Judge Rules against N.M. Horse Processing Plant

A New Mexico judge has granted a preliminary injunction preventing Valley Meat Co. LLC from opening its long-sought horse processing plant in Roswell. The ruling came on the same day President Barack Obama signed into law a bipartisan funding bill depriving the USDA of funds for horsemeat inspections in the United States

Valley Meats applied for and received a USDA permit to begin processing horses after Congress reinstated funding for horsemeat inspections at U.S. processing plants in 2011, but was faced with a series of lawsuits aimed at preventing the plant from operating.

The, last month, New Mexico's Attorney General Gary King filed a lawsuit against the company in District Court in Santa Fe County. The suit sought an injunction against Valley Meats to prevent the firm from launching its horse processing operations on grounds that the firm allegedly had a poor record of complying with state environmental rules.

On Jan. 3, State District Judge Matthew Wilson extended hearing on the case in order to hear arguments on both sides.

Finally, on Jan. 17, Wilson granted King's motion for a preliminary injunction preventing Valley Meats from opening its horse processing plant until the attorney general's lawsuit is resolved, said Phil Sisneros, director of communications for King's office.

Atty. Blair Dunn, who represents Valley Meats, was unavailable for comment on Wilson's decision.

In a written statement, King said he continues to oppose the Valley Meats plant on environmental grounds.

“I still strongly believe that Valley Meat's proposal for commercial horse slaughter posed a serious danger to consumers and to our environment,” King's statement said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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