Horse Slaughter Request Spurs Outcry

By on Sat, Apr 14, 2012

Slaughter Plant Owner Defends Horse Meat Scheme

New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez says NO to Horse Slaughter

LAS CRUCES – A Roswell area meat-processing plant’s bid to begin slaughtering horses for human consumption in foreign markets has sparked a bipartisan backlash by high-profile state figures, including the governor.

But Rick De Los Santos, part-owner of Valley Meat Co., said he is just trying to fill a niche, provide jobs and continue production in a plant he has operated for 22 years. The plant would be the first in the nation in recent years.

“I have applied to be able to slaughter equine, and that’s all I’ve done. If I get it (USDA approval), I get it. If I don’t, I don’t know what I’ll do,” said De Los Santos, 52, who said he laid off his last 10 employees three weeks ago because of the lack of work. “It’s not against the law. Now it’s legal to slaughter horses in the U.S. for human consumption. People here might not want it, but there are people who do want it.”

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, and Attorney General Gary King and State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, both Democrats, voiced opposition to the horse slaughtering plan Friday.

King called the prospect of a horse slaughtering operation in the Roswell area “a terrible idea” while Powell, a veterinarian, said: “New Mexico can do much better by these intelligent and gentle creatures.”

Martinez’s office said the governor plans to send a letter to the USDA urging the federal agency not to allow the horse slaughtering operation, and she will seek the support of New Mexico’s delegation in Washington, D.C.

“A horse’s companionship is a way of life for many people across New Mexico. We rely on them for work and bond with them through their loyalty,” Martinez said. “Despite the federal government’s decision to legalize horse slaughter for human consumption, I believe creating a horse slaughter industry in New Mexico is wrong and I am strongly opposed.”

While horse slaughter has not been directly banned in the United States, industrial operations have been effectively blocked since 2006 when Congress chose not to fund the legally required USDA inspections of horses bound for slaughter. However, last year Congress funded the USDA inspections in an agriculture spending bill signed by President Barack Obama.

Powell and King’s criticism was part of a joint statement issued by the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Colorado-based Front Range Equine Rescue and Animal Protection of New Mexico.

The Valley Meat Co., in December and again on March 1, submitted an application for USDA inspection of its 7,290-square-foot plant so that it can begin custom slaughtering and processing of horses.

If he receives USDA approval, De Los Santos said he planned to slaughter 20 to 25 horses per day to start “which is not a whole lot, compared to what’s available.”

De Los Santos said more than 100,000 American horses are shipped out of the country to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada, from which some of the meat is exported to Europe and Asia. “All I’m saying is we can take some of those and slaughter them here,” De Los Santos said.

De Los Santos said the meat from his plant would be exported by an El Paso partner, whom he declined to name, into Mexico. “Everyone who’s ever eaten tacos in Mexico, I guarantee you they’ve eaten horse meat down there,” he said. “It would never be my intention to sell it in the U.S.”

Valley Meat’s application to the USDA was disclosed this week by Front Range Equine Rescue, which obtained USDA documents and email through a federal records request.

Meanwhile, several Roswell area officials, including the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said Friday they are trying to get information about the company’s plans before staking out a position.

“I would not want to venture an opinion until I have some facts upon which to base an opinion,” said Chaves County Commissioner Greg Nibert.

The Humane Society and Front Range have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to declare that meat from former companion, show and work horses to be unfit for humans because of the risk that the meat contains residual toxins administered to the animals during their lifetime. For that reason, the groups have also asked the USDA to ban the slaughter of those horses for human consumption.

De Los Santos said he understands that many Americans oppose the idea of slaughtering horses for consumption, but he said the foreign demand is there, and he is just trying to make a living with a facility now dormant. He said he is not seeking state or local financial help, and all the investment will come from foreign sources.

“Finally, finally today I see an opportunity where I could make a good living, and provide 40 to 50 good jobs, and now I have all the activists, and the governor, coming after me,” De Los Santos said. “I’m going to try to do what I need to make a living, and that’s not against the law.”

— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

Click (HERE) to Visit the Albuquerque Journal and to Comment

30 comments on “Horse Slaughter Request Spurs Outcry

  1. I wonder . . .First, I thought it was illegal to slaughter horses where other animals are slaughtered, so is he no longer slaughtering whatever he was slaughtering and that now makes horses legal. Second, what happened that after 22 years he laid off his last ten employees. Third, how temporary is temporary denial because of cruelty.

    “Rick De Los Santos said he is just trying to . . . . ,” any answer other than to get rich quick by butchering horses is a lie, IMO. Asshat POS.


    • It is illegal…I don’t know that he realizes he’ll either have to build a new facility or stop his other activity in the one currently operating. I doubt he can make a living on 20 to 25 horses a week.


      • sorry that’s 20 to 25 horses a day which equates to about 9000 horses a year. He’ll never make it work.


