Horse News

USDA Approves Second Horse Slaughterhouse, But Renews Bid for Ban

Source: Multiple

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,”

photo courtesy of Animal Law

The U.S. government approved a horse slaughter plant in Iowa on Tuesday, its second such move in four days, but it also renewed its appeal to Congress to ban the business and was hit by a lawsuit from animal welfare groups.

In a statement, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it was required by law to issue a “grant of inspection” to Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, because it met all federal requirements. USDA will also be obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant.

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” the USDA said in a statement. “Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law.”

An application from a Missouri company was also expected to win approval this week.

Valley Meats in Roswell, New Mexico, on Friday became the first horse plant to clear the USDA review process since a ban on horse slaughter ended in 2011.

Five animal welfare groups filed suit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to overturn the approvals, saying the Agriculture Department did not conduct environmental reviews before acting. The groups say horses are given medications not approved for livestock so the waste products of slaughter plants may include pollutants.

“America is the original home of the horse and has never been a horse-eating culture,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom, one of the litigants. “Horses have been our companions, fought battles with us, worked sun-up to sundown by our sides … we will not abandon them now.”

Horse meat cannot be sold as food in the United States, but it can be exported. The meat is sold for human consumption in China, Russia, Mexico and other countries and is sometimes used as feed for zoo animals.

Nearly 159,000 horses were exported from the United States to Canada and Mexico during 2012, most likely for slaughter, officials said.

Congress effectively banned horse slaughter in 2006 by saying the USDA could not spend any money to inspect the plants. Without USDA inspectors, slaughterhouses cannot operate.

The ban had been extended a year at a time as part of USDA funding bills, but the language was omitted in 2011.

Lawmakers may vote in coming weeks on horse slaughter as part of its work on Agriculture Department funding. In addition, two freestanding bills would ban horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter.

Groups have argued for years whether a ban on slaughter would save horses from an inhumane death or cause owners to abandon animals they no longer want or cannot afford to feed and treat for illness.

It was not known how soon Valley Meats or Responsible Transportation would begin operation. A spokesman for Responsible Transportation was not immediately available for comment.

Responsible Transportation said on its website that there are 90,000 to 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States annually.

“We believe it is our responsibility to restore the value of the horse industry,” it said.

23 replies »

  1. (Striking and beautiful new format.) Where, oh where is Sierra Club when ya need’em? They are awfully good at getting injunctions. I’d sure like to see them harassing someone that needs to be harassed!


    • From what I have read (though this is slightly off-topic) the Sierra Club views wild horses as feral and supports their removal from the wild. The Sierra Club is apparently no friend to horses.


      • Right. No friend to horses. Only to hunters.

        Thus, if buying permits to hunt wild horses and burros were legal, would there be Sierra Club members out on the range shooting away?

        As I write this, I’m remembering the Texas wildlife officials who gun down gentle burros with impunity.


      • (Also OT .. maybe relevant).. not meaning to lump a group together .. We used to pack out garbage left behind by Sierra Club groups in our wilderness areas. They would tuck it under lean-tos … waiting for room service? lol

        (Awhile ago, hopefully things are different now..


      • I was unaware of SC’s stance on horses. I only know that they sure do manage to get injunctions! and they have successfully stopped lumbering, farming, public playgrounds, etc. Just anything they set their minds to.


  2. responsible transportation feels responisable for the horse insustry? i would have to say they feel a need to exploit it for monetary reasons.


  3. So Ingrid Newkirk is getting her wish. This is just beyond shocking, appalling and fire Vilsack. None of them can be trusted again.


  4. If the people of Roswell NM and Iowa as well as MO began a harsh opposition to the opening of the plants couldnt they buy some time for the horses at a local level until the federal ban kicks in?


  5. Keep routing folks to petition. Under animals petition to overturn the legalization, of the slaughter of horses for human consumption. We jumped a thousand signatures in a day! I keep watching it grow we neex more, i post it with all my online names, facebook, elsewhere. Please every name just shows ths strong numbers of people who individually oppose this. Secondly keep posting comments to remind everyone, we the people have voices and i got into a nasty dialogue about its meat and personal decisions. I opted that they go to usda site, videos of brutal slaughter, and cdc horse documented illness


    • Right On Cynthia!!! They can also go to: to learn about the two pending Senate/House Bills, HR1094 & S541, To Stop Horse Slaughter in the US & Export of Horses for Slaughter to other Countries. At this site You can Vote in a poll & send a message to Your Representatives about the 2 Bills! Congress will see this information!! Congress is stalling on the 2 bills because of very powerful people with A LOT of clout in Congress, Cattlemen!, that have one of the most powerful Lobbyist Money can buy on their side!! Cattlemen who have been known to run Wild horses into box canyons and then Shoot them in the heads! I read on a comment by a lady who had lived in a state that had horse slaughter plants that people’s Pet & Show horses would go missing and Before they could find out what happened to their Pets & show Horses they were SLAUGHTERED!! ‘JUST THE FACTS , MAM!!!!’


