Initial Missouri Horse Processing Plant Site Nixed

Horse processing plant developers have abandoned plans to locate a plant at a Missouri industrial park because site preparation costs would be too high.

In February the Wyoming-based Unified Equine LLC announced it was conducting a study to determine the feasibility of locating a horse processing plant in the Twin Cities Industrial Park near Mountain Grove. On March 6 Mountain Grove residents packed a city council meeting to learn more about the plant project, and some in attendance expressed opposition to the project on equine welfare, environmental, and other grounds. On March 12 the prospective developers met with local residents to discuss the proposed plant; however, during that meeting Unified Equine Chief Executive Officer and Wyoming State Rep. Sue Wallis announced that the company had decided not to locate the plant at the Twin Cities site.

"That particular building has been ruled out primarily because of the cost of retrofitting it to be a meat processing facility," Wallis said. "Also, the location is not ideal for a number of reasons."

Wallis said the decision regarding the Twin Cities site was made in advance of the March 12 meeting and that United Equine is examining other potential plant sites in Missouri.

"The study is now focusing on other options, but the plant will be in the Southwestern part of Missouri, and we are still on our timeline for finishing this feasibility study in the next six weeks or so." Wallis said.

Meanwhile, Mountain Grove attorney and plant opponent Cynthia MacPherson said other practical matters could negatively affect operations wherever in Missouri the plant might be located. In a March 12 letter, MacPherson urged Unified Equine's attorney Dan Erdel to advise prospective investors that USDA personnel might not be available to perform plant inspections. In her letter MacPherson cited information provided by Lawrence, Kan., USDA inspector Keith Gilmore, DVM, indicating that a fulltime USDA inspector's services would be required to inspect the plant's proposed processing volume of 200 to 400 animals per day.

"Even though the prohibition against USDA inspection of horse meat that may be processed for human consumption at U.S. plants was removed from (the appropriation bill), no new money was appropriated to pay for these inspections," MacPherson said in her letter.

MacPherson also pointed out members of congress must revisit the bill that lifts the barn on USDA horsemeat inspections before it expires on Sept. 30, 2012.

"One can only guess what could possibly happen in an election year prior to Sept. 30, 2012," MacPherson's letter 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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