  2. “It would never be my intention to sell it in the U.S.”
    Nah mister your just happy to cruelly butcher our horses and poison innocent folk around the globe to line your pocket. Typical of so many greed filled folks you don’t want to help solve the over breeding, take a stand against what is both morally & legally wrong. Because It’s being done anyway, so let me jump on board and get my share of the bounty. Excuse me if I have no sympathy or empathy for your woes.


  3. Can’t he find work in a nearby Walmart? Less messy. Curious to know if the 10 he “laid off” were even legal workers.


  4. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of other things he could slaughter without backlash. One can only wonder why he’s essentially had to close down in the first place? If you can’t find a 25 cows, goats, sheep or whatever to kill in a day and you’re a slaughterhouse, what’s the real problem? It doesn’t make much sense to me…


  5. “De Los Santos said the meat from his plant would be exported by an El Paso partner, whom he declined to name, into Mexico. “Everyone who’s ever eaten tacos in Mexico, I guarantee you they’ve eaten horse meat down there,” he said. “It would never be my intention to sell it in the U.S.”
    This statement should be posted on every tourist board on the internet! I know I have already decided not to travel to Mexico again as my personal protest of their treatment of animals, maybe others would as well if they were exposed to this type of thinking!


  6. Other than the journalist, none of the persons interviewed (whether for or against HCHS) discussed the drug issues with regard to US equines in this piece shown here at SFTHH. I find that VERY troubling. The chamber of commerce person is a disgrace….”I don’t know enough”?????? Me thinks he is not telling the truth and trying to stay on the fence not to offend big Ag.

    Wish the journalist would have done a bit more factual research on Mr de Los Santos…..Animals Angels got a rap sheet….with traditional meat sources, no less. Hmmmmm….maybe it’s in the full piece at the journalist’s site. I’ll check.


  7. I went to the Governor’s website …

    Governor, I do not live in your state although I have visited quite often, I don’t know if you’re a Republican or Democrat. Doesn’t matter. I want to thank you for taking a stand against horse slaughterhouses. Not only will your actions make a firm point in New Mexico but in the eyes of all state governors who maybe dealing with this issue very shortly. The Anti-Horse Slaughter legislation is stuck in committee in Washington. A kick in the pants from you might just be the ticket to getting this bill passed. Any further help you might offer would be greatly appreciated. Again, thank you on behalf of millions of Americans (roughly 80%) who oppose this abhorrent business. Steve Stapp


  8. 40 or 50 good jobs? Please define a good job. This ain’t one, dude. It’s the worst of the worst and will attract only desperate people to do it.


  9. I know I’ve become very skeptical of anything the pro slaughter people say, so I find it really difficult to believe that Rick, owner of Valley Meats, told someone from the NM Equine Action Group. He said he would be willing to turn the facility into a non-profit therapy riding place if he could get non-profit status. Why do I have so much trouble believing his heart is in the right place?


  10. I assume the exporter would be one of His other corp. entities..and of course he wouldn’t intend to sell it in the USA..knowing there is no consumer market for drug tainted meat of our campanion, work and sport horses, also can’t help but notice that many of the De Los Santos qouted statements sound as tho they came directly from UH or UE..”He said he is not seeking state or local financial help, and all the investment will come from foreign sources”.go figure. De Los Santos said the meat from his plant would be exported by an El Paso partner, whom he declined to name, into Mexico. “Everyone who’s ever eaten tacos in Mexico, I guarantee you they’ve eaten horse meat down there,” he said. “It would never be my intention to sell it in the U.S.”


    • When I went to Mexico (multiple times), I never ate anything except seafood and meat at a fiesta with friends and family sponsored and bottled water or beer. I was taught a long time ago, don’t eat off the carts or dive cafes. And I can tell the difference between pork, poultry, beef, lamb and “exotics”.

      Mr DeLosSantos is living in LAH-LAH land.

      I figured his connection was/is Chavez and the slimy Belgian.


  11. The reason the plant is close appears above. He was closed down because they inhumanely slaughtered cattle. So now we are expected to beleive this guy. Like all pro-slaughter they lie and he has been caught in several in just the few statements he made. He should not be given the inspection rights EVER!


    • Lynette, then that answers my original question, thnx. I didn’t realize cruelty would close down an operation when usually all cruelty seems to garner is a quick slap on the wrist and/or a look in the other direction.


    • Dear Lynette, No American Horse should ever to taken across any Border for any reason , nor should any American Horse ever be Slaughtered , much less be eaten, To me I will never understand why that any animal abuser should ever be granted permission to continue to abuse animals,people who do things like this have no conscience , once they abuse an animal they are desencatized …….Every Serial Killer has animal abuse in his backround …Dosnt that tell anyone in athority where this is all leading !!!!


  12. Just what Nationality are those jobs going to go to? I’m asking if there going to bother checking to make sure those are creditable AMERICAN jobs.

    If he’s gonna export the meat to Mexico–let him open a plant in Mexico. AMERICANS DON’T KILL EAT THEIR FRIENDS!

