The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months, which would allow equine meat suitable for human consumption to be produced in the United States for the first time since 2007.
The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the USDA and its Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by USDA, so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
USDA cites that several companies have asked the agency to re-establish inspection of horses for slaughter but still needed to complete necessary technical requirements. The FSIS also must complete its inspector training.
Congress, in 2011, opened the door to the resumption of horse slaughtering in the United States when it let lapse a rider to an appropriations bill that had prevented USDA from financing inspection of horse meat. However, USDA never restarted inspections.
The multi-species facility already has commitments for more than 300,000 head of livestock, and plans are progressing at a steady pace. The plant could produce 1,500 tons in an eight-hour shift at maximum production, but that is not anticipated during the first couple of years.