A Roswell, N.M., meat company has filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) over a lack of action on a request for inspections that would clear the way for the company to resume domestic horse slaughterhouse operations in an effort to revitalize horse meat food services to foreign buyers.
Company owner Rick del los Santos says the company is still waiting for federal action though the lawsuit was filed last October. Federal court officials say USDA has until January to respond to the request but confirm they will continue to process the lawsuit in the interim.
Valley Meat Company is suing the federal government, alleging USDA inaction on its application has cost the company "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in recent months. The company has also filed suit against advocates for the humane treatment of animals, who Santos claims defamed his business during what he termed "an expensive, yearlong fight" over his proposal. That suit names the Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue and Animal Protection of New Mexico as plaintiffs.
If USDA approves the request, or if the court forces the fed agency to take action, it could result in clearing the way for the nation's first new horse slaughterhouse operation in more than five years.
Reprinted in part from Western Farm Press