Potential Oregon Horse Processing Plant Opposed

Civic leaders in Hermiston, Ore., have instructed the city's manager to hire an attorney to challenge the location of a horse processing plant proposed for development there.

Horse processing has not taken place in the U.S. since 2007 when a combination of legislation and court decisions shuttered remaining plants in Illinois and Texas. However horse processing in the United States became possible again last year when Congress reinstated funding for USDA inspections at horse processing plant facilities. No horse slaughter facilities are currently operating in the United States.

Earlier this year, Quarter Horse trainer David Duquette proposed the development of a horse processing plant on a 250-acre parcel in Hermiston, Ore. The development would also include an algae farm to treat plant-generated waste and an onsite "rescue and rejuvenation program" to identify horses seized by law enforcement authorities in animal cruelty cases that are suitable for retraining and rehoming. Duquette estimated that the proposed pant and complex would employ between 50 and 100 workers.

However, Mark Morgan, Hermiston's assistant city manager, said that earlier this month Mayor Robert E. Severson and the members of the City Council unanimously instructed the City Manager Ed Brookshier to hire an attorney to battle the plant development should the Umatilla County Department of Land Use Planning approve a development request from Duquette.

Moran said that council members' reasons for opposing the processing plant project varied, but that the most council members opposed the plant on economic development grounds.

"They believe the plant would discourage other companies from locating in the city," Morgan said. "Plant might create 'x' number of jobs, but how many jobs would it cost?"

Umatilla County planning director Tamara J. Mabbott said that Duquette has not yet applied for a permit for the Hermiston project.

"I've met with him (Duquette) a couple of times, but he's not ready to apply for a permit," Mabott said.

Duquette said that he intends to go forward with the project despite opposition from civil leaders in Hermiston.

"We are aware of the issues and we are proceeding forward with the whole project which involves the rehabilitation, training and educational center, and the plant," Duquette said.

Duquette said that the rehabilitation center will open in first quarter of 2013, and the plant will open thereafter.

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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