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NM State Officials, Humane Groups Oppose Horse Slaughter Plant

April 23, 2012

ROSWELL, N.M. - A New Mexico slaughterhouse that has been cited in the past for inhumane handling of cattle is now seeking certification to slaughter horses, as well - and Valley Meat Company's proposal would make it the first location in the U.S. to do so. The plan for a horse slaughter plant in Roswell has been condemned by the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Front Range Equine Rescue in Colorado and Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM).

Elisabeth Jennings, who heads APNM, says her group is going to take action.

"The decision rests with the United States Department of Agriculture. Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of Agriculture. We're asking people to contact his office and voice their opposition to this."

Gov. Susana Martinez also opposes the plan.

Horse slaughter has been blocked since 2006, when Congress withheld funds for USDA inspections of horse meat plants. But Congress has renewed inspection funding, and several plants are now under consideration, including one in Missouri.

The answer is not to ship American horses to Canada or Mexico, Jennings adds. She says it's a false choice to suggest that slaughter be done in the U.S. instead of other countries. Her point is that there are humane alternatives to killing unwanted horses.

"We want to see a comprehensive, compassionate safety net for horses put in place in America, just like we have for unwanted dogs and cats."

A 2012 national poll by Lake Research Partners has found 80 percent of Americans favor banning horse slaughter for human consumption. Opposition to slaughtering horses crosses all partisan, regional and gender lines.

Beth Blakeman, Public News Service - NM