Horse Slaughter House To Open Soon In New Mexico - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Horse Slaughter House To Open Soon In New Mexico

Posted: Updated:
Jeri Clausing / Associated Press Jeri Clausing / Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the southern New Mexico plant that has been fighting for more than a year for permission to slaughter horses will open soon, unless Congress reinstates a ban on the practice.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Vilsack said the department is working to make sure the process is handled properly for the opening of what would be the first domestic horse slaughter house in six years.

"We are going to do this, and I would imagine that it would be done relatively soon," Vilsack said.

Valley Meat Co. sued the Department of Agriculture last year, claiming that inaction on its application was driven by emotional political debates and that the delays had cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The USDA re-inspected the plant last week.

"It will open unless Congress restores the ban on horse slaughter that they had in place," said Vilsack. "If that doesn't happen, then we are duty-bound to do what needs to be done to allow that plant to begin processing."

The Obama Administration opposes horse slaughter. Its recent budget proposal eliminates funding for inspections of horse slaughter houses, which would effectively reinstate a ban on the practice. Congress eliminated that funding in 2006, which forced a shutdown of domestic slaughter facilities. But Congress reinstated the funding in 2011, prompting Valley Meat Co. and a handful of other businesses around the country to seek permission to open plants.

The debate over whether to return to domestic horse slaughter has divided horse rescue and animal humane groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes.

At issue is whether horses are livestock or pets, and how best to control the nation's exploding equine population. Supporters of horse slaughter point to a 2011 report from the federal Government Accountability Office that shows horse abuse and abandonment have been increasing since 2006. They say it is better to slaughter the animals in humane, federally regulated facilities than have them abandoned to starve across the drought-stricken West or shipped to inhumane facilities south of the border.

The number of U.S. horses sent to other countries for slaughter has nearly tripled since 2006. And many humane groups agree that some of the worst abuse occurs in the slaughter pipeline. Many are pushing for a both a ban on domestic slaughter as well as a ban on shipping horses to Mexico and Canada.

Vilsack says the administration understands the concerns and "needs to be more creative" in finding alternative solutions to horse overpopulation.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Family's Car Catches Fire Inside Lion Enclosure

    Family's Car Catches Fire Inside Lion Enclosure

    Sunday, April 20 2014 2:57 PM EDT2014-04-20 18:57:30 GMT
    (NBC)- A British family was forced to flee their car inside a lion enclosure, after the vehicle caught fire. Other visitors shot amateur footage of the car on fire. Helen Clements, who was in the car with her two children, said they were caught between wanting to escape the burning car while evading the lions.>>
    (NBC)- A British family was forced to flee their car inside a lion enclosure, after the vehicle caught fire. Other visitors shot amateur footage of the car on fire. Helen Clements, who was in the car with her two children, said they were caught between wanting to escape the burning car while evading the lions.
    >>
  • BEAUTIFUL HOMES: Top 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale In CDA

    BEAUTIFUL HOMES: Top 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale In CDA

    Tuesday, March 25 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-03-25 13:20:34 GMT
    KHQ.COM - When it comes to shopping around for a house, it's always fun to dream. We did a search for some of the most expensive homes for sale right now in the Coeur d' Alene area.>>
    KHQ.COM - When it comes to shopping around for a house, it's always fun to dream. We did a search for some of the most expensive homes for sale right now in the Coeur d' Alene area.>>
  • Organizers With The Seafair Torchlight Parade Issue An Apology

    Organizers With The Seafair Torchlight Parade Issue An Apology

    Sunday, April 20 2014 10:47 PM EDT2014-04-21 02:47:17 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - This year the Fallen Hero Banner project, which honors men and women from Washington who have died serving our country, applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade in Seattle. However, the organization was denied by the parade selection committee via email saying, "the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade.">>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - This year the Fallen Hero Banner project, which honors men and women from Washington who have died serving our country, applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade in Seattle. However, the organization was denied by the parade selection committee via email saying, "the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade.">>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • Several Hospitalized After Easter Night Crash

    Several Hospitalized After Easter Night Crash

    Monday, April 21 2014 1:45 AM EDT2014-04-21 05:45:17 GMT
    Several People are recovering after a two vehicle crash north of Spokane near Elk at the intersection of Madison and Frideger. The Spokane County Sheriff's Department tell us the drivers of both cars may have been impaired. It happened around 7 p.m. Sunday night. There were several people injured in those vehicles, but its not clear how serious those injuries are. Stay with KHQ.com for more on this developing story.>>
    Several People are recovering after a two vehicle crash north of Spokane near Elk at the intersection of Madison and Frideger. The Spokane County Sheriff's Department tell us the drivers of both cars may have been impaired. It happened around 7 p.m. Sunday night. There were several people injured in those vehicles, but its not clear how serious those injuries are. Stay with KHQ.com for more on this developing story.>>
  • Organizers With The Seafair Torchlight Parade Issue An Apology

    Organizers With The Seafair Torchlight Parade Issue An Apology

    Sunday, April 20 2014 10:47 PM EDT2014-04-21 02:47:17 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - This year the Fallen Hero Banner project, which honors men and women from Washington who have died serving our country, applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade in Seattle. However, the organization was denied by the parade selection committee via email saying, "the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade.">>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - This year the Fallen Hero Banner project, which honors men and women from Washington who have died serving our country, applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade in Seattle. However, the organization was denied by the parade selection committee via email saying, "the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade.">>
  • Kraft Recalls 96,000 Pounds Of Oscar Mayer Wieners

    Kraft Recalls 96,000 Pounds Of Oscar Mayer Wieners

    Sunday, April 20 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-04-21 02:46:36 GMT
    NEW YORK (AP) - Kraft Foods is recalling 96,000 pounds of its Oscar Mayer wieners because they may mistakenly contain cheese.The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Sunday that packages of Kraft's "Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners" may instead contain the company's "Classic Cheese Dogs.>>
    NEW YORK (AP) - Kraft Foods is recalling 96,000 pounds of its Oscar Mayer wieners because they may mistakenly contain cheese.The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Sunday that packages of Kraft's "Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners" may instead contain the company's "Classic Cheese Dogs.>>