    And seriously we need a real conversation about toxic pet treats sent to us from foriegn countries. We scream, we rant and rave. We threaten boycott. We are no better than those countries when WE KNOWINGLY send poisoned toxic meat overseas.

    You may not see illness for a day, a year or even ten years. But there is a reason Bute was banned for human consumption. And worming medications? Those boxes clearly state that it’s not intended for food source animals.

    The FDA made those regulations. Not me or any other advocate (or activist). It’s not “the radical animal activist” that made those laws. The FDA–your government made those laws TO PROTECT HUMAN LIFE.

    It is simply not accurate to say we’re butting into your privately owned animals. What you do–be it racing or rodeo is your business. I am ABSOLUTELY against horse tripping. I’ve seen horses from those awful places.

    We don’t raise horses in this country for slaughter. It’s that simple.

    Perhaps what we need is some kind of government fund–for every horse you breed you in 25 dollars and each owner thereafter puts in 10 dollars a year. Those funds can then be pulled from proper sources for end of life needs–be it cremation or whatever. But those sources have to show proper creditionals to be allowed to withdraw funds.

    Tis Santos guy needs to go back to school and learn a trade where he can provide for himself and/or family. Horse slaughter is not the way to go.


  13. Bi-partisan opposition (a Republican governor and two high-ranking Democrats): I love it.

    Same old song and dance on the slaughter front and no new steps. Among the top reasons anti-horse slaughter supporters frequently cite is the fact that there is still no clean, quick or humane way to kill a horse intended for food. And while I’m SURE this fella DeLosSantos has vast experience in cattle killing – like a lot of crossover ‘processors’ who’d like to include horse killing on their resumes – that fact hasn’t changed AT ALL.

    Maybe those 20-25 he intends to kill are the experimental ones.

    And, where’s the beef? If this person’s biz has failed, it can’t possibly be for a lack of cattle for slaughter. Even in a crap economy, cattle slaughter continues, unabated, for both domestic and foreign use. It would be interesting to discover the actual ‘why’ his plant is now dormant as it almost literally takes an act of Congress to shut a business down for ‘violations’, even repeatedly (see Kaufman, TX).

    But it sure is gratifying to see both – the two-party system agreeing on something for a change and the Governor, standing up for her state and her beliefs.


  14. De Los Santos aka, He Lost Sanity, is such a jerk…what happened to the “private” butchering of privately owned horses by “appointment”?

    Of course he wants to slaughter 25 to 30 a day. Are there that many private owners who are just dying to have their unfortunate horses slaughtered?

    How is he planning to slaughter horses humanely when he cannot slaughter cattle humanely?

    And, as pointed out by others here, if he can’t find cattle,goats,pigs and exotics to slaughter, why does he think horses will save his business? What an idiot!

    Shut the damn place down and go find a real job that doesn’t entail killing. Are you equipped to do anything else or have you been sitting on your ass running slaughter for so long that you can’t do anything but that?

    If you laid off your last 10 workers already, then there is no reason to continue….Walmart,Target, many gasoline stations and restaurants are calling your name Mr. De Los Santos.

    OR, better yet, you could ramble on down to good old Mexico where you can slaughter horses all day long and eat tacos all night. I’m sure someone with your credentials will fit in perfectly there.


  15. Those in the meat producing and slaughtering of cattle can only thank the numerous recalls of beef and other meat products for the decline in consumption of beef, pork and other meats. This should be a clue to the fellow that Americans are finding other sources of protein. Let the employees seek retraining at their local community college if he must lay them off. God knows there are countless others who are out of work. Again, if this state opened such a facility it would be one state in the country that would be off limits for my family vacation. New Mexico is a beautiful state don’t let it be tarnished with this type of business..Once in your state, you will truly be sorry!


  16. Why is his facility dormant? Have people stopped eating beef? Have beef suppliers stopped using Valley Meats because they were already cited for “inhumane treatment” and temporarily suspended. Why should American tax dollars fund USDA inspection of a meat we don’t eat? USDA can’t even protect American consumers.


    • Could someone please tell me what kind of inhumane treatment were they cited for?

      I keep reading the term but have never been able to find out what they did…of course in my opinion, all slaughter is inhumane but they must have done something over and above to get cited,

      I thought the USDA was asleep at the wheel most of the time.


  17. I’m so tired of hearing De Los Santos saying he will continue to fight to get his plant open because the facility is just sitting there not being used, and that slaughtering horses would create more jobs and he needs to make a living. Get another job and make a living doing something decent and respectable instead of inhumanely destroying these innocent creatures who are such an important and iconic park of our history and culture. What a disgusting operation to strip these magnificent animal’s of their dignity in such a brutal way. How dare this man try to justify such horror to these poor souls! Oh…! And he would only sell the meat to China, not here in the U.S. And that makes it OK! It’s not OK anytime or anyplace.


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