      • Yes! By all means go to POPVOX and voice your opinion. Not only will it go to your legislators, the votes are tallied and the percentages of yes to no publicly displayed. Every NO vote counts!


  6. Who are the other non-profit groups filing suit? Beside “Return to Freedom” I am pretty sure FrontRangeEquineRescue and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are filing. Is the ASPCA also one of them? I’d like to know where to direct specific donations to help with legal fees. The more groups that join that suit, or file their own, the better.

    Thank you, Annie Mond, BlessUsAll, and NY horseman for the info about the Sierra Club. That is one organization to cross off the list!


  7. I got a posting from Animal Angels that said something about the EU didn’t even know we were bringing back brought slaughter. There is an issue about permits not being applied for. The post said that it would take 60-90 days to get approval and that’s if everything went straight through.

    I’m not sure where Valley Meats thinks they’re going to sale the meat to. Mexico might buy it. But they slaughter their own. Not sure they need ours. Russia is busy boycotting beef from us. So I’d be fairly certain that we’d be off their radar. China might. Not sure if they follow EU guidelines or not.

    The USDA has totally screwed the American public with this travesty. If dishonoring the horses weren’t enough this poorly thought out approved application puts all of us in danger. USDA could’ve turned this into an ugly mess citing that the drug residues make horses unfit for human consumption and that we (America)shouldn’t be exporting tainted meat. Sure it would gotten messy. It is now.

    This whole thing is so easy. Livestock can not be drugged. It makes them unfit for human consumption. Antibiotics, Bute etc. and who knows what Frog Juice does to humans??? I know its suppose to be 40X times as powerful as morphine. But does it withdraw? Does it leave a bitter aftertaste??? Horses are routinely given drugs that make them unfit for human consumption. It isn’t that difficult a concept. Even I understand it and yes, I did finish two years of college.

    The pollution left behind, the towns that are ruined, the list goes on. Perhaps that has nothing to do with the USDA but the drug stuff does.

    I feel very betrayed by my government. I pay hefty taxes to be protected and now I feel left out. This isn’t how I envisioned my adult years, worrying about whether I was going to be poisoned because people chose to look the other way. What happened to protecting the food chain?

    Consumer confidence for me has hit an all time low. I sure hope Obama hears what USDA did and how they passed the buck. How they sold all of us up a creek without a paddle. I hope they all get fired as a result.


    • The USDA is required to follow the law. Until we can get the budget passed that defunds money for horse slaughter inspections – again, they must comply.

      Passing the SAFE ACT will be a permanent fix. We need to all go to Washington, D.C. with many, many others and demonstrate to insist that our legislators get the job done. We are the majority. We are their employers.


      • The USDA had a number of perfectly legal and satisfactory reasons to deny Valley Meats a permit to slaughter anything. De Los Santos is a convicted felon and lied about it on his first two permit requests; Valley Meats has been shut down twice – once for cruelty to cattle and another time for environmental violations including a 15 foot high mound of rotting meat, bones and other “stuff” and ignored warning after warning from NM officials to clean it up. The USDA has pictures. Not only that, the NM Attorney General has declared horse meat unfit for human consumption under NM law.

        Now, tell me the USDA HAD to issue this place a permit, lawsuit or no lawsuit.


      • Well let’s hope the lawsuit filed jointly by the HSUS and equine rescues for animal abuse provides the injunction needed to keep these horse holocausts from opening, Suzanne. It could tie these “facilities” up for awhile. Long enough to get the SAFE Act passed? Maybe not, but hopefully long enough for the current federal budget to pass – with the defunding language in place. We will be watching for any closed door, eleventh hour shenanigans, so unscrupulous legislators need to behave themselves this time.


    • I don’t think that’s right. We didn’t send the EU a description of a new traceability system we have to have implemented by the end of this month. The USDA didn’t send an example and the EU removed the US from the countries approved to export horse meat to the EU in 2011! We would have to submit a detailed traceability plan comparable to the EU’s passport system, they would have to approve and then audit. We are not going to employ such a system, but even if we were, the EWA was told it would take about two years to get full approval AFTER the plan was submitted – which it hasn’t been and will never be.

      I doubt if the EU is loosening the rules for us, because they know full well that we have no traceability system, and they have found contamination of our horse meat and forged documentation for years in their inspections of their plants in Mexico and Canada. Here are the regulations which go into effect on the 31st of this month.
      EU regs 2013:


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