Judge Dismisses Slaughter Suit

On March 14, a federal judge ruled in favor of the USDA to allow fee-for-service inspections at horsemeat processing plants despite efforts of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights groups to prevent the inspections and close the plants.

The USDA implemented the fee-for-service inspections on March 10 after the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations bill eliminated funding for the inspections through October 2006. (For more information see www.TheHorse.com/emag.aspx?ID=6687.) The HSUS filed suit against the USDA in February claiming the inspections were in violation of the congressional intent of the agricultural spending bill.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed most of the suit with the exception of allegations from neighboring residents of the three plants suffer negative environmental consequences from the plants' operation. Any action resulting from these allegations will be decided at a later date. Kollar-Kotelly also rejected HSUS' request for a temporary injunction to halt slaughter until a decision was made on the pending suit.

A joint statement from groups involved in the suit said, "We will continue our efforts to enforce the clear legislative mandate to stop horse slaughter for the 2006 fiscal year, either by proceeding on the merits of the case or by seeking an appeal."

Charles Stenholm, a former Texas representative now representing the plants, said, "Halting operations at the U.S. processing plants takes away U.S. jobs, reduces U.S. exports, and most importantly eliminates a valuable end-of-life option for owners. We know that few people like to think of animal processing plants, but it's an option that needs to exist for owners whose horses have outlived their utility."

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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