Horse News

Butchering Family Gives Up on Horse-Slaughter Plant in New Mexico

By Milan Simonich / Texas-New Mexico Newspapers

“It doesn’t look like anybody is going to get a grant of inspection for horse slaughter.”

Rick de los Santos speaks to CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker about killing and eating horses (CBS)

SANTA FE – A family business in the Roswell area has suspended its plan to slaughter horses for human consumption in foreign markets, its attorney said today.

Valley Meat Co. has received no response from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on its application to slaughter horses and process the meat, said A. Blair Dunn, the attorney who represents the business. It had been pursuing federal approval since April.

Blair said the De Los Santos family, owner of Valley Meat Co., has no choice but to restart its cattle-slaughter business.

That business was in abeyance while the family sought federal approval for its equine slaughter and processing operation.

“They’re suspending any plans for the horse-slaughter plant,” Dunn said in an interview. “It doesn’t look like anybody is going to get a grant of inspection for horse slaughter.”

A meat-processing plant cannot slaughter both cattle and horses simultaneously, Dunn said. Given what he called inaction by the federal government, the family has no choice but to resume its cattle-processing business to make a living, he said.

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, was among the officeholders who opposed the horse-slaughter plant. State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, a Democrat and a veterinarian, also was against horse slaughter in New Mexico.

But people in the horse industry disagreed with opponents of the plant, saying there was no logical reason to fight the De Los Santos family’s business venture. “Horses deserve better than to be abandoned, starved or transported long distances in crowded trucks to slaughter in foreign countries,” the New Mexico Horse Council’s president, Rusty Cook, said in a letter to the governor.

His organization represents about 30 horse clubs.

The De Los Santos family had to retrofit its 7,000-square-foot plant to prepare for the slaughter and processing of horses. Dunn said the family saw Europe as its primary market for horse meat.

Horse slaughter has been a dormant industry in the United States. That was because Congress in 2006 did not fund the required USDA inspections of horses that would be killed for human consumption.

The federal policy changed last year. Congress funded the inspections in an agriculture bill that President Obama signed.

Still, in a practical sense, nothing was different for the De Los Santos family, which could not obtain its grant of inspection, despite a persistent effort, Dunn said.

Milan Simonich, Santa Fe Bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at or 505-820-6898. His blog is at

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11 replies »

  1. GOOD, they ought to be glad because it would have never happened anyway, not with all the folks against such a barbaric act


  2. If the slaughterhouse had been able to open, the horses wouldn’t be abandoned in Presidio. Instead they would be abandoned outside the NM plant. Big difference, They could starve in NM instead of Texas. I’m not sure what “people in the horse industry” the reporter talked with, since 80% of us are opposed to horse slaughter.


  3. and another story to go comment on… Although this is good news, we still need to keep on congress to prevent our own states from becoming potential home to a horse slaughter plant. Tell Congress why horse slaughter does not belong in our nation… Join the letter campaign , call your congresspeople- and while youre at it, join the post card possee. Do one, Do all three. Do something- its time for the true horse industry and the 80% who are opposed to horse slaughter to be heard over the horse meat industry.


  4. I’m going over to the full article, but once again we have a journalist writing about something that he/she knows nothing about and didn’t bother to do their homework.

    Santos was shut down by USDA for abuses against the animals he was, repeat WAS slaughtering (cattle, etc). And the journalist didn’t ask how much was invested in the retrofit and what the retrofits were.

    Last photo I saw, tumble weeds were growing on the grounds. Did Simonich visit the “plant”? The CBS reporter also did a poor job of reporting.

    USDA Gaffney is a gem! What a line of manure about preparing for testing, etc for equine slaughter in the US.

    And I’m sick and tired of the press and “experts” saying that there is no slaughter of equines in the US. Geesh….4/5ths of the process is alive and well in the US from collection, transport, holding, forging paperwork….they just don’t bolt and butcher them here. And equines are slaughtered here in the US; you can’t sell it to humans for consumption.

    The full article also states that he got fined again, by EPA (state, Fed?)? He had an illegal pit for tankage/waste. Gee! What a surprise….


  5. Me? I’m just happy as hades that he’s not going to get his plant. Think SS was for this so that’s not her nail in her coffin on the horse slaughter issue.


  6. Why do these people keep saying the `horse industry’ wants this? No, the industry as a whole does not want this. A few bottom feeder failures want slaughter back certainly not the majority of the horse industry. I guess with Missouri dead in the water, New Mexico a no go, that means Ole Suey will be targetting Washington state next. I can’t wait to her and D-bag Duquette spin this one!


  7. Glad to hear they won’t be slaughtering horses there. I agree that there are two different “industries” out there, the REAL horse industry, &, the horse slaughter industry! Anyone who cares about, or loves horses, the 80% of us, is the REAL horse industry. Anyone wanting votes this year needs to abolish this “ok to fund horse slaughter facilities” idea, this is a MAJOR waste of money, taxpayer or government! This will not solve or help our economy, actually would make it worse! Talk about wasteful government spending! At this point in time, I can not vote for ether idiot. Not until it’s public knowledge that they will not ok horse slaughter, EVER!


  8. I am appalled that the NM Horse Council is in support of horse slaughter instead of selective breeding and sterilization and Jeff Bingaman for working with these people to bring this horrific type of business to NM! Shame on them! Bingaman, I am a registered voter in NM, with a family of voters! Horse slaughter facilities would only increase the number of horses since Europe doesn’t allow meat from US because we love our horses and don’t want them to feel bad (bute). I read an article that some failed cattle ranchers were waiting for the slaughter plants to open so they could change and raise horses like they did cattle. This would actually increase the number of horses bred for slaughter. It’s all about the money, nothing to do with the welfare or well being of the horses! I still don’t see the De Los Sanchos cruelty to animals suspension FEBRUARY 2012 mentioned in this article Roswell has UFO’s they don’t need this atrocious plant.


  9. His cattle slaughter plant was shut down for violations numerous times. It was a hellhole for cattle then and will be again. Isn’t there a burger joint that needs a janitor in his area? Oh wait….he probably wouldn’t clean that up either!


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