N.M. Governor to USDA: Deny Horse Processing Plant Permit

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has asked the USDA to decline providing food safety inspections at horse processing plants that could be established in that state.

In 2007 a combination of legislation and court rulings shuttered the last remaining horse slaughter plants in the U.S. Domestic horse processing became possible again in November when Congress passed an appropriations bill restoring revenue for USDA horsemeat inspections. In December 2011 Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. LLC, submitted an application requesting placement of USDA personnel to carry out horsemeat inspections at his Roswell plant.

In an April 23 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak, Gov. Martinez asked that the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Services deny "any application that would seek to operate a horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico."

De Los Santos was unavailable for comment on the Governor's letter.

According to the letter, Martinez seeks the denial on grounds that New Mexicans oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption, that there is no domestic market for horsemeat, and that the horse slaughter process is inhumane. The letter also requests that "the opposition of a state be considered when deciding whether to approve an application to operate a horse slaughterhouse within state boundaries."

Aaron Lavallee, communications coordinator for the USDA Office of Communications, confirmed the agency had received Martinez' letter. Meanwhile, the New Mexico plant's inspection application remains pending, he said.

"One establishment, located in New Mexico, recently applied for a grant of inspection exclusively for equine, and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is reviewing the application," Lavallee 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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