Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New horse slaughter plant in New Mexico passes inspection, draws objections

Rick De Los Santos stands in front of his horse
slaughter plant. (AP photo by Jeri Clausing)
A proposed horse processing plant in New Mexico passed an inspection Tuesday by the Department of Agriculture, moving it one step closer to being the first to operate in the U.S. since 2007, Jeri Clausing reports for The Associated Press. Horse slaughter has been the topic of heated debates across the country, and the owners of the New Mexico plant say they have received death threats.

Congress forbade the use of federal money for inspection of horse meat, then reversed itself in 2011. Plant owner Rick De Los Santos applied for inspection in December of that year. He also applied for inspection in March, 2012 and March of this year, but USDA dithered. Now President Obama's proposed budget would again disallow funds for inspection, putting the issue back before Congress.

Front Range Equine Rescue, a horse-advocacy group, sent USDA a letter "asking it not to grant permission for Mr. De Los Santos to operate the facility because he had failed to disclose two felonies on his original application form, as well as on a second, subsequent form," Stephanie Strom reports for The New York Times, whose story notes other missteps in De Los Santos's background.

The 7,200-square-foot slaughterhouse has one kill floor and two processing rooms that can process 50 to 100 horses a day into meat for shipment overseas, Clausing reports. De Los Santos said, "They are being slaughtered anyway. We thought, well, we will slaughter them here and provide jobs for the economy." Others don't feel the same way, and have been fighting to keep the plants from opening. We have covered the horse-slaughter debate here, here, and here.

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