U.S. appeals court halts horse-slaughter inspections

Mon Nov 4, 2013 9:06pm EST

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(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Monday granted an emergency request by animal protection groups to temporarily block the U.S. government from conducting inspections of horses destined for slaughter.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary injunction barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from providing horse meat inspection services to Roswell, New Mexico-based Valley Meat Co, Responsible Transportation, in Iowa, and Rains Natural Meats, in Missouri.

The order comes after a U.S. District Judge in New Mexico on Friday threw out a lawsuit, which the Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups had filed in July, that sought to permanently halt the slaughter of horses.

The suit alleged that the Department of Agriculture failed to carry out environmental reviews before it gave approval to the three companies to slaughter horses for human consumption.

The district judge had found that the grants of inspection were properly issued and dismissed the lawsuit, clearing the way for the equine killing to resume.

However, in an emergency request to the 10th Circuit on Monday, the animal protection groups argued that an emergency injunction was necessary to prevent environmental harm and the violation of federal environmental laws while their appeal is pending. A two-judge panel of the 10th Circuit granted that request.

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.

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.

Groups have argued for years about 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.

The case is Front Range Equine Rescue et al v. Vilsack et al, 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-2187.

(Reporting by Terry Baynes in New York; Editing by Ken Wills)

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Comments (3)
WhyMeLord wrote:
Keep the horses and sell the meatpackers to whoever has pocket change.
If nobody will buy them, they could be tarred and feathered as dolls.

Nov 05, 2013 12:13am EST  --  Report as abuse
elizabethdana wrote:
In light of the fact that horsemeat is contaminated with drugs and that our own USA Food Supply can not be safely protected even with USDA Inspectors that we have, why would the taxpayers want to FUND a private special interest group to sell this as beef to the poor? Killing and slaughtering horses is Not a part of our USA culture and just because China thinks cats and dogs should be eaten does not make it right or so! Our own American children need lunches that are nuitritional and safe to eat! American – take care of Our Own and Start with Our American Horses – Remember War Horse? That was a true story!

Nov 05, 2013 7:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
morgansinkc wrote:
We do not want the proposed horse slaughter plant, Rains Natural Meats, to open in Gallatin, Mo. Horses being shipped for slaughter are not required to have health certificates. This means all types of diseases from out of state horses could enter Missouri.
Furthermore, there are over 100 equine drugs that we (the collective horse owners) give our horses that make them unfit for human consumption. The USDA has no business getting mixed up in this.
Additionally, this plant would cost U.S. taxpayers $400,000.00 per year for the USDA inspections, and the meat would be shipped overseas.
Also, we would be worried about horse thieves stealing horses in the surrounding area for slaughter, especially in this economy.
What’s more, toxic waste from the plant could contaminate the entire area from a lagoon that has been dug in the clay at Rains Natural Meats, and the Grand River is nearby and is downhill from there. The area is also porous with limestone, and clay cracks.
Finally, slaughter plants want the healthy horses and never the old or sick horses. These are horses that could benefit the community as therapy horses for children and veterans, or as police mounts.

Nov 09, 2013 2:39am EST  --  Report as abuse
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