer that is what was put here for us to eat why dont he go back to cows

  21. Horse slaughter is not only cruel and inhumane to horses, it is harmful to humans as well. In its lifetime, a horse is given medications and other toxic substances that would be harmful to humans and animals that consume its meat. Horse meat is not sold in the United States, but it is exported to other countries.
    Horses are beautiful, intelligent animals that bring joy and friendship into our lives. We need to protect these sensitive animals from being killed.
    Horses can’t speak for themselves, but we can be their voice. Let congress know that Americans won’t stand by while these precious animals are butchered.
    Please don’t be a bystander, be a rescuer! Follow this link to act today:
    http://act.wildhorsepreservation.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=13157

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